The water got too hot for Starbucks’ ill-defined race crusade.
The java giant is pulling the plug on its controversial “Race Together” campaign, according to a company memo from CEO Howard Schultz.
Baristas were no longer to write “Race Together” on customers’ cups starting Sunday, concluding the most visible part of the company’s diversity and racial equality campaign.
The unorthodox marketing move was supposed to turn the coffee corporation’s stores into impromptu forums for racial dialogues, but even Starbucks staffers seemed confused by it.
Many said they barely had enough time to fill out orders and were never briefed about the campaign before it was launched, the Daily News reported last week.
“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” Schultz said Sunday.
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz speaks during the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Seattle, Washington March 18, 2015. Starbucks Corp will begin offering delivery in New York City and Seattle later this year, when it also plans to expand mobile order and pay services across the United States.
Starbucks has no plans to stop other parts of the initiative, including forums and the hiring of 10,000 employees from diverse backgrounds to man new coffee shops in disadvantaged urban areas.
The race crusade was largely panned by employees after it was launched Monday. Some baristas were reluctant to use their stickers during busy shifts, or were just uncomfortable diving into their personal opinions.
The marketing campaign’s backlash included sarcastic tweets revolving around the #RaceTogether hashtag, but the corporation’s intentions did earn support from one community leader in St. Louis, Missouri. Alderman Antonio French, who has remained vocal on ending racial tensions since the shooting death of Michael Brown, applauded the move.
Starbucks Will Stop Writing ‘Race Together’ on Coffee Cups
“The scale of the attempt alone is worth praise,” French tweeted Saturday.
Schultz maintained the campaign was designed to make sure that “the promise of the American Dream should be available to every person in this country, not just a select few.”