Starbucks Keeps The Humor Going Amid Criticisms

Starbucks, known best for their steaming latte’s and pricy frappuccinos, can also serve up a bit of humour in the face of criticism. Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway had a few choice words for Starbucks, as part of her last column at the Financial Times before her retirement. Lucy referenced Starbucks’ executive chairman Henry Schultz, whom she referred to as “a champion in the bullshit space… [who has] provided me with more material for columns than any other executive alive or dead.” Ouch, not necessarily a flattering characterization.

But alas, Kellaway wasn’t done.

To qualify her ire, she cited a recent announcement made by Schultz, in which he describes Starbucks Roasteries as “delivering an immersive, ultra-premium, coffee-forward experience”. Admittedly a bit of a mouthful, but also a description that Kellaway profusely decries, stating that “In this ultra-premium, jargon-forward twaddle, the only acceptable word is ‘an’.”

Clearly, Kellaway isn’t a fan of Starbucks’ excessive wording/jargon. In fact, Kellaway has spent much of her career calling out companies for using excessive jargon in their advertising and descriptions. Starbucks of course was quick to defend themselves and address the concern, and they weren’t afraid to be a little cheeky in their response. Simon Redfern, a Starbucks representative, wrote the Financial Times editor a letter stating.

The challenge is — we just don’t see the issue. Ms Kellaway says “tomato” and we say “sun-dried optimised natural product driving positive consumer sentiment if served on organic rye.” Ms Kellaway says “potato” and we say “waxy-skinned tuber with a satisfying mouthfeel when fried or boiled.” Surely there is no difference.

In the end, it seems like Starbucks has no intentions of simplifying their wording anytime soon. For both parties involved, this seems to have escalated into nothing more than a brief battle of semantics. The most important party, Starbucks’ customers, don’t seem to mind a little excessive jargon for the most part. After all, coffee, by any name or description, is still delicious.