02.17.17. | When trust is in crisis, people matter.
Because I’m studying advertising, I like to think I know all the tricks in the book. I can pick a 30 second TV spot to pieces. I love to comment on copywriting, critique efforts at social impact, and discuss potential strategies with my friends. But sometimes I forget to do all these things. Sometimes, against my better judgement, I am moved.
When Starbucks SVP of Communications (and gracious SOJC alum) Corey duBrowa showed this spot to our class on Friday, I knew where it was going. I had heard similar “togetherness” messages from companies before. Yet by the time the last frame flashed across the screen, I had goosebumps.
“Because that’s your name right next to ours.”
Perhaps I was moved by the way Starbucks flawlessly integrated its many social good initiatives under a single message. That’s definitely possible, yet as Corey continued his presentation I realized that he had tapped into something even bigger, as well.
Corey shared some powerful findings from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer survey, which has annually measured trust and credibility across 28 markets for nearly two decades. This year’s results reflect disturbing uncertainty and volatility in the public and political spheres. Global trust in institutions like government, media, NGOs and business is falling, and issues that were once “concerns” for respondents are turning into “fears.” Trust is in crisis, and communication is arguably at the heart of that crisis.
This is an ugly truth, and it is not enough to gloss over such a vast problem with just a messaging spin. Thankfully, the silver lining Corey shared with our class offered a legitimate opportunity for change. Citing results from the same survey that showed unwavering trust in employees over institutions, Corey reiterated Starbucks’ mission statement:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
For a long time now, Starbucks has credited its success to“the people in the green aprons.” Starbucks’ partners are woven into its mission and drive its business decisions.
As Corey put it, “when the system is failing, companies must do more.” They must do more for their people in the hopes of building a better, stable, trustworthy world for us all. Investing in and trusting people is a step in a better direction. That, I think, is the power of the “Year of Good” video. Behind its sweet message, there is a much bigger promise that we should all consider.