Anti-gun violence group takes on Starbucks

CHICAGO: A boycott of Starbucks locations launched by a gun violence victims' advocacy group is garnering national media attention.

CHICAGO: A boycott of Starbucks locations launched by a gun violence victims' advocacy group is garnering national media attention.

The National Gun Victims Action Council wants Starbucks to ban customers from openly carrying firearms in its stores. The company allows guns in its coffee shops in states where it is legal to carry a weapon in public places.

The group said Starbucks should follow the lead of other chains, like California Pizza Kitchen, which ban guns in its businesses regardless of state laws. The boycott began February 14.

“Our goal is not to hurt to Starbucks. Our goal is for Starbucks to ban guns and to join our side to fight for sane gun laws,” said Elliot Fineman, CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council.

If Starbucks doesn't meet the group's demands, the organization said it will spread its campaign to the company's licensing partners, such as Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom, and United Airlines. The council is mostly promoting the boycott through grassroots communications, and it has teamed with faith-based groups and other anti-gun organizations to spread awareness about the campaign by word of mouth.

The group is also using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and distributing press releases to increase earned media results. The boycott has gained coverage in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and on CNBC.

The organization is developing a media outreach plan consisting of pitching key publications, reporters, and blogs, Fineman said. All efforts are being developed in-house.

A Starbucks press representative said the coffee chain is trying to “comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve,” adding that the boycott has yet to have any significant impact on business. “Despite recent attempts from advocacy groups to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions, our business has never been stronger.”

Starbucks' AOR Edelman is providing media relations assistance on the boycott issue.

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