Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

Starbucks Coffee Company: Reading Between the Lines

Coffee customers

Should receive the truth with no


Starbucks Coffee

(Image Source)

For Paper 2, I have decided to do a case study on Starbucks Coffee Company, analyzing how the company markets itself and carries through with its business practices. I will use an article I found titled For the Love of Joe: The Language of Starbucks, written by Constance M. Ruzich.

After researching Starbucks a little bit more in-depth, it seems to be a pretty controversial company in terms of living up to certain ethical ideals. The article explains how Starbucks uses language to appeal to its customers in certain ways; however, customers don’t know how true this language actually is. Many of it actually seems to be exaggerations. More specifically, the article states:

“…scant attention has been paid to Starbuck’s skillful use of language as part of the game of seduction” (Ruzich 5).

The article analyzes the language Starbucks uses in advertising, and conveys to the reader that the company may not be as empathetic and philanthropic as customers perceive it to be. Customers must read between the lines of sweet and cozy language.

For example, the author reveals that Starbucks does not donate very much money and it does not regularly brew or offer Fair Trade coffee in its stores, which is an element of Starbuck’s business model that it seems to emphasize in its marketing campaigns (as shown in the image below). It goes on to mention how Starbucks is now a leading company in the industry, so individuals’ perspectives of the business are changing, and people are becoming more critical of how socially responsible Starbucks truly is and how it spends its money.

Starbucks Marketing

(Image Source)

Additionally, I think the article has a very effective concluding sentence that conveys to readers its overall argument:

“Consumers who patronize the chain should examine the in-store language for what it is—an advertising campaign, which to be successful must have an element of truth, but which, like all advertising, should be scrutinized and recognized as a high-stakes effort to manipulate, persuade, and sell” (Ruzich 13).

In establishing a case about Starbucks, I will evaluate the company’s ethics from a deontological perspective, explaining how the company does adequately live up to its moral obligations to customers. Topics may include philanthropic donations, its commitment to Fair Trade, and its marketing techniques. It will give a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective on the company–beyond what the typical, day-to-day customer experiences. In addition to this scholarly article, I have also found a couple of books that will also assist me in doing this.

(Featured Image Source)

8 thoughts on “Starbucks Coffee Company: Reading Between the Lines

  1. I find that Starbucks, amongst other companies employ strategic marketing campaigns that champion their philanthropic deeds as a strategic mechanism to lure in socially conscious customers. These customers who are willing to pay $4 on a coffee use their purchasing power to support a company that values ethical business practices.

  2. I found in reading this that I was a delusion customer who thought I was paying more so the company could give back. Fluffy language is something all companies use to entice customers we should really know what we are buying into. Personally I wouldn’t be opposed to a limit on companies advertising budgets as a percentage of sales and in relation to what they must “give back.” I know that seems like a lot of control of companies but if everyone did it we could make great changes.

  3. I think charity falls outside of any minimal duty like Donaldson describes.

    Manipulation seems like a key idea. Can Starbucks be ethical from a deontological perspective without manipulating? What is a precise definition of manipulation.

    I wonder if SB has direclty refuted any of Ruzich’s claims…. worth checking…

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