Starbucks figures out how to get the most bad publicity for the buck

starbuckYesterday Jim Romenesko was rejected by America’s favorite drug dealer in his attempt to get a Customized Starbucks Card plugging one of his blogs. The card would have said: Check out It was nixed because it didn’t conform to the company’s personalization policy, doubtless enforced by a computer program or someone at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

Two things you need to know about the site and Romenesko:

  1. The site is pretty damn neutral. StarbucksNews would be a better description. It reports on the latest food items and the latest attitudes from the coffee servers. Romenesko, by all appearances, likes Starbucks. He seems to be at one nearly everyday. (This is what happens when you work by yourself. My local dealer is CafeNation.)
  2. He is also proprietor of the MediaNews site at This site, devoted to news about journalism, is the media’s online watering hole. Everyone reads it. As with any industry-specific news site, it is probably incredibly dull if you aren’t in said industry. (Romenesko’s pay for this site is said to be in the six-figures. It is money well spent.)

It’s not like Romenesko is Someone Not To Be Messed With. He’s just someone who gets a lot of influential readers. He’s more like Someone I Hope I Didn’t Inadvertently Do Something Stupid To. No doubt some of those MediaNews readers wander over to the Starbucks site. No doubt some of them will love a story about big company being dumb.

In case they didn’t think this was a story, the MediaNews types can also read responses from people defending the company’s action.

The policy is reasonable. Don’t take it so personally. Starbucks is trying to protect their brand and that means not allowing any website (whether it’s, or to use this service to create advertising materials that look as if they were sanctioned and endorsed by Starbucks.

Which would be a feasible defense if a site called CelebrityStarbucks hadn’t got one of the damn cards with its name on it. Personalization, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

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One thought on “Starbucks figures out how to get the most bad publicity for the buck

  1. Pingback: You read it here first: Starbucks gets bad press for denying Romenesko a custom card « Collateral Damage

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