Starbucks chooses a cheap social-media campaign to push Via instant coffee

In February, Starbucks (SBUX) invited AOL to taste a secret new product. In my capacity as a coffee and Starbucks expert, I got a few samples of the product, Via, and uploaded photographs to Flickr before giving my verdict.

I'd almost forgotten that Via's national launch was coming up -- next Tuesday -- until I received an email from Starbucks's Via "moderator," thanking me for posting such a great photo, and offering me both free instant-coffee packets and instant fame in the product's launch. All it would take, online community manager Anali Orr told me, was my permission (pdf link) to give Starbucks "a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive fully-paid up and royalty free license" "without restrictions of any kind and without any payment or other consideration of any kind" -- other than, of course, three months' worth of free coffee packets.