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Starbucks won the LGBT+ Channel 4 Diversity Award 2019 with "Every name’s a story". This is the extended Version running at 2:19. It tells the story of a rather brooding young Jemma Miller, who clearly hates every time they have to use or hear the name "Jemma".
This is shown to us in various ways, Jemma gets phoned up, Jemma gets called to the appointment, Jemma looks at a card with the name Jemma. Jemma's dad introduces "my Jemma". It's a story well told in this way, and I really sympathize, you can see so clearly how annoying this gets. I will not argue this isn't a win in the craft category, though I will say sad piano music is really overdone.
Finally, Jemma gets some respite. It's at Starbucks. Because at Starbucks they don't call the name Jemma, they call for James.
Oh please.Has anyone in the world gotten their name called out correctly at Starbucks? They make it an international sport to butcher even the most common of names. It's a Saturday Night Live joke at this point, as seen in "the Verisismo commercial". Verismo could give you the full Starbucks experience, complete with name-butchering. I pick whatever generic name that comes to mind like "Charlie" when I'm at Starbucks, and they still manage to butcher it. This is showing a selling point we all know isn't real.
Now, this campaign isn't a standalone ad. Aiming to raise $130,000 for the controversial charity Mermaids, the company explains: “We’re proud to partner with the UK charity Mermaids with a limited-edition Mermaids Cookie. With every cookie sold, 50p will go to the charity to support their helpline, providing support for transgender and gender diverse young people and their families. Starbucks #whatsyourname campaign celebrates this signature act and the significance I can have for some transgender and gender diverse people as they use their new name in public.”
Starbucks explains their strategy came from an insight: “We were moved to discover that individuals find our stores a safe space to try out their new names when transitioning.” As I said, Starbucks never gets my real name right, so I use Charlie, and nobody questions it because minimum wage workers just want to get on with it. I could probably get away with "Bob" if I wanted to because as espresso-jockeys they just want to make sure they get the order right. I don't doubt for a second that people "try out" new names in Starbucks, but it's also quite a tenuous stretch to make an entire campaign about it when this habit may very well have begun because nobody at Starbucks ever gets anyone's names right. Even "Cairo", who is one of the featured people in the campaign admits that Starbucks didn't get the name right the first time. I suspect what was really driving Starbucks here was the prize money of free Channel 4 airtime, as well as earned media for making a nice short film. The testimonials for Otto, Eliza and Nicole aren't the same level of craft at all, instead just pretty standard portraits.
Ad agency: Iris
Creative team: Eli Vasiliou, Richard Peretti, Giulia Frassine, Anny Heyden, Matt Gray
Director: Nicolas Jack Davies
Production company: Sweetshop