Starbucks helped create new jobs in a struggling Ohio town when it ordered 20,000 mugs from American Mug and Stein, one of East Liverpool's few remaining pottery factories.
The factory has come close to going out of business many times, said owner Clyde McClellan, but the Starbucks order allowed it to double its workforce.
“There are hundreds of East Liverpools around the country today,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told NPR. “These towns have been left for dead. And even though it's more expensive to manufacture this mug in the US than it would be in China, Korea, or Mexico, this is what we need to do.”
The mug contract is part of Starbucks' ongoing “Create Jobs for the USA” initiative. Launched in October 2011, the scheme aims to encourage consumers and business leaders to support job creation in the US.
Starbucks kicked off the effort by partnering with Opportunity Finance Network to create a small-business loan fund through the sale of red, white, and blue wristbands in its stores. Like the new mugs, the wristbands were made in the US, a fact the company emphasized in a blog post.
Starbucks has worked to build a reputation as a company that does good, rather than just selling good coffee. And other companies are trying to follow suit. According to one agency exec, consumers' increasing desire to know the company behind the brand is causing corporate and consumer practices to converge, and more companies are building a “one enterprise brand voice.”
This trend should come as no surprise to regular PRWeek readers, who know corporate reputation often hinges on the way a company does business and treats its employees. For brands that have caught on to this, it's time to join Starbucks' chorus and share those stories with consumers.