Is altruism the secret ingredient in Starbucks’ success?
While it has sometimes stumbled, Starbucks under CEO Howard Schultz has attempted to be a force for social good. In keeping with that philosophy, the coffee giant has launched an original web series — Upstanders — with the goal of highlighting stories in which individuals and communities come together to confront societal challenges in positive, collaborative ways.
The 10-part series, which was written and produced by Mr. Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks’ executive producer and a former senior editor at The Washington Post, is available in written, video and podcast formats.
“We’ve asked ourselves what is the role and responsibility of a public company and, as citizens, how we can catalyze hope in a time when we need more optimism, empathy, compassion and leadership,” said Mr. Schultz in a statement. “The upstanders featured in this series are inspiring individuals whose actions are emblematic of the American spirit and what is missing from so much of today’s national dialogue. We have always been storytellers at heart, and more of these stories need to be heard. We are using our scale to share them as broadly as possible.”
In an interview with Fortune, Mr. Schultz asserted that the series is not intended as a branding exercise for Starbucks.
“I don’t think there is one physical evidence of a Starbucks cup or logo in the stories,” Mr. Schultz told the magazine. “We wanted it to be authentic and the stories needed to be about the people and not about our company and marketing Starbucks.”
Mr. Schultz and company are celebrating the subjects of the series this month through a run of town hall presentations in Dallas, Deerfield, FL, Memphis and Washington, D.C. The series, which is being promoted in Starbucks locations across the country, is available at Starbucks.com/Upstanders, which is powered by a new social change platform called Fotition.
The stories in the Uplander series are titled:
- The Mosque Across the Street
- Breaking the Prison Pipeline
- Homes for Everyone
- Scholarships for Every Student
- The Kids Who Killed an Incinerator
- The Hunger Hack
- The Empathetic Police Academy
- Employing the Full Spectrum
- A Warrior’s Workout
- Building Homes. Building Lives.
- “Upstanders,” a Starbucks Original Series, Inspires Positive Change Amidst Cynicism in America – Starbucks
- Why Starbucks Is Launching A Web Series – Fortune
- Starbucks sets goal to donate all unsold food to charity – RetailWire
- Starbucks leads effort to hire 100,000 young people – RetailWire
- Starbucks to workers: College is on us – RetailWire
- Starbucks gets scalded with response to #RaceTogether campaign – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think other retailers are essentially “storytellers at heart” in the way Starbucks is? How do you think the launch of the Upstanders series and promotional campaign will affect how consumers in the U.S. view the Starbucks brand?