Skip to main content

What I Learned When I Bought a Starbuck Indivisible Wristband

Since November 1, 2011 Starbucks has been doing its best to help boost the economy via a cause marketing standard; the wristband.

'Indivisible' wristbands are $5 at 6,800 company-operated stores in the United States.

All the money goes to the Opportunity Finance Network, an umbrella group of 180 Community Development Financial Institutions, which specialize in making loans to small businesses. Starbucks seeded the effort with a $5 million donation.

Studies suggest that new businesses in particular are the ones most likely to generate jobs.

(Parenthetically, another company that started small and grew big, the Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams beer, has offered a small business mentorship and financing effort called Brewing the American Dream since June 2008).

Since all this has been well-covered elsewhere in great depth, I want to describe the exemplary way the transaction took place when I bought mine late 2011 at a nearby Starbucks.

The wristbands at my Starbucks were displayed on a shelf below the cash register. The barrista was super friendly. She took my order and I told her that I wanted to buy the bracelet.

“Oh, that’s so great! This is such a great idea,” she said as she reached for the wristband.

“Do you know what it’s all about?," she asked.

I did, but I let her go on.

“We’re working to help the economy recover and put people back to work.” And with that she reached and grabbed for the explanatory brochure at the left.

I didn’t open it then. But inside the brochure is an infographic worthy of an Al Gore presentation.

I handed her my credit card and she said, “Thanks for doing this.”

She was so unrelentingly cheerful and good-humored that I really felt thanked.

Plainly she had been trained well enough to understand and explain the effort as well as get behind it. It won’t be that way with every barrista at every Starbucks. But it was with this Starbucks and this barrista.

And that, my friends, is how a cause marketed paper icon or a premium items like a stuffed animal or even a wristband ought to be sold.


Michael Liebowitz said…
Thanks for writing about this. I ran out to my local Starbucks (being in NYC, there were plenty of choices) and bought a bracelet. While I didn't have the experience you described, I was impressed by the explanatory material available. But I was wondering what Starbucks is doing to promote this. Perhaps in-store signage is enough, considering the amount of traffic Starbucks gets. However, I'm not a regular Starbucks drinker. The only way I knew about this program was through various Cause Marketing websites. Do you think they should being doing more to get the word out there?

Also, I was wondering if you knew how the program was going since it launched.
Thanks for your comments Michael.

So far as I know, they've only activated this via PR, and in-store. I haven't seen any tally of how the campaign is doing overall.

Like you, I think they'd be well served by some advertising.

But I did see an TV ad from Samuel Adams for their effort on behalf of small businesses.

Thanks, again!
Nice article!
As a regular Starbucks customer, I heard about the wristband through an email promotion. I headed to the nearest store on the date the bracelets went on sale and experienced a similar enthusiastic response from the barista. It would be nice if the company posted updates at the stores - especially near the bracelet display. Even something as simple as "$X million raised so far - That's aroudn XXX new jobs!" would be informative and keep up the momentum.
Hi Christine:

I agree wholeheartedly.

One thing I didn't raise in my post is that Starbucks is limiting in-store donations to $299.99.

I find that disappointing and a little perplexing. Why limit it by anything except time?

What do you think?

Thanks for your comments.

Warm regards,

Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Cell Phone Fundraising

There you are walking down Lake Shore Drive past the rising Chicago Spire building eating a Chicago Red Hot, when you’re struck by a billboard with a message from, say, MercyCorps, asking for help providing relief to the cyclone-battered people in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta. But the sign doesn’t feature a website URL, a toll-free telephone number or even an address to send a check. Instead the sign tells you to text the word ‘Give’ to a number using your cell phone and a $5 donation will be made.

To the Japanese or Europeans that scenario probably sounds not so much futuristic as so 2006.

But it’s new in the United States, made possible by lower fees from the cell phone carriers. If analysts are correct, cell phone fundraising may be a prominent future fundraising channel for charities with a clear mission, strong brand recognition and the ability to effectively get their message to their audience.

What’s the potential upside of this mobile phone fundraising in the United States?

“$100 mil…