How does a business or brand respond when it becomes an inadvertent target in a political uprising?
Starbucks might be asking itself this question following protests in Athens, Greece, on Feb. 12 that resulted in a Starbucks location being burned down, among 34 total buildings that were set aflame, according to news reports.
The protesters weren’t targeting Starbucks specifically—the acts were in response to the Greek parliament’s deliberations over a bill that would save the country from bankruptcy, but would result in 3.3 billion Euros being cut from people’s wages and pensions. It was a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
But when your brand burns—literally—some public reaction should be forthcoming.
“I would certainly make sure that whoever is in charge of that location issues some kind of statement,” says Rodger Roeser, founder and president of The Eisen Agency. “At some level, the statement should decry that kind of activity, and should make note that this type of activity is hurting the very folks—the employees that worked at that Starbucks—that these protests are trying to support. Do that for no other reason than to make sure other folks know that Starbucks does not condone this type of activity,” he says.
Nevertheless, the political situation should play a role in the tone of the response, according to Roeser. “Starbucks needs to very mindful of how it words the statement,” he says.
And finally, it’s important to communicate directly to the consumers, as best as Starbucks can, about exactly what the company is doing in order to get that location up and running again. “They need to communicate how long they would be closed or open at that location,” says Roeser.
Follow Sahil Patel: @sizpatel