Caribou Coffee aims at Starbucks, misses

It's popular, among the upstart coffee companies and the media which covers them, to portray anything that happens in the coffee world as an affront to Starbucks. And certainly, little is done in the industry without an ever-present consciousness of every move of the coffee giant. For the country's second-largest chain, Caribou Coffee (CBOU), sadly, its first TV advertisement is a volley lobbed directly at the Seattle-based leader; but misses entirely.

AdAge says of the television commercial launched Thursday, it's "an approach that pokes fun at its biggest rival, Starbucks (SBUX)." But for customers, that's hard to see. The ad shows two marionettes on a bench at the mall, drinking tiny coffee cups with circles on them (so subtly like Starbucks cups, you'd only know if you paused the commercial to stare), chatting about how "super-important" they're pretending to look. They're snobby and insufferable until an enormous cup of Caribou Coffee, topped with whipped cream and chocolate bits, sits down next to them