Prepare to be swept up in a digital storm of lively discussion when Starbucks launches its latest ad, grabbing attention and provoking a chorus of intense praise and criticism on social media.
The coffee titan finds himself in the eye of a tumultuous controversy when various voices collide head-on, debating the bold nature of his message.
The coffee giant found itself in the midst of controversy following the release of an ad on May 10 focused on inclusion and transgender rights.
The ad, intended to promote a message of acceptance, faced significant backlash on social media platforms, with numerous people expressing anger and claiming their sentiments were offensive. The #BoycottStarbucks hashtag quickly gained traction on Twitter and became a trending topic.
In the ad, a transgender woman reunites with her long-lost father in a vibrant and bustling Starbucks establishment.
A woman named Arpit, now identifying herself as Arpita, shares a close bond with her mother, who joins her at a Starbucks outlet. However, her father is still struggling to accept her new identity. The ad opens with parents anxiously waiting at Starbucks.
The father, visibly restless, dials Arpita’s number, still saved as “Arpit”. Finally, Arpita walks in and warmly hugs her parents. Then her father goes to the cafeteria counter to order her coffee.
Arpita is pleasantly surprised when the Starbucks barista announces, “Three cold brews for Arpita.”
This touching moment reveals his father’s acceptance of choosing “Arpita” as the name to be written on the coffee cup, aligning with cherished Starbucks tradition.
“Beta, you’re still my daughter. There’s only one letter added to your name,” the father tells her. Starbucks India echoes a message of acceptance and love, tweeting: “Your name defines who you are, whether it’s Arpit or Arpita. At Starbucks, we love and accept you for who you are. Because being yourself is everything to us.” “, accompanied by the hashtag #ItStartsWithYourName.
Watch the ad here:
The announcement generated various reactions on the internet.
Your name defines who you are, be it Arpit or Arpita. At Starbucks, we love and accept you for who you are. Because being yourself is everything to us. #StartWithYourName. 💚 pic.twitter.com/DKNGhKZ1Hg
— Starbucks India (@StarbucksIndia) May 10, 2023
Communications strategy consultant Karthik Srinivasan tweeted: “To see something inclusive and non-judgmental in these days of polarized communications and gun hate…it’s really welcome.”
The replies to this tweet really represent the rottenness of Indian society. Anything, even with a minimum of love, is hated. https://t.co/QmbnnqF41P
— Pooja 🌈 (@Pooja_Chaudhuri) May 11, 2023
Have you ever wondered why trans-themed ads always show Arpit turning into Arpita and never or very rarely showing Arpita turning into Arpit? Guess what? https://t.co/aGINJ157D1
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) May 12, 2023
Twitter user Sanjeev Verma posted, “Initiatives like this will help eliminate transphobia from our prejudiced world. Bravo.”
Yet another segment of the internet pointed to Starbucks for the announcement.
Starbucks cannot protect its own transgender employees from blatant discrimination, instead choosing to fire them. Repeated incidents showing that it is not a safe working environment for them. Such advertisements are produced from time to time to whiten your image. https://t.co/xgQzAZlBdL pic.twitter.com/UDrlbQ0jwB
— Kushal (@kushfehmi) May 11, 2023
Indian-American writer Sadanand Dhume called it “a heavy dose of extreme American gender ideology”. Another user tweeted: “Starbucks wakes up India with trans campaign.”
What’s wrong with you @starbucksindia ? Focus on your core business and stay away from all this unnecessary mindless nonsense that you are trying to push here in India. Zabardasti udta teer lene ka shauk ho gaya hai, then be prepared for pain. #GoWokeGoBroke. https://t.co/VSjJzVDKBO
-bithika (@bithika11) May 11, 2023
It’s worth noting that Starbucks isn’t the first brand in India to face backlash over an ad. In 2020, famed jewelry brand Tanishq found itself with a significant social media following for an ad featuring an interfaith baby shower, leading to its removal.
In 2021, ethnic clothing brand FabIndia faced boycott calls from a social media section for its “Jashn-E-Riwaaz” festive collection.
As India’s Supreme Court continues its deliberation on petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the central government has revealed that three states have voiced their opposition to the proposed measure.
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