Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Another viral video alleges racial bias at Starbucks. Plus, 'Teflon Sean' Hannity
Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: For one afternoon next month, Starbucks is closing 8,000 U.S. stores to train staff on how to prevent racial discrimination. As Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl writes, the education session on May 29 “will be given to nearly 175,000 employees and become part of the company’s process for new employees.” The step comes after a viral video showed two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks being arrested; an employee had called police after the men hung out without buying anything (which, of course, is fairly standard practice when you’re waiting to meet someone.)
Now there’s another Starbucks video getting attention, as The Washington Post reports. Shot in Torrance, Calif., in January, it shows a black man claiming he was denied entrance to the restroom while a white customer was given the bathroom code. Neither of them had ordered anything yet. The video was shared on Twitter by activist Shaun King, where it had 2 million views. (King’s message that read, in part, “Dear @Starbucks, what we are seeing is that your stores have a problem with systemic racism and discrimination.”) A Starbucks spokeswoman told The Post that the company takes the California incident “and the commentary surrounding it” seriously.
The arrests in Philadelphia have already dealt a big blow to the company’s progressive image, which is why Starbucks is taking the dramatic step of closing so many stores for an afternoon of training. Bloomberg News estimates that the closure could cost around $16.7 million in lost sales.
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