The “Dump Starbucks” campaign—What are your thoughts?

I usually try to stay away from hot button political and religious debates via social media, but I came across a YouTube video today that got me thinking. Watch the video below.


The video doesn’t do a great job of explaining the background of the “Dump Starbucks” movement, so I Googled it and came across a website for the campaign. Unbeknownst to me, Starbucks apparently released a public statement back in January in support of gay marriage. Feathers were ruffled, and a group banded together in protest and launched an online petition.

It wasn’t so much the issue on whether gay marriage is right or wrong that got me thinking, but rather the logic behind the entire Dump Starbucks campaign in the first place. I find the logic very flawed. Here’s why.

  1. It’s unclear to me whether Dump Starbucks protesters are more upset about gay marriage or the fact that Starbucks has taken an open stance on it. Perhaps it’s a combination of both, but I have to believe that gay marriage in general is at the core. To me, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Wouldn’t it be more effective to channel your anti-gay marriage efforts to law makers as opposed to honing in on a coffee company?
  2. By buying a cup of Starbucks coffee, then walking outside and dumping in a sewer, a Dump Starbucks supporter is essentially funding the very source of the entire protest. Wouldn’t a more impactful form of protest be to just not buy Starbucks coffee in the first place, and urging others to do the same?
  3. As you can see at 0:51 in the video, the pastor appears to have added a caveat that pouring coffee down a sewer could be harmful to the environment. Are Dump Starbucks supports really that passionate about the movement that they’re willing destroy the environment in the process? Seems totally counterproductive to me. I found the “Sorry, earth” comment with the little frowny face next to it to be both laughable and disturbing at the same time.
  4. According to the Dump Starbucks homepage, “Starbucks has deeply offended at least half its US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers.” Oh, really? Half? Starbucks has 12,811 US and 6,744 international locations serving more than 60 million customers each week. I would argue that only a fraction of Starbucks’ customers are even aware of the company’s stance on gay marriage. Making up and/or grossly overestimating statistics is not an effective way of gaining support.

I won’t go to all of this trouble without telling you what my personal stance on gay marriage is. I feel that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I have no problem with strong efforts of support on either side of this debate, but if you’re going to protest something, you need to be sending clear messages as to what and why you’re protesting, without highlighting your stance with ridiculously exaggerated statistics.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you think of the Dump Starbucks movement?

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    • BB
    • May 19th, 2012

    I understand why they buy the coffee and pour it down the drain – it creates more shock value. We might not be talking about this if they simply decided to boycott Starbucks.

    However, if you’re going to create buzz then you need some substance within your movement. It’s really unclear what their intentions are. They don’t appear to be asking Starbucks to reverse their stance. They don’t appear to be asking for anything.

    To your fourth point, I’m a loyal Starbucks customer. I wasn’t aware of this issue until I read this blog post. While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I’m not offended by their stance. To be offended would also to be opposed to free speech, right?

  1. Whenever I see campaigns against corporations I always think about the PR and possible revenue ramifications from their efforts. In my opinion this protest is doing the exact opposite of its message. First it’s publicizing the fact that Starbucks is in support of gay marriage. Honestly I think the consumer demographic of heavy Starbucks users is pro equal rights for any sexuality (a major assumption, but I am confident in it.). Thus by getting the word out about Starbucks stance its users will be even prouder of the brand they love. Second is the same point Mr. Burns* made in his blog that the protesters are giving Starbucks business by buying the coffee. This makes no sense. Picket, rally, create websites and videos, but don’t increase the company’s revenue in order to do this.

    This whole campaign reeks of unorganized leadership. A simple goal-setting meeting at the beginning of this would have elevated most of these problems. What is the true goal of this campaign: To get people to stop buying Starbucks. So I don’t think the first step should have been to have people go out and buy Starbucks. Don’t feed the brand you are trying to destroy. Not real deep thinking could have come to this conclusion. Starbucks is the real winner is the under developed ploy. Small minded people trying to execute a major endeavor usually turn sour quick. This effort is no different.

    *As I was trying to think of the best way to reference you in my response I figured a Simpsons mention was the best way to go.

    • Cameron
    • May 20th, 2012

    I agree with everything you said. Poorly constructed, poorly thought-out…akin to the burning of Beatles albums after Lennons infamous “we’re bigger than Jesus” remark. Just dumb.

    • Kp
    • March 24th, 2013

    In my honest opinion i don’t think Starbucks really cares people are dumping their coffee because now more people are coming in to buy coffee just to get rid of it. It’s not like Starbucks is getting anything bad out of this because I’m sure that the sales have increased plus they’re getting more advertisement. But I’m sure all these people that are “dumping” are environmentalist yet they’re doing more damage to earth than they are to Starbucks! So to all you people wasting your time dumping and makin post good job supporting Starbucks! Gays have just as much rights to be married as anyone else. This is America remember? Home of the free, right? Yeah so that means we are FREE to love who we please! 🙂

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