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Controversy over Woman Discrimination Triggers Boycott of Starbucks
Criticisms on Starbucks
Controversy over Woman Discrimination Triggers Boycott of Starbucks
  • By Choi Mun-hee
  • April 25, 2017, 06:15
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A Starbucks campaign poster (a screen capture of the Starbucks website)
A Starbucks campaign poster (a screen capture of the Starbucks website)

 

A firestorm of protest has been sparked off as Starbucks Korea's manner campaign depicts all finicky customers as females. The start of the controversy is Starbucks Coffee Korea's three-part "Creating Starbucks Where Both Customers and Crew Members Happy" campaign which has been held since January. Its content calls for an improvement in a consumer culture by portraying examples of picky and rude customers in a one-page illustration.

The first campaign focuses on "using seats considering others" and describes a young woman who occupies two tables by herself. Because of the woman, other customers who cannot take seats stand in a fidgety manner with their drinks in their hands. The third campaign is critical of taking companion animals inside Starbucks stores. That is to say, inside store, a customer brings in a puppy, making the staff and other customers uncomfortable. In the third campaign illustration, the customer is a woman. On the other hand, a man is the protagonist of the second campaign, 'Do not forget your receipt with personal information after payment' which is devoid of a picky customer.

Many Korean online communities were peppered with a flurry of critical comments such as "Do they have to use women only as the characters?" and "Starbucks Korea regards female customers as fussy customers who impede their business." Signs of boycotting also appeared. "I had a good image of Starbucks that strives to create jobs for women and a gender equality culture when I used Starbucks," said a company worker surnamed Lee. "I was shocked to see the use of female hatred expressions in the company’s official campaign. If there is no action for an improvement, I will boycott Starbucks." It is said that women in their 20s and 30s accounted for more than 60% of total Starbucks sales in Korea.

Starbucks acknowledged these criticisms but has not made any official response to them but said that they did not use female characters on purpose.