As pundits from across the media landscape wring their hands over the “debacle” created by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s “#RaceTogether” campaign, questions remain as to what impact this event will have on the company, the race relations “conversation,” or even whether this blatant attempt at social engineering really is a debacle at all.
If raising Starbucks’ – or Howard Schultz’s – visibility as a potential agent of social change was the objective, it’s hard to argue this isn’t a masterpiece of good, if not unintended, consequences. It would have taken tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in print and broadcast advertising to put Starbucks back into the minds of American consumers as vividly as this past weekend’s “mistake.”
And if Schultz’s attempt to stretch the meaning of his brand ultimately fell short, perhaps he learned a valuable lesson about what consumers want from their brands. Maybe it is as simple as fulfilling their core brand promise to begin with, and nothing more.
For me, I take my coffee black.
With more than 30 years of proven expertise Michael brings extensive experience in corporate positioning, strategic marketing, financial communications and investor relations counsel to organizations undergoing significant change. Michael began his career in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s, where from 1984 to 1991 he directed investor relations and corporate communications for Chips and Technologies, Inc., the inventor of integrated PC chipsets that helped put such companies as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Dell into the IBM-compatible PC business they came to dominate. An early member of the start-up team, he helped launch more than 100 new products and directed investor relations during the company’s transition from private to publicly held entity.
Michael received a B.A. in philosophy of language and an M.A. in rhetoric, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management Entrepreneurial Boot Camp, 2005.