Starbucks “Everything Matters”

starbuckslogo.jpgAirline Magazines are a specific and unique genre of publication, typically purchasing articles from free lancers and periodically, if not publicly, allowing articles to be purchased. In this month’s Hemispheres by United Airlines, the lead “voices” piece is an article by Starbucks CEO Jim Donald discussing the company’s CSR practices in in the many countries in which it the company operates. United Airlines boasts that they are the only carrier to serve Starbucks Coffee, which is a second part of this marketing relationship. Serve the coffee with highly visible branding and insert interesting articles into the in-flight magazine on behalf of the client. (I’m making the assumption that this articles appearance in the magazine is associated with a co-marketing campaign).
This particular article talks about the symbiotic relationship Starbucks has with its farmers, a program called “CAFE” – Coffee and Farmer Equity – which requires farmers to meet certain criteria in order to be recognized. The article also talks about the upcoming release of “Estima” a Fair-Trade Certified brand of coffee that Starbucks will soon launch.

uallogo.jpgIt’s a light and fluffy article, the kind you might expect in flight. Is it effective? Well with most passengers on all United flights at least thumbing past it, there is certain to be a fairly huge amount of exposure for Starbucks. The simplicity of it, along with it’s placement as a real article, and not as an obvious advertisement, make it both quick to read and highly believable.
Starbucks seems to be doing a number of commendable things with regards to sustainability, and they obviously recognize the public relations benefit in making their commitment visible to the average public who might other wise gloss over articles on CSR. Furthermore, regardless of Starbucks performance, putting this sort of article out in front of people makes CSR and fair trade stand out. It’s an invitation to other companies (including Starbucks’ competitors) to get on the bandwagon as well. I think the piece ought to have a positive impact on the movement towards sustainability.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

One response

  1. Cafe Estima Blend has been launched — Just got some at my neighborhood Starbucks (I talk about it here. I totally agree that we need more exposure for fair trade products, but I have to say I often feel like Starbucks does a lot more greenwashing of its corporate image than actually taking green action. Starbucks proudly proclaims its fair-trade friendliness, but doesn’t seem to put enough effort into educating their employees to follow the company’s fair trade policies, let alone promote those policies. I dunno — It’s a quandary, Starbucks. They’re so big that little changes they make can mean big changes in the world, but they’re reluctant to do anything above the bare minimum to get green creds in the MSM —

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