CategoryB03. Corporate Reputation
EntrantEDELMAN Shanghai, CHINA
Entrant Company:EDELMAN Shanghai, CHINA
PR/Advertising Agency:EDELMAN Shanghai, CHINA


Name Company Position
Derek Ng Edelman Director/ Regional Client Relationship Manager - Starbucks
Tony Tao Edelman Managing Director - Shanghai
Tan Kok Kuan Edelman Associate Director - Shanghai
Chris Wang Edelman Senior Manager - Shanghai
Windy Dong Edelman Senior Executive - Shanghai

The Campaign

Being a force for positive action in the communities in which it operates has always been part of the “soul” of Starbucks - the importance of building a great, enduring company that strikes a balance between profitability and social conscience. With its ambitious plans to build China as its second home market outside the United States, Starbucks is determined to support thriving neighborhoods and community activities across the country. As part of its 40th anniversary global celebrations in April 2011, Starbucks chose to highlight its commitment to community action by organizing a global month of service, inviting partners (employees) and customers, to come together to make an impact in the neighborhoods where they live and work. Its goal was to encourage more than 1,400 community projects around the world. The campaign culminated in a community service event that was hailed by the Shanghai Municipal Government as an unprecedented case study of a large scale volunteer community outreach program by a corporation in China. It also achieved real changes in attitudes and behavioral intentions, with 9 out of 10 participants pledging to change their lifestyle habits to become more environmentally-friendly.

The Brief

Expectations of brands have changed, with 75% of respondents to the firm’s proprietary research believing it is no longer enough for corporations to simply give money away, instead, they want to work alongside brands to take action to effect positive social change. The objectives of the campaign: 1) Connect customers and partners to Starbucks mission and values 2) Inspire a change-maker spirit and commitment to community service among partners and customers 3) Engage and strengthen relationships with partners, customers and the broader community 4) Establish Starbucks as the leading corporate advocate in driving positive change in the community in China


The campaign was recognized as an unprecedented case study for large scale volunteer community service programs by other corporations in Shanghai as well as the Shanghai Municipal Government, which identified the Gumei community as a model unit for its partnership with Starbucks. AmCham invited Starbucks to share its best practice and used Starbucks as a model to launch its “Make a Difference Volunteer Alliance”. The campaign resulted in the direct involvement of 2,341 Starbucks partners and community volunteers in China, who collectively contributed 6,317 volunteer hours towards Starbucks Shared Planet™ goal of one million hours of community service per year by 2015. 93.6% of partners who participated in the campaign pledged to change their lifestyle habits by becoming more environmentally friendly Over 82.7 million media impressions were generated from the campaign. Significant online interest and chatter were sparked by Starbucks posts and tweets on the initiative.


Throughout April 2011, Starbucks partners and customers rolled up their sleeves to participate in community service projects across 20 Chinese cities. They worked on a wide range of environmental-related projects in residential areas and organized activities to educate residents and students how to lead a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Starbucks partners also offered residents simple water saving tips, such as placing Starbucks reused plastic cup in the water tank to reduce amount of water released during flushing. This month-long culminated in a large scale community service event where more than 750 Starbucks partners and local volunteers descended on Gumei Community, Minhang District, Shanghai, to beautify the neighborhood in just one afternoon, demonstrating the power of collective action. The media were invited to witness and participate in select activities and were provided with engagement opportunities with volunteers and beneficiaries. Starbucks leveraged its online digital properties to share the event pictures and experiences.

The Situation

According to the firm’s proprietary research, 75% of respondents in China give time or volunteer for a good cause at least once every 12 months and 78% want brands to make it easier for them to make a positive difference in the world. The research was supported by Starbucks internal research, noting that 80% of Starbucks partners globally expressed an interest in participating in volunteer activities in their communities. This clearly provided a huge opportunity for Starbucks to meet its stakeholders’ growing expectations of brands, and provide opportunities for people to be directly involved in driving positive change.

The Strategy

The firm worked with Starbucks to identify and champion a cause that was aligned to both the needs of the community and Starbucks core values: creating ‘greener’ neighborhoods and better places to live for people in China’s increasingly urbanized and densely populated cities. All activities during the month-long campaign focused on helping partners, customers and other key stakeholders collaborate in making meaningful progress towards achieving this overarching goal. The campaign was built on three pillars: • Locally relevant programs were created to enable volunteers to actively participate in community activities • Partnerships were established with Charyou (a Shanghai-based NGO) and local government organizations to leverage their respective strengths in designing creative volunteer activities and mobilizing local communities • Social and traditional media were used to engage Starbucks fans in the campaign, amplify awareness of the cause, and celebrate the best examples of community action