SEATTLE: Starbucks, the coffee house chain, and Unilever, the consumer goods giant, have teamed up to promote their jointly-produced ice cream brand on Facebook, using an application that encourages consumers to download coupons via the social network.

It has been argued that the current financial crisis has forced Starbucks to reassess its priorities after years of growth, and the company has also come under increasing pressure from rivals such as McDonald's.

By way of a response, it has not only sought to move into the retail space, but also to utilise social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with consumers.

Unilever signed a licensing agreement to produce an ice cream range based on some of Starbuck's most popular coffee flavours, such as Caramel Macciato, Mocha Frappuccino and Java Chip Frappuccino, last year.

Simon Clift, the FMCG giant's chief marketing officer, has also previously championed the use of social media as a means of engaging a broad audience.

Running for two weeks, the two firms' current Facebook campaign will see 20,000 pints of Starbucks ice cream being given away each day.

Some 280,000 pints will be available overall, with members of the social network being required to download a voucher which they can then send on to a person of their choice.

According to a statement from the companies, "participants can treat others or – if the temptation is too great – indulge themselves by claiming one of just over 800 coupons available at the top of each hour."

Other brands that have recently been active on Facebook include Volkswagen and General Motors, which have used "widgets" – applications that feature on "profile pages" – produced by RockYou.

Gap has similarly employed some of the company's products, which vary from games and quizzes to video and tools that allow users to "decorate" their personal profile.

Microsoft and Experian are also among the major advertisers that are now using Facebook's own "engagement ads", which appear on user pages and contain interactive features.

Marc Andreessen, a board member of the social networking pioneer, has predicted that the company will make "over $500 million (€357m; £309m)" in revenue this year.

Furthermore, he added that "if they pushed the throttle forward on monetization they would be doing more than a billion this year."

"There's every reason to expect in my view that the thing can be doing billions in revenue five years from now," Andr

Data sourced from BrandWeek/Forbes/Reuters; additional content by WARC staff