Posted by: rachelyangl | December 2, 2019

Oops, they did it again!

Over thanksgiving break, while almost everyone got to spend the holiday with family and friends, there were a group of emergency dispatchers who sacrificed their time off for those in need. An Oklahoma police officer made a Starbucks run for his colleagues to thank them for working during the holiday but when he got his order, as reported by the New York Times, he saw the word “PIG” printed on a cup’s label. 

As a result, the barista was fired after Starbucks issued an apology and initiated a “Coffee With a Cop” event, for local law enforcement to meet with baristas to discuss the role that dispatchers and officers play in keeping communities safe- a crisis response within the Situational Crisis Communication Theory. After identifying the crisis type and assessing its severity of reputational damage, the global coffee giant apologized and, in an effort, to make the crisis appear less negative to stakeholders, it decided to host a meet and greet to bring the two parties together. This is in line with SCCT’s crisis response strategies options: deny, diminish, and deal (Coombs, 2016). 

Was this the appropriate way to extend an olive branch? Sure, given the repetitiveness (crisis history) of such incidents of its baristas, Starbucks selected a crisis response strategy that best served to protect the organization, accepted greater responsibility and sought to repair legitimacy (Coombs, 2006; Allen and Caillouet, 1994; Benoit, 1995; Sellnow, Ulmer, and Snider, 1998).

Citations: 

Coombs, T. (2006). The protective powers of crisis response strategies: managing reputational assets during a crisis. Journal of Promotion ManagementVol. 12(3/4): 241-260. 

Padilla, M. (2019, November 30). Starbucks barista fired after officer’s cup had ‘pig’ on the label. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/us/starbucks-pig-cup.html


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