Maybe Howard Schultz Should Run for President

Monday, October 3, 2011

Starbucks Chairman Howard Shultz talks to the ...Image via WikipediaStarbucks will accept donations starting November 1 in an effort to create a money pool for loans given to small businesses. The effort is meant to get more Americans working, says Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. He tells BusinessWeek in a story published today:

“We’re going to raise millions of dollars,” Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said today in a telephone interview, declining to give a specific number. “This is about Americans helping Americans,” he said. “We’re not going to wait for Washington.”
In August, Schultz, 58, asked fellow CEOs and business leaders to boycott donating to U.S. political campaigns to encourage leaders to solve the nation’s growing budget deficit. Last month, he sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress urging them to put partisanship aside to find a solution to unemployment.
Starbucks will open at least 200 new stores and remodel 1,700 locations in the U.S. this fiscal year, which will create “well over 2,000 jobs,” Schultz said. “Business leaders can step up and we can create a renewed level of confidence by investing in the economy and creating job opportunities.”
The coffee company opened 27 net new stores in the U.S. in the quarter ended July 3.

Is the small business loans drive meant to create more Starbucks chain stores?  Apparently, no. It looks like Starbucks is donating the first $5 million dollars and the campaign will be run a little like the Pepsi Refresh campaign. There will be a website, and people can choose the donations they wish to make. 

To me this seems like an avenue for further social media usage by Starbucks, though it's not clear they are going to go that route. I'd like to get the opinions of advertising and marketing people on this one. People criticized the Refresh campaign because, from an advertising and marketing perspective, the money was not tied to direct conversions of Pepsi products. 

But the millions spent on Refresh led to more brand loyalty, argue defenders of the proposition. Could the same happen for Starbucks? 

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