Scuttling Starbucks in Israel

There was a small but intense, brief  but effective campaign in the year 2000 in the United States to pressure Starbucks to not open any outlets in Israel.

This was during the second Intifada, and, as now, there were many disturbing images coming out of Gaza and the West Bank.

Activists basically plastered the windows of dozens of Starbucks locations in several cities with these pictures.  They included the Starbucks logo and a small slogan on each picture.  The images were  printed on each side of the paper, so it would be visible on both sides of the  window.  The adhesive they used made it impossible to completely remove the papers without hiring a maintenance company to chemically clean the glass, and some locations actually just replaced the windows.

This action was repeated over the course of a matter of days, increasing the number of outlets targeted, and activists also filled the keyholes of the entrances and exits with superglue.

These actions were very small and inexpensive, but the effect was significant.  Customers stayed away, opening of the shops was delayed, the costs of undoing the damage to the windows and doors, both in terms of direct expense, and in terms of loss of business due to inconvenience to customers, all added up to a persuasive impact. Furthermore, Starbucks had to consider the possibility of this campaign extending to more and more of their outlets, and the potential cost of increasing security to ensure that the same actions could not continue to be repeated day after day.

Everything that makes them Starbucks was used to their disadvantage: the ambiance of the cafes was spoiled, the efficiency of service was disrupted, the customer loyalty was used to reliably get the message to more people, and their vast number of locations made it possible to inflict loss on them from any number of points.  All of these factors were used to pressure them

Ultimately, Starbucks cancelled the plan to open in Israel, claiming it was due to a contractual dispute with the local franchiser.  And they have never opened an outlet in Israel until now.


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