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Responsible Marketing

Serve your community, get free Starbucks coffee

By January 21, 2009July 23rd, 20209 Comments

Starbucks has launched a new campaign to make it easier to participate in President Obama’s call for national service.

With a goal of helping raise over one million hours of community service, the Starbucks Pledge5 campaign is in full-swing running in-stores and online. With the leading question “Are you in?” the ask is for a pledge of five hours of community service in 2009.

Commit five hours between today and January 25th and you’ll get a free cuppa joe.

Kudos to Starbucks for using their reach to do some good—now if they could only get my drink right.

What other ways can corporate America encourage community service?

Any and all ideas welcome.

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. . .
Thanks to Melissa Griswold for sharing this story with me—keep the great tips coming!

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Missy says:

    Hooray for a positive story of a company trying to do some good. The timing is perfect, leveraging the momentum of the Obama agenda for change. Love the retro feel of the spot and the song – very moving!

  • Mama Bear says:

    Isn’t this just an ad for Starbucks that you put on your Responsible Marketing Blog? I think what they are doing is fine. But is it really for serving the community or for serving Starbucks? And aren’t you just playing into their ad campaign??

  • Missy,

    Glad you like it. So do I!

    Mama Bear,

    Thanks for your unvarnished feedback.

    After re-reading my post, I can see why you’d say that. But this is a good program that costs relatively little, is buzzworthy and positively impacts the consumer’s opinion of Starbucks.

    Read a few of my posts and you’ll find I don’t offer praise lightly — I’ve criticized Starbucks too.

  • @ Patrick – I think it’s a well conceived program, a positive gesture to capture the mood of the nation right now, and of course, a nice bit of positive reinforcement for the Starbucks brand. They’ve had a focus on social marketing and corporate responsibility for some time now, from bean sourcing to supporting local parks, so this falls nicely in line.

    @ Mama Bear – Per the above, of course this campaign is designed to make Starbucks look good. That doesn’t mean that doing something positive for the community can’t also support the needs of a publicly-traded, for-profit corporation. It’s not a zero sum game.

  • Mary says:

    I like it. While Starbucks branding is evident, they don’t mention any specific products and ultimately, a good caused will be served while they foot the bill (with giving away free coffee). Am increasingly inspired by companies with good CSR campaigns especially in light of the recent economy, etc. Thanks for the post!

  • hale says:

    I have no problem with this type of campaign; in fact its a wonderful way to encourage volunteerism to a great number of people who frequent the store. But, why all the accolades? Where was this offer when previous President’s have called this country to service? It seems that Starbucks management is just using altruism (and a very popular new president) to increase declining sales. Is there any accountability? Anyone can sign a pledge card for some free coffee (especially in this economy).

  • My husband and I would be the first to say we’re not huge fan of Starbucks, considering their hackjob to the perfect cup of coffee, but we do agree that this fortune 500 company didn’t have to do this at all and the fact they did would make me run in for a crappy cup of joe. People still survive paying $3-5 per cup o joe and Starbucks would still carry on. But they decided to take an awesome campaign and run with it. Of course it makes them look better, but at least they’re doing something to help.

    @Hale, I may be completely wrong, and you right, but I think that Starbucks is trying to redefine themselves as a corporation that cares about the earth (ie their recyclable cups and other “eco” friendly waste) and supported Obama’s call to volunteer, which also falls inline with how they’re trying to re-brand themselves.

  • Martin says:

    Maybe I’m too cynical but I’m not buying it. They’re spending a lot of time and money to improve their image and increase sales – not to make their community better. If that was really their concern they’d just quietly donate or contribute and not make such a huge effort to try and tell everybody just how darn swell they are.

  • Mama Bear says:

    Let’s praise them for a great marketing campaign – rather than a great thing for the earth.

    A cup of joe (like soda) costs pennies to make. They loose little and gain alot of of this. They know the more ppl through the door, the more business they will get.

    The reality is you don’t actually have to do anything for the coffee. You just have to say, “I’m In!” See the website.

    My sympathies don’t like with Starbucks. However, they know how to make a campaign that will hook a new Obama generation. This is why Starbucks is the giant it is: it knows how to run a good marketing campaign.

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