Starbucks has scrambled out a press release announcing new veterans perks as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility programme, in an obvious bid to quell right-wing anger over its controversial, anti-Christmas “Red Cups”.
The news, first broken by Breitbart London last week – soon picked up and became an international news sensation, with both Christian and non-Christian groups incensed over Starbucks’ whitewashing of Christmas from its traditional Red Cups.
But now Starbucks has taken the step of press releasing on a new veterans policy – including the hiring of more former U.S. military personnel, as well as a plan to provide “partners who are current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with an additional tuition-free education to extend to a spouse or child”.
While the Starbucks Red Cups story started in London, England, most of the citizen anger has been expressed in the United States, after Christian groups and individuals seized on the Breitbart London scoop. Recently, U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump even implied that it might be time to boycott Starbucks over its anti-Christmas sentiment.
And while Starbucks’ commitment to helping former U.S. troops is not new – they have helped with tuition for veterans who work for them for some time – the timing of the press release on the back of the Red Cups saga, as well as in tandem with Veterans’ Day in the United States, could be viewed as a public relations effort aimed at conservative voters and families who may have been affronted by the War on Christmas story.
Starbucks press release has been picked up on, and published almost verbatim, by left wing outlets such as TIME magazine, CNN, the Washington Post, and more.
Howard Schultz, the group’s CEO, told CNN: “If somebody gets a college degree at [Arizona State University] through Starbucks and they want to leave, it’s great for the country, and it’s great for the Starbucks brand”.
“We have a responsibility as a nation to honour our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, but it goes beyond saying thank you – we must put our thanks into action and collectively help those who are making the transition from military to civilian life,” said Mr. Schultz.
“Not only do we have a moral duty to engage veterans once they leave the service, we know that doing so in a meaningful way will ultimately strengthen our nation.”
Whether or not the PR effort helps Starbucks win back customers remains to be seen.