What would you do for a free cuppa’ joe?

blog_starbucks.jpgWould you consider five hours of community service to support a local food bank? Or perhaps mentor a child (significant others don’t count!)? So Starbucks asks… are you in?

With his boldly dressed lady at his side, the President proclaimed his tenure to be a “new era of responsibility” and a call to service for all U.S. citizens (and hello… denizens!) to “find meaning in something greater than themselves.” Perhaps it’s all that caffeine, but Starbucks was right there ahead of the pack, heeding the new president’s words and ready to take on the tall order – and fill it too.

Working with the Hands On Network (ironically, now part of Points of Light Institute, a federally funded program initially launched in 1989 by former President George H.W. Bush to engage volunteers), the Seattle coffee chain will reward participants with a free tall brewed coffee for simply pledging 5 hours of community service. It’s part of Starbuck’s shared planet initiative and their commitment to contribute over 1 million hours of community service. Starbucks collaborated with MC Yogi, another service-minded soul, with a video to jumpstart the “Pledge 5” promotion that runs from January 22nd to the 25th.

Cause related marketing has been on the tip of the tongue for many marketers these past months, but Starbuck’s has been one of the most rigorous about integrating its social stance into its ad messaging and it shows, whether rewarding folks for voting on election day with (yes, say it with me…) a free cup of coffee to a tie-in with Bono’s long-running Red project to today’s “Pledge 5” campaign. Despite sluggish sales for the Seattle brewster and more reports of doom, its corporate spirit and tenacity to stay and do good is pretty strong. Some might sneer at the gesture of peddling out yet more free coffee, but sampling and generosity has and always will be valued. Both Starbucks and Obama know that they have their work cut out for them and neither is planning on riding it out alone. It takes a good lead, good team — and Lord knows a good dose of caffeine couldn’t hurt.

Free coffee or not, let’s get to work – together. Pledge 5.

Oh, yes you can.

Filed: branding

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