Thursday, January 29, 2009

A New Goodwill Era Toward Social PR?

Corporate America deserves, in this instance, a pat on the back.

- Bon Jovi, on Oprah! TV show, quoted in Emily Bryson York, "Starbuck's Volunteer Push Gets Boost From 'Oprah Effect'," Advertising Age, January 1, 2009.

Bon Jovi and Oprah Winfrey both heralded Starbucks' campaign to promote volunteerism as part of the new era of social concern ushered in by the presidency of Barak Obama. The Starbuck "I'm In" campaign encourages consumers to pledge five hours of community service during 2009. If you commit to doing that at Starbucks between now and Sunday, you'll get a free coffee.

Starbucks contacted Oprah after an Election Day free-coffee promotion. When she liked the idea, the public relations blitz began. "The chain later organized an ad buy at Online ads promoting "I'm In" are also appearing at Slate, Huffington Post,,, CNN and Facebook, among other sites."

Of course, a cynic would say that the troubled coffee chain is simply riding a wave of Obama love with an activity--the circulation of free cofee--that it has done in the past only for its own publicity. Moreover, no one will track whether the people who pledge the five hours to get coffee actually carry out their promise. But Oprah, Bon Jovi and others chose to be optimistic. Perhaps it was the halo-effect of the good will surrounding the new president.

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