As Starbucks embarked on a year-long 40th anniversary celebration, the company was determined to showcase a forward-looking community engagement model to help fuel its goals for global growth. Galvanizing partners (Starbucks name for employees), customers and communities, Starbucks executed a global brand refresh designed to invigorate its brand worldwide, and, as an actionable proof point in Starbucks commitment to the communities it serves, Starbucks declared April 2011 to be its global month of service. Edelman helped Starbucks activate more than 58,000 partners and customers through 1,400+ service events in 27 countries on four continents, resulting in more than 200 million media impressions, $3.3 million estimated financial value of community service projects and a 9% increase (within five months) in public perception that Starbucks is a valued part of the community.

Situation Analysis
By the fall of 2010, customers and partners around the world viewed Starbucks as a faltering company that had lost its identity and way. Starbucks needed to demonstrate financial health, a global recommitment to the company’s founding values, a plan for intelligent growth and a clear vision for the future, accomplished through five months of special programming including a global 40th anniversary celebration, a 16-market book tour, a 16-market Partner World Tour and a global month of service.

Prior to 2011, Starbucks was viewed as a leader in corporate responsibility, but this praise was limited to the company’s employee health care program and corporate giving. Edelman and Starbucks needed to leverage the global month of service to create a powerful moment in time that would deepen Starbucks relationships with local communities all around the world and set the stage for an increased focus on Starbucks’ community engagement in the months and years to come.

To position Starbucks as a community service leader and reinstate trust in Starbucks as a brand, Starbucks’ commitment to a global month of service in April 2011 needed to activate and connect with partners and customers worldwide, upholding Starbucks promise to help create thriving neighborhoods everywhere it does business. Six marquee service events held in key global markets would serve as rallying points for customers and partners to work together to make a tangible impact in their communities, building momentum for the more than 1,400 service events that would take place before the month’s end.

Deepen relationships with customers and partners around the world in order to reestablish and strengthen loyalty to the Starbucks brand.

Create awareness around Starbucks global month of service by leveraging six marquee events as galvanizing sparks to engage partners and customers in their communities and reaffirm Starbucks’ position as a leader in community engagement. 

Generate excitement among partners and customers, driving attendance to the more than 1,400 service activities taking place around the world.

Target/Audience Analysis
To relate Starbucks’ story of growth, transformation and connection and to align all stakeholders with its vision for the next 40 years, the brand first needed to give its stakeholder groups a reason to trust the company, reigniting passion and loyalty.

Through audience and conversation analysis, Starbucks identified several global audiences to activate over the course of the campaign:
• Customers needed to be engaged to ensure awareness and excitement about Starbucks’ fresh look and products and reclaim confidence in it.
• Partners needed to be recognized for their vital role in the turnaround and energized for the future.
• Service enthusiasts and influencers needed to be convinced of the company’s commitment to supporting the global communities in which it does business.

The following trends guided planning:

Edelman’s 4th Annual Good Purpose Study:
• 71% of global consumers believe brands and consumers could do more to support good causes by working together
• 63% of global consumers want brands to make it easier for them to make a positive difference

Edelman’s Trust Barometer study:
• People trust NGOs more than businesses to do what is right
• Current media landscape plus increased skepticism requires multiple voices and channels

An internal Starbucks survey was also used to define audience and approach:
• 80%  of partners are interested in participating in volunteer activities in their communities

Use owned, traditional and social channels to create awareness and issue a call to action for partners and customers around the world to participate in the six global marquee events, as well as the thousands of local partner-driven service events taking place throughout the month of April.

Employ a “rolling thunder” approach to share key messages in a meaningful way to targeted audiences by:
• Capitalizing on pre-existing media moments to create awareness and excitement for the Global Month of Service.
• Telling our story in our own words to establish the tone and direction of future discussion.
• Driving local media interest to marquee and other local service events.
• Amplifying the message through third-party advocates.
• Creating marquee event experiences to fuel participation across the board.

Five tactics enabled Starbucks to share a compelling message and connect directly with stakeholders worldwide:

1. Capitalize on pre-existing media moments
• Starbucks 40th Anniversary celebration (Mar): Starbucks upcoming global month of service included in messaging around global unveil as another proof point in Starbucks brand refresh. The team used this opportunity to push out the news of the Marquee events in top-tier media on a global scale.
• Earth Day (Apr): Teams created hook for attracting media attention to local events by positioning service activities as a great way to celebrate Earth Day.
2. Tell our story in our own words
• Handcrafted advertorial piece discussing Starbucks commitment to community in United Hemispheres reached more than 12 million people.
• Co-bylined op-ed by Cliff Burrows (president, Starbucks) and Michelle Nunn (CEO, Points of Light) on Huffington Post shared the reason for Starbucks month of service, framing present and future conversations.
3. Drive local media interest
• Crafted targeted media pitches with local relevance to secure coverage and increase reader awareness of local service events.
• Drove marquee event attendance through calendar listings and local buzz.
4. Amplify the message through third-party advocates
• Partnered with HandsOn Network for dedicated blog post, shared through HandsOn Network and Starbucks digital channels.
• Launched a 3-year partnership between Starbucks UK, Starbucks Ireland and with UK Youth during London Marquee Event.
5. Create Marquee Event experiences to fuel participation across the board
• Engaged partners, customers and shareholders around the world by uniting with a common goal of investing time and effort to improve local communities.
• Demonstrated Starbucks worldwide commitment to the Global Month of Service by staging six Marquee Events in four countries on three continents.

Evaluation of Success/Measurement
Deepen Relationships
• “I’m so proud of my company because it’s actually contributing to the society of China instead of just doing business here.” -Li, Partner at Shanghai event
• Nearly 90% of Partners said they had a “Good” or “Amazing” time and would participate in future service opportunities2
• Nearly one in four customers believe “Starbucks is a valued part of my community,” up 9% since Jan. 20111
• 29% of customers who participated in Marquee events were inspired to volunteer for the first time because of Starbucks1
Create Awareness
• “Starbucks, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, is joining with non-profits to make April a month of service…Right now, it's just the pioneers, but as it becomes clear that doing good is good for business, more companies are sure to join” - Arianna Huffington
• 213+ million impressions; 1,873 media placements
• 80%+ message pull-through in feature coverage
Generate Excitement
• “This is more than just planting gardens. This is the start of economic change for our community.” Volunteer, Toronto Event
• 1,400 service events worldwide, 58,000 partners and customers engaged
• 6 marquee events reached capacity
• $3.3 million estimated financial value of community service projects

Venders Involved in Campaign
To ensure accuracy in reporting and successful, consistent events, two separate Edelman practice groups were engaged:
• StrategyOne lead the ongoing survey and research needs and also coverage reporting throughout the campaign.
Brand Experience handled event planning and execution support.