I received the following letter in my inbox today from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Immediately I am seeing responses both in favor and against the email on their Facebook Fan page and various Tweets (#Starbucks) Twitter. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the potential flood of fans or critics on their social media platforms.
What do you think? Should a brand like Starbucks voice their position on or about politics? What could the ramifications be for the brand?
The Email Letter…
Dear Starbucks Friend and Fellow Citizen:
I love our country. And I am a beneficiary of the promise of America. But today, I am very concerned that at times I do not recognize the America that I love.
Like so many of you, I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failure of leadership in Washington. And also like you, I am frustrated by our political leaders’ steadfast refusal to recognize that, for every day they perpetuate partisan conflict and put ideology over country, America and Americans suffer from the combined effects of paralysis and uncertainty. Americans can’t find jobs. Small businesses can’t get credit. And the fracturing of consumer confidence continues.
We are better than this.
Three weeks ago, I asked fellow business leaders to join me in urging the President and the Congress to put an end to partisan gridlock and, in its place, to set in motion an upward spiral of confidence. More than 100 business leaders representing American companies – large and small – joined me in signing a two-part pledge:
First, to withhold political campaign contributions until a transparent, comprehensive, bipartisan debt-and-deficit package is reached that honestly, and fairly, sets America on a path to long-term financial health and security. Second, to do all we can to break the cycle of economic uncertainty that grips our country by committing to accelerate investment in jobs and hiring.
In the weeks since then, I have been overwhelmed by the heartfelt stories of Americans from across the country, sharing their anguish over losing hope in the strongest and most galvanizing force of all – the American Dream. Some feel they have no voice. Others feel they no longer matter. And many feel they have been left behind.
We cannot let this stand.
Please join other concerned Americans and me on a national call-in conversation on Tuesday September 6th hosted by “No Labels,” a nonpartisan organization dedicated to fostering cooperative and more effective government. To learn more about the forum and the pledges, visit www.upwardspiral2011.org
America is at a fragile and critical moment in its history. We must restore hope in the American Dream. We must celebrate all that America stands for around the world. And while our Founding Fathers recognized the constructive value of political debate, we must send the message to today’s elected officials in a civil, respectful voice they hear and understand, that the time to put citizenship ahead of partisanship is now.
Yours is the voice that can help ignite the contagious upward spiral of confidence that our country desperately needs.
With great respect,
chief executive officer, Starbucks Coffee Company
Erik Hultman (a.k.a. E) is the Founder and President of ÜberBlueDM, Inc., specializing in Social Media Solutions and Social Media Staffing Solutions for businesses to build their social media success.