April 21, 2012

IconDon’t you just love it when a hate campaign backfires?

You may remember that a couple of months ago, Starbucks excitedly revealed its new PR strategy. Now, when you order a coffee, they ask for your name, so that hen it’s ready they can call you over to collect it.

This PR plan probably works really well in Seattle, but not in the UK. Not even the promise of a free latte to promote this new friendly venture could wipe the incredulous sneers off the faces of the caffeine-deprived British public. Give Starbucks our name? We’d rather give it two fingers.

It’s hard to think of Starbucks as a friendly local coffeeshop when we know full well it’s a megabucks international corporation, a behemoth brand crushing independent cafes as it dominates every high street.

And so I was quite surprised to find myself defending it, even vowing to support it, in response to a ridiculous boycott called Dump Starbucks.

Free gay rights with every latte

Thanks to the Dump Starbucks website, I found out that Starbucks is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage in the USA, and so a homophobic pressure group is encouraging a boycott because “every time you sip from a Starbucks coffee, you’re supporting gay marriage”. What a lovely surprise! I had no idea.

Presumably they’re quieter in the UK about their support for gay rights because, well, we actually have some gay rights in the UK, so it’s not such a big deal.

It turns out that Starbucks are actually a pretty nice company, once you get past the whole money-hungry-ruthless-corporation thing. They have LGBT support groups for their employees and in the States they offer healthcare for partners of gay employees.

But now that Starbucks has explictly stated their support for gay marriage in the USA, homophobic pressure group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) are upset and are calling for a boycott.

NOM believe that ‘at least half its US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers’ are against gay marriage, and so it think its coffee boycott will bully Starbucks into reversing its ideology.

Let battle commence

‘Half of Starbucks’ US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers.’ Sounds like a lot of people doesn’t it? And yet, at time of writing, just 32,800 people have signed Dump Starbucks’ pledge.

Meanwhile, because Dump Starbucks is very kindly letting us all know how gay-friendly Starbucks is, a counter-petition has got underway.

This petition, created by Sum of Us, is simply to send Starbucks a thank you card on behalf of everyone who appreciates their support for equality. At time of writing, 647,593 people have digitally signed the card.

32,800 against Starbucks, 647,593 supporting Starbucks. That’s a difference of over six hundred thousand people. Wow. Embarassing.

So do your bit for gay rights – sign the petition, then go to Starbucks for a coffee. Or go to your local gay-friendly independent cafe for a herbal tea. Same idea, less crushing behemoth domination.

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