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Starbucks Wants America to Come Together
By: Sarah Jane Dunaway
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Earlier this week at Starbucks I ordered my usual nonfat latte and found the words “Come Together” handwritten in permanent marker on the top of the cup. This past week Starbucks began writing, “Come Together” on all customers’ cups in an effort to create unity and encourage our nation’s elected officials to come together.

Starbucks’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Howard Schultz wrote, “In the spirit of the Holiday season and the Starbucks tradition of bringing people together, we have a unique opportunity to unite and take action on an incredibly important topic. As many of you know, our elected officials in Washington D.C. have been unable to come together and compromise to solve the tremendously important, time-sensitive issue to fix the national debt. You can learn more about this impending crisis at www.fixthedebt.org.”

When it comes to politics and brand image, I’m a supporter of the bi-partisan approach. While I do often support the idea that all press is good press, I believe it is better for brands to stay out of politics and remain focused on their consumer base, not their political opinions.

Over the summer, Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy publicly announced his opposition to gay marriage and equality, resulting in the boycotting of Chick-fil-A by many consumers and massive lines of those showing support. Many were outraged by his statement and others supported his personal opinions, claiming that it was just his own view and did not represent the opinions of the brand’s individual franchise owners who operate the local Chick-fil-A restaurant chains.

Ben & Jerry’s has traditionally been a left-leaning company with the “Occupy Movement” page on its website and flavors inspired by various liberal supporters and commentators such as “AmericCone Dream,” featuring Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report. Its owners are vocal about their political standing and create products that represent their personal opinions — something that has actually worked well for the company.

Starbucks has done something unique in that it publicly addressed a current political message and remained bi-partisan in the process — not an easy task. In addition, Starbucks took an approach that inspires both elected officials and the rest of America to join together, to put aside political disagreements and move forward for the greater good of our country.

It’s a bold statement, but Starbucks found an angle that might have worked.

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About the Author

Sarah Jane Dunaway is a brand strategist and design consultant, and the writer and creator behind the blog Clean & Proper. A former member of the paper and printing industry, Sarah Jane specializes in helping businesses of all sizes streamline marketing communications by creating compelling brand identity systems and corporate identity packages. Find her online here

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