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Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video 492

Posted by kdawson
from the better-latte-than-never dept.
Kligmond writes "Last week, Starbucks placed a video on YouTube responding to a video posted by the Oxfam Charity. The Oxfam video was launched in conjunction with 'Starbucks Day of Action,' held December 16th, when activists visited Starbucks locations across the world in protest of the coffee retailer's alleged mistreatment of Ethiopian farmers. The Starbucks video calmly addresses the Oxfam allegations, citing an impasse over Ethiopian trademark legalities. Starbucks claims the refusal to sign a trademark agreement with Ethiopia is a stumbling block they hope to resolve on behalf of the farmers. The coffee chain's representative goes on to refute the contention that Starbucks refuses to pay a fair price for its coffee reserves and, in fact, routinely pays well above commodity price, and above fair trade price. Unlike many recent ineffectual corporate reactions to social journalism and networking eruptions, Starbucks' response is unique in that the corporation managed Oxfam's unconventional assault in a very unconventional way, via YouTube. Regardless of the outcome of this particular incident, the move on Starbucks' part comes off as unmistakably in touch with today's communication modes and methods."
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Starbucks Responds In Kind To Oxfam YouTube Video

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:22PM (#17436452)
    Next time do a little research Oxfam. Starbucks is one of the most socially responsible companies out there. They are pretty much why their is such a thing as "fair trade" coffee.

    And to all the people that say *bucks pushes out the mom and pops: when was the last time they offered carreers or health insurance?
  • by the dark hero (971268) <adriatic_hero@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:26PM (#17436498) Homepage
    While working at starbucks they urge you to be an absolute coffee enthusiast(not necessarily a drinker), but they really do well in taking care of its employees, surrounding community and the farmers.

    Here is the mission statement that they live their lives by:

    Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:

    * Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

    * Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

    * Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.

    * Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

    * Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

    * Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @06:35PM (#17436588)

    Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

    For a company that exists purely to homogenise and standardise everything about the way it operates, that's a hilarious thing to have in their "mission statement".

  • by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:19PM (#17437078)
    Nonsense. Capitalism is a failure unless it is tempered by regulation:

    1. Capitalism allows for and indeed promotes exploitation of common resources, putting immediate profits over long-term sustainability in things like the air and water quality, fish populations, or eco-diversity. Not even post-damage litigation can undue the damage done, and in many cases post-damage litigation is hampered because the original instigators are dead or retired or have spent all their gains. The short-sighted nature of capitalism is one of its biggest drawbacks, and it must be constantly balanced with the long-term views of governments and social groups.

    2. Because of the barriers to entry in many markets, capitalism's long-term stable state is that of monopoly. Monopolies can be the logical result of some markets, but exploitation of a monopoly in one market to affect other, developing markets goes against the principles of capitalism. In other words, without regulation capitalism destroys itself.

    3. Capitalism encourages greed. Without question, money can be a good driver for innovation, which can in turn benefit more people than those who got rich. At the same time, greed to the point of exploitation, creating a poverty class to finance the wealth of the upper class, is not stable in the long term due for political reasons (namely, revolutions). As the political instability will itself disrupt markets, capitalism must be throttled to maintain a minimum standard of living for the poorest classes.

    Regulated capitalism is the fairest trade system in the history of man. That regulation can include fair trade/fair price practices. Unregulated capitalism is a cancer that will eventually kill itself and, possibly, everything else.
  • by iambarry (134796) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @07:57PM (#17437460) Homepage
    Strangely, Oxfam and Starbucks had been working together on Fair Trade up until October of 2004 - see : http://www.oxfamamerica.org/newsandpublications/pr ess_releases/archive2002/art3007.html [oxfamamerica.org]

    There's even some allegation that Oxfam stopped working with Starbucks due to political pressure ( see http://society.guardian.co.uk/charitymanagement/st ory/0,,1430638,00.html [guardian.co.uk] )
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:05PM (#17437518)
    Except it didn't end due to political pressure as the article makes clear.

    It also makes it clear that Starbucks are not the most "Fairtrade" around as some here suggest.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:29PM (#17437774) Homepage Journal
    Read this. [wikipedia.org] The darker you roast, the less it matters what kind of bean you started with -- all beans are the same. For a national brand, that is desirable.
  • by Watson Ladd (955755) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @08:45PM (#17437922)
    What did they bungle? If you just watched the two videos you have no idea who is telling the truth. But the Guardian published a story [guardian.co.uk] confirming Oxfam's position.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @09:46PM (#17438516) Journal
    Newer is better, although after three days you don't have to worry because it's gotten as bad as it's going to get for weeks. After three days, gourmet coffee will still taste good, but 90% of what differentiates, say, an east African coffee from a central American coffee is gone. That $30/pound Kona or Blue Mountain is now no different than a good $6/pound Columbian.

    Some differences, notably body and acidity, will still be there, but the complex and subtle flavors have all evaporated.

    A clinker is a lightweight, immature bean that tastes awful. Ever taste rancid, burnt, grassy, or hay-like flavors in coffee? If brewing isn't the problem, those flavors are most likely from clinkers.

    That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about coffee. I only know all this because my college girlfriend worked at a REALLY snooty coffe roaster, Willoughby's in New Haven, CT. If you want to try some really good coffee, I think they do mail-order.
  • by h2_plus_O (976551) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @09:52PM (#17438568)
    Giving the Ethiopian government trademarks on ethiopian regions so that they (the ethiopian government) can manage the branding of the beans that come from those regions wouldn't accomplish what the oxfam people want- it might enrich the ethiopian government, but would do little to benefit the co-op growers. What Starbucks wants (that is, regional certification of beans, rather than granting the ethiopian government a monopoly on the use of the names) would accomplish the same branding result- the ability for regional growers to market beans from that region at a premium. The reason the Ethiopian government doesn't like that is that it wouldn't own the brand names.
    The Ethiopian government already owns too much of the coffee business. According to the CIA fact book, [http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcethiopi a.htm] "Under Ethiopia's land tenure system, the government owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans".

    Oxfam seems to have cast Starbucks as the big, bad, mean corporation exploiting poor agricultural workers in a third world country and denying those poor Ethiopians the right to their own region names. Another equally valid view is that Starbucks sees the co-op growers and their government as being distinct, and wants to benefit the growers rather than giving more of their business away to their landlords. Certainly there's something in it for Starbucks- they don't want to pay a royalty to what is essentially a 3rd party for the ability to sell ethiopian coffee as ethiopian coffee. The ethiopian government doesn't want regional certification of beans because it wants a direct royalty on the use of the region names- it seems not to care whether the value of the name will fetch higher market prices if they're not the ones being paid.

    Also, it's easy for oxfam to throw out the fact that coffee growers make $.03/cup of coffee, and then leave it to the average person to figure that they're getting screwed- after all, a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs 2 bucks, shouldn't the grower get more? It may help to know that Starbucks probably makes about $.11/cup from their coffee. (or at least, 10 years ago when I worked for a smaller coffee company that Starbucks bought, that's what a cup's worth of beans cost wholesale. In other words, in terms of wholesale beans, about 27% of that cost makes it to the grower. It might be a little galling to realize that for the $2 you paid for that cuppa joe, $1.89 of it is for everything but the beans- starbucks is in the milk, service, and franchising business, people.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @02:56AM (#17440912)
    "Starbucks claims that to do so would be illegal"

    The name that were attempting to be trademarked were geographical areas, eg: Sidamo. You can not trademark a name that is primarily geographical in nature. If they were to call it something else starbucks is unlikely to object. Starbucks was likely involved directly because they applied for a trademark on "Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo", which is OK because it is not just "Sidamo", whereby Starbucks is referring to a type of processing as well as the location the coffee comes from.

    I don't see why Starbucks should be critised for pointing out that the application wouldn't be legal.

    If Oxfam don't start pulling their finger out and stop these trolls for media attention, they can expect no more donations from me, there are plenty of other charities that could use my money, and I suspect they wouldn't waste it on tripe such as this.

    from 2 (15 U.S.C. 1052)

    No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it consists of a mark which, when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically descriptive of them.

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