You know that Starbuck's pay-it-forward idea hatched by Jonathan Stark? The one where you buy a coffee with a card and add money for the next person. Well, it may be a viral marketing campaign, not some feel-good social experiment.
The Jonathan's Starbucks Card hit the tech blogs earlier this week with the story of Jonathan Stark who decided to share his Starbucks card with the world. He asked people to share the picture of his card, use it to buy a coffee and put some money on it so the next person could do the same. The card had a Twitter account and a Facebook page where people could track the balance and leave comments. It was a blissful social experiment until Andrew Hetzel of The Coffee Business Strategies blog did some digging.
It turns out Mr Stark is the Vice President of Application Architecture at Mobiquity, a mobile computing firm that has worked in the past with Starbucks. Now a past relationship doesn't necessarily mean the two companies are in cahoots, but it does look suspicious, no? [Coffee Strategies Blog]
Update: Jonathan Stark issued a response on Facebook claiming this experiment is legitimate and not a marketing ploy. He writes, "The Jonathan's Card experiment was completely my idea, Starbucks had absolutely nothing to do with it." He stepped forward because he does not want the above rumour to "destroy the good feelings that have been built up by thousands of people who have participated in this wonderful experiment."