A grande soy latte with a shot of social change? On January 19, Starbucks put their support behind a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State. The Seattle-based coffee shop giant joins a list of supporters along with Nike, Microsoft, and Vulcan. A statement issued on January 24 said, “Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
Corporate and celebrity endorsements do wonders for a cause, and unlike an individual, Starbucks’ cultural status allows it to influence millions to billions everyday.
Its social marketing strategy, smart phone app, and overall predictable products have made the once-small business an integral part of American consumerism. It has also branded itself as a prolific inspirer with the introduction of “The Way I See It” quotations.
But, some see this endorsement as another marketing tactic.
“…It seems, the time has come when brand managers have to check their SWOT analyses for the ‘gay marriage’ entry,” writes Abe Sauer for the Brand Channel.
To others however, a bandwagon move in the right direction is anything but disingenuous. The social media world buzzed mostly support for the company’s stance.
Meanwhile reader comments include pledges of rejection:
“I, my family , friends, co-workers and community will never ever give Star Bucks one cent or ever even go into one of your shops. No matter what state it is in. Shame on them for lowering their standards to pander to some politicaly correct notion,” wrote a reader in response to an article for the Huffington Post.
As for the remaining Starbucks community, social change may justify the expensive caffeine fix.
“I’m suddenly WAY more okay with spending $6 for a cup of coffee,” said Sam Sumpter for Study Breaks Blog.
On February 1, the Washington Senate passed the bill 28 to 21. It is now headed for expected approval in the House and then to Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, who has pledged to sign it. However, the bill faces a referendum in the fall that threatens to overturn a victory.
How do you feel about mega-corporations putting their weight behind political issues? Let us know in the comments!