Starbucks just pulled the plug on its controversial “Race Together” campaign–after less than a week.
Just a few days ago, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz–who has a long history in liberal activism–announced that baristas would be writing, “Race Together,” on coffee cups they give to consumers, to spark a conversation about racism in America.
Schultz stressed that this campaign was “so vitally important to the country… Let me assure we didn’t expect universal praise. We leaned in because we believe starting this dialogue is what matters most.”
Does that sound like an awkward to have over your morning coffee? You’re not alone.
“Race Together” didn’t get anything close to “universal praise.” Almost immediately, it faced mounting criticism on social media that even Starbuck’s senior vice president admitted was “a cascade of negativity.”
NPR host Karen Grigsby Bates summed up popular opinion best: “Well, some people think it’s just a naked marketing ploy, kind of a catalyst for free advertising… Other people think it was well-intentioned but really poorly executed.”
Even liberal comedians–like Larry Wilmore, the star of “The Nightly Show” and formerly a correspondent Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”–have been having a field day with making fun of “Race Together.”
Whether or not Starbucks was sincere about starting a conversation on race, it’s clear that the ham-handed idea of having a Starbucks barista strike up a conversation with customers about race over their morning coffee was universally seen as strange and uncomfortable.
And, thankfully, the Starbucks management team has seen the writing on the wall–and agreed to allow America to drink their morning coffee in peace.