Brewing Controversy – How Starbucks Embraces Social Media
Posted by Rant4u
Health Care Reform, Tax Fairness, The War in Afghanistan, Occupy Wall Street, same-sex marriage. These are just a few of the hottest and heated issues that presently divide our nation. While individuals look to their political, religious, cultural, and personal beliefs to take a stance on the matters, many companies stay quiet and impartial – fearful to not outrage consumers. But there’s one major company Track Social has been monitoring that doesn’t seem to shy away from the controversy, and in fact, welcomes it.
From gay marriage to gun rights, Starbucks has staked its image on some very public, and potentially risky, social-political positions. And thanks to social media, consumers can interact with brands in the same ways they interact with people. This raises an important question: how does a multi-national mega-brand, responsible for crafting a consistent image all over the globe, manage to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of hot-button cultural and political issues in the places where it does business?
For most big brands, the answer is simple – refrain from alienating consumers by simply refusing to engage in potentially controversial dialogue.
But as big brands come to play greater and greater roles in shaping culture, the positions they’ve come to occupy as arbiters of tastes, trends and, yes, values, take on larger significance. Both Microsoft and Amazon have also joined forces to support the legalization of gay marriage. The ubiquity of these mega-brands – both online and off – amplifies their perceived cultural authority. And in a society in which the marketplace encroaches further and further into our personal lives and is woven ever more tightly into the national fabric, the brands we use the most start to resemble significant cultural battlegrounds themselves – with boycotts, anti-boycotts and threats of boycotts becoming de rigueur. Read More
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