The Associated Press has reported that Starbucks is going to use coffee cups as a form of political activism this week.
CEO Howard Schultz is asking Baristas in Starbucks Washington, D.C. locations to write the words “Come Together” on cups through December 28th. Schultz is hoping that this will send a message to lawmakers that the American public is paying attention to the looming “fiscal cliff.” This is the first time that Starbucks employees are being asked to write anything but the customer’s name on a coffee cup.
In his blog post this morning, Schultz said:
“My hope is that this simple message will serve as a holiday reminder from Starbucks of the spirit that has always bridged differences and that we all have the power to come together and make a difference during every season of the year.”
In a telephone interview with Reuters this morning, Schultz said,“We’re paying attention, we’re greatly disappointed in what’s going on and we deserve better.”
He continued with:
“Rather than be bystanders, we have an opportunity—and I believe a responsibility—to use our company’s scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message to our elected officials to come together and reach common ground on this important issue. This week through December 28, partners in our Washington D.C. area stores are writing “Come Together” on customers’ cups,” Schultz said in his blog post this morning.
Companies tend to stay away from political stances. It’s just bound to alienate someone, no matter what stance they take. Schultz feels that the plea of “Come Together” is a positive message of solidarity that has no tone of partisanship. Known as a “hands-on” CEO, Schultz hopes to make politicians aware of the damage that the sharp division among lawmakers has had on “consumer psyche and behavior.”
The “fiscal cliff” referred to is the tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect January 1st if the White House and Congress don’t reach an agreement. Schultz has joined other high-powered business leaders and financial experts in the endorsement of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan group that is lobbying to force lawmakers to work together on this urgent issue.
Schultz apparently feels a genuine concern for the U.S. lawmakers’ tendency to wait until the last minute to handle financial decisions that affect everyone. In 2011, Schultz asked the public and the CEOs of other companies to put a halt to campaign contributions until lawmakers found a solution to the debt ceiling crisis that led to a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating.
Known to be a socially conscious company, which can be interpreted by “some people” (I’m looking at you, Tony Perkins) as liberal, this gesture gives the company the unintended bonus of showing that they just love coffee and our country, and just want everyone, liberal or conservative, to do the same. The company is not taking sides on the issue of tax increases and spending cuts.
Starbucks is using every form of media to get their message across, including print ads in The Washington Post and The New Yorker, coverage on AOL’s news websites, and the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter.
In spite of the warm and nonpartisan message, Schultz made it clear in a Reuters interview that he’s serious.
“If (talks) do not progress, we will make this much bigger,” he said. He added, “We’re paying attention, we’re greatly disappointed in what’s going on and we deserve better.”
Shultz feels that facing this issue two years in a row is unacceptable.
“We are facing such dysfunction, irresponsibility and lack of leadership. There is something so wrong that we can be here again and not have the ability to put party aside for the betterment of the country. We have the same language and rhetoric. Unfortunately we aren’t learning much.”
I think I’ll have my teen who’s out and about shopping stop into our local Starbucks to buy a coffee. We’ll wash the cup when she gets home. Wouldn’t this be a very cool souvenir of the 2012 political drama in our country?
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