When good intentions go wrong

Managing the communication department of a company can be a delicate issue. More so if the company is a transnational one. When common people think of big companies, the image of a greedy board of directors with nothing but profits in their minds is a common one. Thus, big corporations are often understood as enemies of the common individual. When managing the communications department of a company, employees and directors have to tread lightly. One misstep, one bad headline and the reputation of the whole company may tumble down the sink.

Starbucks is a company that grew with a steady pace, also growing near customers because they were satisfied with their products and services. They took the idea of a cafeteria and turned it into a little paradise. Customers were, maybe for the first time, able to ask for their coffee exactly the way they wanted it. The employees treated them nicely, and the place itself was comfortable. They could plug their laptops, get to work and they wouldn’t be bothered if they wanted to spend the whole afternoon there. Also, there were lots of branches, and the experience was replicated in all of them. Did people like starbucks? You bet they did.

Starbucks “Race together” problem

It is true that starbucks has the need to demonstrate their social responsibility in relation with certain issues, but a flawed carrying out of a great idea may end up as what happened with this campaign. The main problem in this case is the bad management of the campaign, conCaptura de pantalla 2016-04-28 a las 6.50.14 p.m..pngveying the wrong message which deviated from the original idea: create conscience about the tragedies occurred during that year with black people and racial crimes. It’s possible that drinking coffee with your fiends wasn’t the best way to discuss such a delicate topic as is the racism in the United States. Add to this the wrong instruction to the baristas for handling this campaign because in some cases they didn’t want to participate in this campaign or they didn’t knew how to explain it.

Why is this problem relevant?  

Throughout the history of America, racial issues have been a constant thing in mankind, which remains in the collective memory as a sensitive switch that can be altered with minimal effort.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-28 a las 6.50.20 p.m..pngAmerica is a country where different cultures coexist, so it can be difficult to reach an agreement on understanding certain m
essages directed to very different audiences .

People always decrypt messages in their own way, so it does not guarantee that the message is interpreted correctly, it is possible to prevent such situations through preventive surveys in order to know the opinion of the general public, especially when a problematic has been developing issues through generations.

You must have a very clear understanding about how these activities affect people. Above all, it is about to be truly empathetic with the problems of the people and understand them from the humanitarian point of view before attempting to simply use it as a marketing strategy.

Starbucks may not acted in the proper way to deal with this issue, but on the other hand is one of the few big enterprises that has done anything about the topic to make people conscious about today´s problems. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks said “Silence is not our way”. Maybe they didn’t have the best strategy for solving the problem other than the only one possible, but they made a reflection and tried to make people aware of this important topic. For sure, they have learned their lesson and they aren’t going to make the same mistakes again. They will probably make new communication strategies to deliver their messages in a more clear way as they try to make new campaigns with social impact like the ones they have been doing along the past years. This case shows people and enterprises an example of what happens if their is not a good communication strategy, therefore everyone needs to be careful with their communication objectives. If you have further interest in the article, watch the next videos with different point of views about Starbucks´s campaign.

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