Starbucks' #SpreadTheCheer Spreads Ire Instead

December 18, 2012
In the past, a number of companies create a hashtag with the intent to drive more customers as well as boost their sales and reputation but get entirely negative results. The same failed Twitter campaign happened to Starbucks (@Starbucks) ?recently when it created the hashtag #SpreadTheCheer in anticipation of the holiday season. The famous coffee shop franchise started by asking online users to tweet their ideas and joyful experiences during the Christmas season, but realized later that most of the conversations dealt with the company?s labor rules and low tax rates in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of netizens immediately joined and criticized other areas of the company?s operations, with some including profanity in their tweets.

Why The Anger?

One of the major issues of the backfire was that Starbucks was sponsoring an ice rink at the Natural History museum in London. There was a giant screen where skaters and museum visitors can easily read the criticisms and profanities tweeted. A spokesperson for the company immediately apologized to all the people at the ice rink who read the inappropriate messages. The spokesperson indicated that the filtering system was not working properly, which allowed the wrongful messages to proceed and be displayed in large bold letters. A lot of people were very concerned after Starbucks was discovered to have paid a meager 8.6 million pounds in corporate taxes since 1998, considering how well the business is doing and the fact that there are 700 stores all over the United Kingdom. In the beginning, Starbucks was adamant, but later on agreed to pay more taxes than what was required by law in the United Kingdom in the following two years. The other major issue concerning labor standards was also attacked by online users in criticism of how the franchise allegedly treats its staff. Starbucks reportedly intends to reduce maternity benefits, paid lunch breaks and sick leaves, thus leading to a public outcry. Here's the activity on #SpreadTheCheer at its peak.

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