Tag Archives: Starbucks

Starbucks Shows it Takes Discrimination Seriously

Starbucks_3By now, you have no doubt seen the news that two African-American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks  Thursday. The men were waiting for a friend when they were asked to leave because they hadn’t yet purchased anything, a request that appears to run counter to the company’s policy. The incident sparked outrage and protest amid accusations that race was at the heart of the incident – had the two men been white, for example, it is almost certain the police would not have been called.

Give Starbucks’ senior management and crisis communications teams credit for neutralizing a delicate situation. The company recognized immediately that it had a highly charged and potentially combustible issue on its hands, and its reaction has been impressive. Among its responses:

  • Starbucks immediately acknowledged the issue on social media and promised to look into the issue.
  • Once Starbucks quickly determined it was in the wrong, CEO Kevin Johnson personally apologized to the men. Johnson also apologized publicly in written and video statements that were posted to the company’s social media platforms.
  • Johnson traveled to Philadelphia and spent several days listening face-to-face to members of the community.
  • Starbucks reassigned the store employee who called the police.
  • The company announced that it will close all 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 29 to conduct racial-bias education training for nearly 175,000 employees. Additionally, Starbucks shared that the curriculum for that training will be created in collaboration with some of the leading experts on addressing racial bias.

Bottom Line: Starbucks followed the PR crisis playbook closely, and it has been incredibly effective at neutralizing this crisis. It didn’t just react, it leaned toward overreacting. Protesters in Philadelphia (and nationally) have been trying to leverage this situation into something bigger, but Starbucks has been a step ahead of them from the beginning. Additionally, Starbucks has signaled to its socially conscious customer base that it shares their inherent values and is more than willing to be a leader in the fight for principles such as racial equality and respect for all individuals.

Jeremy Story is a Vice President at GroundFloor Media, where he co-leads the firm’s Crisis, Reputation and Issues Management practice. He has more than 20 years of experience helping companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 100 prepare for, manage and recover from crisis issues.

 

Using technology to keep up… with technology

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The digital world is changing faster than a cheetah on Red Bull and it can feel impossible to keep up. However, careful planning and an understanding of what is driving your audience, whether it’s sources they trust, amazing photos and experiences or a particular need, can still help marketers connect people to products and brands. Even better, in the not too distant future, technology will help solve the challenges it creates. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help you reach the right people with the right product at the right time.

Case Studies

USA Today: People Freaking Out Over Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino
Starbucks hopped on the Unicorn food train with a colorful Unicorn frappuccino this week. It had the internet and the brave taste testers in our office buzzing, but the “buzz” may have been from the sugar coated sugar. Either way, they’ve seen plenty of social media conversation from the extremely limited run product. Lessons learned? There is no amount of sugar Americans won’t try. Don’t forget to think about the picture people will take when you’re coming up with ideas. If nothing else the neon Unicorn drink makes great Instagram fodder.

Read more after the jump…

The Irony of It All: Does USA Today Take the Cake?

As I was reading my complimentary hotel copy of USA Today on my return flight from Austin to Denver, I was struck by several stories that made we wonder about story choices by the nation’s largest circulation newspaper.

First, on the front page at the top of the paper, was an article about how Miami County, Ohio has seen one of the highest increases in poverty in the U.S. in the past four years, with 16 percent of it residents living below the poverty line. Second, right below that story was an article on the $450 Starbucks gift card. In case you haven’t heard about it, the card is made of steel and is loaded with $400. The price difference is because it costs $50 to make each one of the 5,000 gift cards that will surely sell out. The card will buy you 57 of the $7.00 limited brew coffees that Starbucks recently rolled out.

While the front page of the paper made me stop and think – especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as many people are rushing around buying gifts, while others, like those mentioned in the Miami County, Ohio story, are just trying to survive – nothing prepared me for story and photo on the next page.

Read more after the jump…