March 19, 2015

"This is not about starting a conversation. This is about coffee wars.... The sole objective here is to try to increase the brand’s cultural relevance."

Said a USC educator named Jeetendr Sehdev, in my favorite quote in the NYT article titled "Starbucks Initiative on Race Relations Draws Attacks Online."

ADDED: Jeetendr Sehdev — according to his Twitter profile:


Celebrity branding authority. USC professor. Brit in LA. Scientifically examining the world of celebrity. #IntelligentPop
Following!

44 comments:

Danno said...

Another reason to go to the locally-owned coffee shops rather than Starbucks.

Fen said...

Well then start with the corporate office. All I see are white males...

Maybe Starbucks is using this issue like the old Catholic Indulgence - a little hashtag activism to wipe away the stain of their own racist discrimination?

http://www.remax-jacaranda.co.za/images/Corporate_Group.jpg

Typical liberals - "we just LOVE minorities, but not in our back yard"

Amexpat said...

It's OK to talk about prejudice. It's OK to talk about tribalism.
It's OK to talk about cultural or ethnic differences.

But it's racist to start a conversation based on the assumption that there are different races based on skin color.

Todd said...

"The sole objective here is to try to increase the brand’s cultural relevance."

Like over-priced coffee has any cultural relevance. The smug is strong at those corporate offices!

Nonapod said...

Relevance of the brand? Are you suggesting that Starbucks is doing all this just to make more money?! Not cool, man, not cool! They should only do stuff out the goodness of their hearts.

Laslo Spatula said...

Why would I want to talk about NASCAR with someone who probably doesn't even follow the sport?

I am Laslo.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Celebrity branding authority?

I'm reminded of the old saw that worse than doing something poorly is doing something well that ought not be done at all.

But if he's gay then I guess it's all right.

LarsPorsena said...

Know of any Starbucks in predominantly black areas?

Brando said...

No one actually wants a dialogue on race, least of all the people who keep saying "we need to have a dialogue on race." Does anyone think that a person who believes cries of racism are overblown really wants to hear from some SJW who thinks racism is everywhere? Or that the SJW who thinks racism is rooted in every part of our society really wants to listen to what a person who thinks such claims are exaggerated has to say on the issue?

If just once I could hear someone say "you know, I disagree with your thoughts on racism but you make some valid points and I may have to consider that in my own worldview" then maybe this "conversation" would have something to it. But right now, everyone saying they want a "dialogue" really means they just want to lecture others and get them to let go of their wrongheaded beliefs.

So maybe instead everyone can just shut up about it for a while and move on to something else. This years-long screaming match has accomplished nothing.

Brando said...

As for Starbucks, I get their branding strategy, but this was a stupid move--leftists have been particularly damning in their criticism of this initiative (not to mention, their customer base has a lot of conservatives and moderates to consider). They would have done far more by donating to some (ideally inoffensive) cause related to this issue.

Brando said...

A better strategy would be a random "pay it forward" gimmick, offering a free coffee drink to every Nth customer, with no obligation but a suggestion that the customer do some small kindness to someone else in the community (e.g., buy someone else a drink, offer them your seat). It's harmless, makes the company look like it's trying to spread kindness, and also has the "coupon effect" of encouraging more sales as people might gamble that they'd get a free item.

Instead, they suggest busy barristas and customers talk about racism when clearly someone wants their coffee and someone else wants to give it to them and move to the next customer? Only a clueless idiot CEO would come up with this.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

We used to drink a lot of Starbucks at home. Save the empty bags for a free small coffee when we went to town. Starbucks stopped that program.

Now there is a sticker on the bags. After a few minutes prying the sticker open, a few more minutes looking for a magnifying glass to read the numbers, more time to log on to their website and enter the numbers, I think they give some credits on your "Starbucks card" if you have one.

Too much trouble.

Now we drink yerba mate in the mornings. Order it through the Amazon portal.

Peter said...

Starbucks is getting a lot of publicity out of this, and if it's true that even bad publicity is good than it's a win for them.

But it's still hard to see a win for Starbucks here as, at a minimum, they are deliberately violating customers' boundaries to push them into doing something they've not volunteered to do. Are they unable to see the difference between a customer choosing to talk about something, and an employee "nudging" an unwilling customer to do so?

Mostly it reminds me of my experience at a checkout where the cashier, after scanning my purchases, held my credit card hostage while delivering a pitch to contribute toward a charity. Perhaps it was a wonderful charity but my response was not particularly charitable ("I prefer to decide for myself when and how to contribute to charity, and refuse to respond to hard-sell pitches"). The experience certainly didn't make me want to return to that store anytime soon.

Which is to say: how big a fool do you have to be to think getting in your customers' faces is good business?

carrie said...

I wish that they would have just gone with #cooperatewiththepolice. That is the most important lesson from the recent deaths of young blacks at the hands of the police and it would be great to promote that message.

Chris N said...

Some people won't be happy until there's one coffee plantation on the commune, one product and one price.

Actually, some people will never be happy even though they run the coffee game in this 'community' and their sons ALWAYS get all the vouchers to paint murals at Friendship Plaza!

Inside baseball: Watson told me The Leader took him aside and told him I was lucky to be alive after the community council dissolved.

The People want coffee!

D.D. Driver said...

"Police shootings involving the deaths of African-Americans and the ensuing racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island and Oakland, Calif., had turned race relations into a national conversation, and he said he wanted the gathering to provide an outlet for discussion."

It's funny how Starbuck omits Dontre Hamilton, who was shot by a Milwaukee police officer after Starbucks employees called the cops three times. They refused to take no for an answer when the first cops that responded to the call told the Starbucks employees that Hamilton wasn't harming anyone.

Michael K said...

Part of Starbucks brand is the leftist image of cuteness and high status. This goes with that but I suspect he went too far and pissed off more customers than were interested.

Hagar said...

And for his next act, how about:
"Let us discuss Obama's Middle East policy?"

MadisonMan said...

Following!

(chuckle)

I wonder how many more he picked up from that article.

Charlie Currie said...

"Know of any Starbucks in predominantly black areas?" Ah, YES

And, several are owned by Magic Johnson.

MadisonMan said...

Some of our best franchisees are black!

rehajm said...

Must disagree a bit. Leftie CEO Howard Schultz is as arrogant and self righteous as they come, and while lefties like to make and keep their money far more than the next guy I'm sure he believes in his heart he's a front line social warrior first, while never admitting he's a greedy capitalist second.

Dan Hossley said...

Starbuck's should have anticipated the backlash from the left. After all, the "let's have a dialog about race" is already owned by the likes of Al Sharpton and he doesn't need the competition.

n.n said...

The politicians, press, and activists do it all the time. Why shouldn't a coffeehouse be able to share the profit?

Perhaps Starbucks should incorporate as a non-profit and reclassify its coffee business as a fund raising arm. They can claim that they are helping second and third-world farmers with a fair trade agreement for distribution of their beans, which would also qualify as a discussion of race, gender, or whatever is necessary to gain establishment approval.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Charlie Currie said...
"Know of any Starbucks in predominantly black areas?" Ah, YES

And, several are owned by Magic Johnson.

3/19/15, 10:31 AM
----------------------------


-----------------------------------
In October 2010, Johnson sold his interest in 105 Starbucks franchises back to the company for an estimated $27 million.

---------------------------

That was mighty white of Magic.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

After you idiots start your Starbucks we will listen to your opinion with more credence that there it a fart.

You don't tell Manning how to pass a football, you don't tell Schultz how to sling coffee.

Morons.

Keep talking about how dumb Starbucks is. Say Starbucks thirty or forty times a day for the next six weeks.

Starbucks.

Starbucks.
Starbucks.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

twere it a fart.

n.n said...

The first rule of the civil rights racket is that you are granted civil rights. Starbucks should have filed for permission to join their exclusive family. The membership process is highly selective and over one million are excluded annually.

Fernandinande said...

"The sole objective here is to try to increase the brand’s cultural relevance."

So they stole the idea from the Democrats?

Sam L. said...

It may well drive off customers; it would me, if I drank coffee and went there.

Larry J said...

Brando said...
No one actually wants a dialogue on race, least of all the people who keep saying "we need to have a dialogue on race." Does anyone think that a person who believes cries of racism are overblown really wants to hear from some SJW who thinks racism is everywhere? Or that the SJW who thinks racism is rooted in every part of our society really wants to listen to what a person who thinks such claims are exaggerated has to say on the issue?

If just once I could hear someone say "you know, I disagree with your thoughts on racism but you make some valid points and I may have to consider that in my own worldview" then maybe this "conversation" would have something to it. But right now, everyone saying they want a "dialogue" really means they just want to lecture others and get them to let go of their wrongheaded beliefs.


It's the same thing with those mandatory sensitivity classes that some colleges are implementing. They want to create their own form of reeducation camps where people are forced to confess their sins against the Narrative and the state. Based on the judgment of the reeducators, the people get a (proverbial or literal) bullet to the brain or are simply forced into servitude. It's straight out of the Little Red Book.

Sigivald said...

In what universe do you increase "cultural relevance" with pathetic posturing about a "conversation on race"?

Sweet Jesus.

Todd said...

Sigivald said...
In what universe do you increase "cultural relevance" with pathetic posturing about a "conversation on race"?

Sweet Jesus.

3/19/15, 11:44 AM


In a "liberal universe". For that and many other reasons, I refer to them as the "community base reality".

David said...

"Following!"

Did he blow in your ear? Or was the photo enough?

Marty Keller said...

This idiocy reminds me of a line in National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" on Radio Dinner: "a walk through the ocean of most people's souls would barely get your feet wet."

William said...

Maybe the campaign is not aimed at the customers but at the baristas. They're not like those burger flippers at McDonald's. They don't just prepare and serve coffee. They effect social change and make America a better place........Is this a bid to put Starbucks at the top of the status order for service employees and thereby attract a better staff?

Anthony said...

My favorite SBux barista and I the other day having our Official Starbucks Race Discussion:

Her: "I forgot what I was supposed to write on the cup."

Me: "Yeah, figures, you're probably Welsh or something. . . ."

Anthony said...

"We need to have an open and honest discussion about xxxxx" = "Shut up unless you agree with me"

Brando said...

Doesn't this sort of invite the very behavior among baristas that would inevitably lead to a hostile workplace (based on race) claim in the EEOC? "Encouraging" your employees to get into these discussions with customers (as well as each other) is just an employment law minefield.

Did Schultz consult with any humans before announcing this brilliant plan?

Birches said...

Has anyone else seen this?

Buahahaha!

Reminds me of this Seinfeld episode.

Michael McClain said...

Why isn't there a Starbucks in Ferguson, MO? Does Starbucks hate black people?

jr565 said...

If anything it's probsbly an attempt to get more black people to shop at Starbucks. Look at us, we're down with blacks! We want to talk about racism! White privilege? Please buy our coffee!
What would help more would be if they priced their coffee to people other than yuppies.

richard mcenroe said...

"Hi, I'd like a vente chai latte with two pumps and whipped cream, and an answer to the darkys question."

Wonder how long the silence on the speaker would last...

JAORE said...


Celebrity branding authority?

I swear that was NOT covered at Career Day.