Ottawa Citizen

Star­bucks cups be­come po­lit­i­cal tool

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NEW YORK • Star­bucks is us­ing its cof­fee cups to jump into the po­lit­i­cal fray in Washington.

The world’s big­gest cof­fee chain is ask­ing em­ploy­ees at cafés in the Washington, D.C. area to scrib­ble the words “Come To­gether” on cups for drink or­ders on Thurs­day and Fri­day. CEO Howard Schultz says the words are in­tended as a mes­sage to law­mak­ers about the dam­age be­ing caused by the di­vi­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions over the “fis­cal cliff.”

It’s the first time em­ploy­ees at Star­bucks cafés are be­ing asked to write any­thing other than cus­tomers’ names on cups.

While com­pa­nies gen­er­ally steer clear of pol­i­tics to avoid alien­at­ing cus­tomers, the plea to “Come To­gether” is a sen­ti­ment un­likely to cause con­tro­versy. If any­thing, Star­bucks could score points with cus­tomers and bur­nish its im­age as a so­cially con­scious com­pany.

This isn’t the first time the cof­fee chain is us­ing its plat­form to send a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage. In the sum­mer of 2011, Schultz also asked other CEOs and the pub­lic to stop mak­ing cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions un­til politi­cians found a way to deal with a cri­sis over the debt ceil­ing that led to a down­grade in the coun­try’s credit rat­ing.

For the lat­est push, Star­bucks is tak­ing out an ad in the Washington Post on Thurs­day show­ing a cup with the words “Come To­gether” on it.

The “fis­cal cliff ” refers to the steep tax hikes and spend­ing cuts set to take ef­fect Jan. 1, un­less the White House and Congress reach an agree­ment to avoid them.

As for whether cus­tomers will be con­fused by the “Come To­gether” mes­sage or un­der­stand that it’s re­lated to the fis­cal cliff, Schultz said in an in­ter­view that there’s wide pub­lic aware­ness about the ne­go­ti­a­tions and that Star­bucks will use so­cial me­dia to ex­plain the ef­fort.

The Seat­tle-based com­pany says test runs at se­lect stores showed op­er­a­tions wouldn’t be slowed.

 ?? EVA HAM­BACH/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES ?? A Star­bucks barista fol­lows the com­pany’s re­quest to write “come to­gether” on cups to pres­sure law­mak­ers to com­pro­mise on a deal to avert a year-end fis­cal cri­sis.
EVA HAM­BACH/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES A Star­bucks barista fol­lows the com­pany’s re­quest to write “come to­gether” on cups to pres­sure law­mak­ers to com­pro­mise on a deal to avert a year-end fis­cal cri­sis.

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