« I give up! HELP!!! | Main | Learning new phrases all the time »

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gee, I wonder what the heck prompted Starbucks to say all that?

Starbucks recently posted the following series of disclaimers (in English and Arabic) on their website in response to unspecified "violent situations involving our stores... employees and customers":

"Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East                                                  

It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents, and have also led to violent situations involving our stores, partners (employees) and customers.

Our more than 160,000 partners and business associates around the globe have diverse views about a wide range of topics. Regardless of that spectrum of belief, Starbucks Coffee Company remains a non-political organization. We do not support any political or religious cause. Further, allegations that Starbucks provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army in any way are unequivocally false. Unfortunately, these rumors persist despite our best efforts to refute them.

What we do believe in, and remain focused on, is staying true to our company’s long-standing heritage -- simply connecting with our partners and customers over a cup of high quality coffee and offering the best experience possible to them – regardless of geographical location. Though our roots are in the United States, we are a global company with stores in 49 countries, including more than 230 stores in nine Middle Eastern countries. In countries where we do business, we are proud to be a part of the fabric of the local community -- working directly with local partners who operate our stores, employing thousands of local citizens, serving millions of customers and positively impacting many others through our support of neighborhoods and cities.


Is it true that Starbucks provides financial support to Israel?

No. This is absolutely untrue. Rumors that Starbucks Coffee Company provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a publicly held company and as such, is required to disclose any corporate giving each year through a proxy statement. In addition, articles in the London Telegraph (U.K.), New Straits Times (Malaysia), and Spiked (online) provide an outside perspective on these false rumors.

Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?

No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks is teaming with other American corporations to send their last several weeks of profits to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army?

No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks closed its stores in Israel for political reasons?

No. We do not make business decisions based on political issues. We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market. After many months of discussion with our partner we came to this amicable decision. While this was a difficult decision for both companies, we believe it remains the right decision for our businesses.


Do you work with a Middle East partner to operate Starbucks stores?

Through a licensing agreement with trading partner and licensee MH Alshaya WLL, a private Kuwait family business, Starbucks has operated in the Middle East since 1999. Today Alshaya Group, recognized as one of the leading and most influential retailing franchisees in the region, operates more than 274 Starbucks stores in the Middle East and Levant region. In addition to its Starbucks stores, the Alshaya Group operates more than 1,700 other retail stores in the region, providing jobs for more than 15,000 employees of more than 35 nationalities.

We are extremely fortunate and proud to have forged a successful partnership for the past ten years and look forward to building on this success.

In which Middle Eastern countries do you operate?

We partner with Alshaya Group to operate Starbucks stores in Egypt, Kuwait, KSA, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon in the Middle East region. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many communities, and we are committed to providing the Starbucks Experience while respecting the local customs and cultures of each country we are a part of. We are also committed to hiring locally, providing jobs to thousands of local citizens in the countries where we operate.

Are you still operating Starbucks stores in Israel? If not, do you have plans to re-open should the opportunity arise?

We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.

When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community. We will therefore continue to assess all opportunities on this basis. At present, we will continue to grow our business in the Middle East as we have been very gratified by the strong reception of the brand in the region. We continue to work closely with our business partner, the Alshaya Group, in developing our plans for the region."

The questions, answers and disclaimers posted above are from Starbuck's website, but have been advertised in heavy rotation on Google Ads.  apparently they really want to get the word out to head off any further disturbances.  Is anyone out there having any trouble imagining a scenario that would prompt this kind of Public Relations damage control from Starbucks?

Posted by David Bogner on February 16, 2009 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Gee, I wonder what the heck prompted Starbucks to say all that?:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

One need not imagine a scenario that prompted it. If I was not on my blackberry on the metro I'd find the links myself, but someone else will have to do the legwork.
With regard to email chainletters advocating boycott, Starbucks was hilariously attacked from both camps. It was simultaneously anti-Israel for leaving that market (the letters I've been sent always tell me this is because Starbucks HATES the JOOS) and for apparently, during Cast Lead we are to believe they we're sending entire weeks full of profits directly to the IDF.
The "Starbucks loves Israel" thing went so far in the "anarchist" (ha!) community in the UK that they firebombed a few.
Of course anyone raised in the US understands that corporations are giant, rapacious organizations with no souls or core beliefs except to make as much $ as possible for their shareholders so it's all rather silly.

Posted by: Tovitim | Feb 16, 2009 4:02:51 PM

Don't read too much into this one; it's several years old.

The internet is full of floating nonsense, and it's all companies can do to correct the lies that people invent that get passed around virally. Starbucks will always be defending itself against rumors that it refused to give free coffee to firefighters at Ground Zero, and Neiman Marcus will always be defending itself that it tried to charge $250 for a cookie recipe.

It's just one of those things that got picked up virally, they get bombarded with queries every once in a while when it picks up again, so they have to disclaim it on their site.

Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Feb 16, 2009 5:28:45 PM

It doesn't help that Starbucks founder and CEO is Howard Schultz (yes, MOT) thereby putting a public Jewish face on the company. Of course, he's done enough locally to be loved and/or hated by pretty much everyone around him...

Frankly, one of the things I'm looking forward to post-Aliyah is not seeing a Starbucks on every other corner!

Posted by: Jesse | Feb 16, 2009 6:11:48 PM

Heh, time to give Starbucks a miss. Ah, they already faltered in Israel? Good riddance.

Posted by: ddave | Feb 16, 2009 6:31:09 PM

All I know is that they make TERRIBLE coffee. Want decent coffee, come to NZ. We have the best roasters, the best water and the best milk on the planet!

Posted by: Noa | Feb 16, 2009 7:56:17 PM

You want to read about Starbucks, track down Jackie Mason's take on them. Funniest thing you'll ever read. I can buy a can of Maxwell House on sale for $1.99. It lasts me about 3 weeks. Why would I pay $1.75 for one cup of burnt coffee? Let the arabs have it.

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood | Feb 16, 2009 9:39:56 PM

People have entertained lynch mob behavior since the beginning of time. There's a number of things I really don't like at all about Starbucks, but the lies about their "super secret Zionist agenda", store bashings, and boycott efforts were founded on pure stupidity and mob mentality. And when I actually did something as unthinkable as defend Starbucks by calling on some of these store looters to be accountable for the rumors they believed, I was personally attacked.

I honestly feel for Starbucks in this case, because they were legitimately victimized on this count. Which is a strange scenario for me, because 95% of the time I'd like to see Starbucks vanish from the earth.

Posted by: swag | Feb 16, 2009 10:40:19 PM

Starbucks missed the boat in Israel... Oops, it was the other way around. Shorty after they closed, there was a coffee shop explosion! Now, it seems that every other coffee chain is here!

In Teaneck, there is this AMAZING coffee shop (don't remember the name) that makes super-fancy coffee drinks that are sooooooo sinfully delicious!! I keep waiting for that one to open here! That is one coffee shop I would haunt!!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Feb 17, 2009 8:30:17 AM

the lazy bean?

according to legend, the starbucks that was in my little corner of the country was the only one that was doing well -- my guess is the number of americans who live here. it wasn't worth it to keep only one store open so that one was closed as well. i think most people went there for the novelty of it and the comfort of a familiar name. but since so many other good places have quickly filled the void, i don't know of too many people who miss the big chain.

Posted by: nikki | Feb 17, 2009 10:09:34 AM

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, or you didn't hear about the London Starbuck's "incident" (I suspect it's the first), but here's a link to the story with photos http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1111203/Cities-world-platform-hundreds-thousands-protesters-Gaza-fighting.html The Starbucks photos are about halfway down the page.

Posted by: Tehillah | Feb 17, 2009 2:33:23 PM

They apparently never heard about that truth about pee and coffee. ;)

...but this probably isn't why we here call American coffee "pish".

.... nah. Poo just happens. ;)

Posted by: a. | Feb 17, 2009 3:16:10 PM


>>Starbucks will always be defending itself against rumors that it refused to give free coffee to firefighters at Ground Zero,<<

In fact, Starbucks did mess up on that, bug time. They charged one responder $130 for 3 cases of bottled water for victims of the disaster. see http://www.snopes.com/rumors/starbucks.asp

Posted by: Observer | Feb 21, 2009 12:02:39 AM

Post a comment