Starbucks has been desperately trying to explain itself following Monday’s printed release of its full-page “Race Together” ad campaign in the national press, which aims to promote discussions on racism between America’s coffee-drinking citizens.
— Adweek (@Adweek) March 19, 2015
Reading, “Shall We Overcome?”, social media has since been ablaze with disbelief and not insignificant outrage, in no small part due to promotional images of Starbucks coffee cups featuring only white hands holding the “Race Together” signed vessels. As Reuters reports, many consider Starbucks to have overstepped the boundaries of a coffee chain. Together with #RaceTogether Twitter backlash, an offshoot hashtag, #NewStarbucksDrinks, has included the proposal of “iced white privilege mocha” among the imagined drinks the company should begin offering.
— #SocialMedia NC (@greensboro_nc) March 19, 2015
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, revealed not only an upcoming two-for-one stock split, but defended his campaign’s purpose and spoke of his reasons for embroiling Starbucks in racial issues.
As the Financial Times reports, it’s not the first time the coffee chain has become purposefully involved in social issues. Starbucks has in the past supported gay marriage, hired military veterans, and asked gun owners to refrain from bringing their weapons into stores. With the current “Race Together” campaign, Schultz wished to spark discursive understanding following national protests over police killings of unarmed black citizens in Cleveland, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri.
“[There is a] great need for empathy, compassion, understanding, and metaphorically trying to put your feet in someone else’s shoes […] We have to ask ourselves: is this the American promise that we were told to believe in?”
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) March 18, 2015
Friday’s issue of USA Today will include an eight-page insert furthering Starbucks’ “Race Together” efforts. As the Inquisitr previously reported, given that Starbucks Senior Vice President of Global Communications Corey duBrowa deleted the campaign’s Twitter account following online sarcasm — not to mention the plethora of other snide responses, including that of Fox News Dispatch’s Tom Starnes — Howard Schultz has received a form of support from former NBA star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a Time column, even though the player believes the Starbucks CEO to have gone about his goal in the wrong way entirely.
“I’m in awe that he’s willing to endure the snarky ridicule and lame coffee jokes from pundits as well as the inevitable death threats from clueless trolls.”
Certainly, having a barista write “Race Together” on a coffee cup in order to begin a heavy discussion on race is perhaps not the most efficient way for the Starbucks campaign to achieve its ends. However, an estimated 40 percent of Starbucks employees in its near 12,000 U.S. outlets are of minority ethnicity, and as Fortune Magazine reported in January this year, Schultz has been concerned with racial issues for some time now.
On a more positive — and less sensitive — note, the Wall Street Journal reports that Starbucks will begin two new trial delivery services later this year in order to emulate the efficiency (and, no doubt, profitability) of its drive-through outlets, which reported 30 percent greater profits than those stores without drive-through service.
First, Starbucks’ founding city, Seattle, will start delivery services in partnership with San Francisco-based start-up Postmates Inc. After that, through online ordering via the company’s rewards program, NYC’s Empire State Building office workers will be graced with the “Green Apron” delivery service.
Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman stated that there will be a flat fee for the delivery.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 18, 2015
[Image courtesy of Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]