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Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

Reasons Why Starbucks’ Political Campaigns Frequently Fall Flat

starbucks coffeeMother Jones took the time to dig into six Starbucks campaigns that addressed political issues and ultimately resulted in absolutely nothing. Mind you, these campaigns made some noise. People knew about them. They were discussed in the media. But they did nothing in the way of alleviating the problems they were meant to address. The most recent fail was the “Pay It Forward” campaign that asked customers to sign a petition to end the debt ceiling debate and somehow tied free cups of coffee into the idea of unity.

A spokesperson for the company, Zack Hutson, said the company just wanted to “encourage kindness and civility.”

That unity theme popped up in last year’s “Come Together” campaign in which baristas wrote the words “come together” on customers’ cups and in some way that I’m not sure I understand, there was a “Fix the Debt” message.

Then there was the 2008 campaign where they gave away free coffee to people who voted, until they found out that that campaign violated election laws. LOL.

So clearly the first problem is that these campaigns don’t make much sense. The second is that someone in legal needs to be fired. But the third problem might go to the root of the repeated fails.

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Starbucks ‘DuffinGate’ Controversy Continues Unabated


However you may feel about Starbucks coffee, the brand and its CEO Howard Schultz are brilliant at identifying the latest cultural trend and turning it into a marketing opportunity. This week the chain sponsored a petition urging our government to “Open It Back Up” and included some sort of deal in which customers get a free coffee if they buy one for someone else (which doesn’t make too much sense but it’s brilliant all the same).

In the UK, however, one of the brand’s latest campaigns tastes a little bitter—much like its coffee.

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How to Help Your Brand Connect to LGBT Audiences

Now that the majority of Americans (if not the majority of American states) have accepted same-sex marriage and effectively welcomed the LGBT community into mainstream culture, brand strategists are brainstorming over how to make the most of a large and passionate demographic. Why? Well, gay men and women do “have the largest amount of disposable income of any niche market,” so…money.

That’s according to Community Marketing Inc., a gay-centric research organization that just released its 7th annual LGBT community survey of more than 30,000 consumers in 100 different countries. Their findings should help marketing/PR pros better understand the community.

The fact that LGBT individuals “keep up with online media” isn’t much of a revelation, but here are some more interesting conclusions:

  • “LGBT” is the preferred term for gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, though gay men are equally receptive to the phrase “gay and lesbian”. Words like “queer”, “rainbow” and “gay-welcoming” are less effective (probably because they’re condescending).
  • Consumers prefer that corporate communications refer to their legal relationships with the terms “spouse” or “husband/wife”, though “partner” also works. Dated terms like “significant other” and “gay couple” don’t test so well.

Starbucks Asks Customers to Leave Their Guns at Home

If your morning plans included sipping a mocha frappe at your local Starbucks while lovingly polishing your Colt 45, the coffee shop chain kindly requests that you reconsider, and leave the gun at home.

Many U.S. restaurants and shops don’t allow firearms on their properties as part of their company policies, but because Starbucks’ policy has been to default to local gun laws, including “open carry” regulations that allow people to bring firearms into stores in many U.S. states, the chain has been dragged into the heated debate over gun rights.

This past August, in order to thank the coffee shop chain for what they saw as a firearm-friendly policy, gun-rights advocates held a national “Starbucks Appreciation Day” at multiple Starbucks locations nationwide. One of these locations included Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead in an elementary school last December. Though Starbucks had the foresight to close that shop before the event was scheduled to begin, the Appreciation Day events pulled the company deeper into the contentious political debate.

In an effort to distance itself from the controversy, and to make it clear that Starbucks does not sponsor or advocate the carrying of loaded firearms in public, chief executive Howard Schultz said in an open letter late Tuesday that Starbucks Appreciation Day events “disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry.’ To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.” He went on to say that:

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PR Win: Bloomberg’s Sign-Language Specialist Becomes an Advocate for the Deaf

Hey, remember Lydia Callis? Sure you do—she became an instant YouTube celebrity last October for her repeat appearances at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s side during Hurricane Sandy. Her animated sign-language style and the obvious passion she poured into her job endeared her to millions; she even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit.

So what’s she doing now? She’s parlayed her fame into a new role as an advocate for the deaf in New York. Right now she’s leading sign-language tours at New York Public Library, but her ambitious goal is to make more Americans aware of the challenges their hearing-impaired neighbors face every day. It’s a real problem—deaf customers recently filed a lawsuit against Starbucks for discrimination at the coffee shop’s Manhattan branches.

Speaking to the New York Times about the media frenzy, she said:

Seriously, when is this going to die down? Wow, people just really don’t know much about the deaf community.

Lydia knows of what she speaks: while she is not deaf, her mother and three siblings are, so ASL was her first language. Seems like she’d make a perfect advocate, no?

Here’s the clip in case you forgot:

Newtown Starbucks Closed to Prevent Gun Control ‘Debate’ Event

The best way to manage the damage from a PR crisis is to avoid it altogether, right?  In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it story, Starbucks scored a pre-emptive crisis comms win last Friday by closing the branch located in Newtown, Connecticut—the same town where a gunman killed 26 people, most of them schoolchildren, last December.

Why? Because several gun rights advocacy groups declared August 9th “Starbucks Appreciation Day” and planned to celebrate the fact that the company does not prohibit weapons inside its stores issue by, yes, bringing their guns to the coffee shop for a publicity stunt.

That’s not all:

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Dunkin’ Donuts Becomes First Fast Food Chain to Offer Gluten-Free Pastries

Pastry enthusiasts on gluten-free diets need no longer stare longingly across the counter at forbidden blueberry muffins while ordering their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee — soon they’ll be able to indulge in some sweet treats alongside their wheat-tolerant friends.

D&D chains will sell gluten-free cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and blueberry muffins across the U.S. this year, Stan Frankenthaler, the company’s executive chef, said in an e-mail. “We recognize the importance of providing our guests with many options, including alternative choices for people with food and dietary restrictions,” he said.

Though gluten-free certainly doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie — your waistline will still probably thank you for skipping the doughnut, gluten-free or otherwise –  this move demosntrates that the company is invested in providing its customers with options that fit their lifestyles. And because Starbucks and McDonald’s are both proving a bit slower to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, Dunkin is poised to become a pioneer.

Not to mention the fact that it’s probably a good strategy for the brand to appear somewhat health-conscious after its recent introduction of a bacon, egg and doughnut breakfast sandwich.

Star‘s James Heidenry: ‘If a publicist wants to serve their clients, they should have a good relationship with us’

In Mediabistro’s latest So What Do You Do? interview, Star editor-in-chief James Heidenry tackles his newsstand nemeses head-on, calling People and Us Weekly “the mouthpiece of celebrity publicists” – and he didn’t mean that in a positive way. 

“They covet these relationships with the publicists, and as a result they don’t say negative things about the celebrities, something like a famous person getting caught cheating, whereas we don’t have any such relationships,” he explained.

Although the pub isn’t necessarily beholden to PR pros, said Heidenry, getting on his team’s good side can sometimes work in your favor. “If a publicist wants to serve their clients, they should have a good relationship with us, because, frankly, we do have stories on certain people that we hold, because we like the relationship with the publicist and we’ve done Q&A with the celebrity in the past or photo shoots with them,” he said. 

Read the full interview in So What Do You Do, James Heidenry, Editor-in-Chief of Star?

Move Over, Superman: Starbucks CEO Has His Own Comic Book

Starbucks CEO Howard SchultzIt’s a Bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Super CEO!

We’re pretty sure The Justice League didn’t advertise an open position, but no matter. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, can stand on his own (and so, apparently, can his comic book).

From the same state that brought you the very first Starbucks comes the inaugural edition of  “Howard Schultz: The Man Behind Starbucks”, written by C.W. Cooke, drawn by Angel Bernuy with cover art by Conan Momchilov and released by Washington-based Bluewater Productions.

Don’t expect any high-flying hi-jinx or otherworldly bad guys in this comic. The ink-and-paper version of Schultz does much of what the flesh-and-blood version does–i.e. serving as the visionary ruler of a coffee empire.

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Dr. McDreamy, Tully’s Coffee Take on Starbucks

Tully's Coffee Patrick DempseyCapitalism, at its most basic, is a system that enables the public to vote with its money. By offering or withholding funds, the public decides which companies succeed and which companies fail.

So as cynical and jaded as the public can be about the ubiquitous presence of Starbucks and its cultural influence over how we—we meaning the entire human race—perceive and consume coffee, it is important to remember that the public elevated the brand to global prominence.

As Starbucks continues its caffeinated march across multiple nations and generations, we see a growing opportunity for brands that cater to people who–gasp!–love coffee but don’t love Starbucks. Some folks, for example, think Starbucks coffee tastes bitter or burnt (and this isn’t just the Dunkin’ Donuts crowd).

Enter actor Patrick Dempsey–yes, that would be Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy. The man who isn’t a doctor but plays one on TV just purchased Tully’s Coffee, a chain based in Starbuck’s own hometown of Seattle, Washington which filed for bankruptcy in October. At auction, Mr. Dempsey and his group Global Baristas outbid six other competitors (including Starbucks and Baristas Coffee Co.), paying $9.15 million for the company. Read more

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