Politics and personal preferences aside, it seems as if Starbucks gets it. A recent Slashdot post talks about Starbucks’ response to an Oxfam allegation of unfair trade practices with the corporation’s coffee growers in Ethiopia. It seems that Oxfam posted a video to YouTube which spoke about their “day of action.” In essence this video attests that Ethiopian farmers receive only 3 cents per cup of coffee sold by Starbucks and that Starbucks is not paying a fair price for the coffee beans. Starbucks response was not to launch an ad campaign in USA Today or go on TV, no, instead they created their own video and posted that on YouTube as well. The video spoke to their negotiation efforts with the Ethiopian government and some of the additional things that the corporation does to serve the locales in which their products are grown.
I can’t speak to the veracity of the claims of either side but that isn’t really the point. The point is that a large corporation has recognized and then utilized a powerful social tool to convey their message and in doing so serve to further legitimize this communications medium. The power of the read/write web is enormous and holds the potential for incredible good or incredible evil. Makes it almost sound human, doesn’t it?
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