This summary is provided by IPR based on the original journal article in Public Relations Inquiry

Dr. Nneka Logan analyzed the Starbucks Race Together campaign as well as reactions to it through the lens of critical race theory. A series of race-related protests in the United States in 2014 inspired the Starbucks Race Together initiative, a campaign aimed at fostering national dialogue on race to facilitate positive social change.

Dr. Logan conducted a case study including a brief profile of the Starbucks Corporation, a discussion of the catalysts for the Race Together initiative, and a description of the campaign materials. Reactions to the campaign in the news media and on Twitter were also summarized to highlight common themes of support and criticism.

Key findings include:

·      By placing race at the center of a high-profile public relations campaign, Starbucks adhered to an important pillar of critical race theory by legitimizing the idea that race, racism, and racial inequality continue to be problems in the United States worthy of attention.
·      The educational Race Together campaign materials reflect awareness that dominant groups may have trouble recognizing the discriminatory role race plays in society.
·      Starbucks’ commitment to amplifying the voices of racial minorities was in line with critical race theory.
·      Although the campaign adhered to the major components of critical race theory, it had several problems including:
o    Alack of racial minorities on the Starbucks leadership team
o   The prominent voice of Starbucks’ white, male CEO, Howard Schultz
o   The logistics of conversations on race between baristas and customers

Read more to learn about the Starbucks Race Together campaign through the lens of critical race theory.


Logan, N. (2016). The Starbucks Race Together Initiative: Analyzing a public relations campaign with critical race theory. Public Relations Inquiry, 5(1), 93-113. doi:10.1177/2046147×15626969

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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