Seeing (RED)©

Coffee cup.jpeg

A few weeks ago during a break at a conference I was attending, I wandered into the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and ordered a coffee. I am not much of a coffee drinker these days, but I felt the need for some liquid refreshment. I generally prefer Peets anyway because they have great teas, and still make espresso the right way by hand tamping. Starbucks’ push button technology smoothes out all the variations that makes life interesting.

But what really caught my attention was the paper insulating band. The first item I noticed was a promise to donate a nickel to the Global Fund for every purchase of a (RED)© exclusive beverage which were listed as: Peppermint Mocha Twist, Gingersnap Latte, and Espresso Truffle. (RED)© is a program to raise funds for the Global Fund through donations by participating firms, like Starbucks, Apple, and others with very well-known brands. If people were really interested in “saving lives in Africa,” it would seem more effective if they simply would forgo one of these exotic drinks and send the money directly. It shouldn’t be necessary to buy something as a quid pro quo for a charitable, caring act. Somehow there is something strange about this message.

But what really caught my eye was Starbucks’ implicit boasting about how they were taking care of the planet. Next to a trademarked logo depicting a coffee bean inside of some sort of frame, I read these words: “Starbucksâ„¢ Shared Planetâ„¢. It’s bigger than coffee.” I surely hope so. Why any firm would even think of comparing what they do or sell to the Planet we live on is beyond me. I seems to me that humility is called for, not arrogance or some overly inflated sense of a corporate ego.

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2 Comments

Fai said:

The interesting thing about the RED program, and other programs that increase their brand by satisfying the consumer's desire/guilt to do good, is that it does a) highlight the AIDS problem in Africa b) provides a tangible way for the average person to participate c) collect badly needed funds. As far as marketing goes, the sexier it is to donate towards treating and preventing AIDS in Africa the better.

Another interesting aspect of the RED program is that it keeps HIV/AIDS in the American consciousness. What would really impress me, though, is if this kind of program would remind us of our own accountability (that peer pressure you mentioned in a later post), which may actually get us to write that check or even better, get tested.


hg said:

Another interesting aspect of the RED program is that it keeps HIV/AIDS in the American consciousness. What would really impress me, though, is if this kind of program would remind us of our own accountability (that peer pressure you mentioned in a later post), which may actually get us to write that check or even better, get tested.