I’ll have a mocha frappucino and BA to go, please.

Today’s RepMan post comes from WalekPeppercommer Chris Gillick. His colleague Dmitriy Ioselevich will write a rebuttal tomorrow.

Mug_2012On Monday, Starbucks made a big splash when it announced the launch of its College Achievement Plan. Starting this fall, Starbucks employees will have the opportunity to complete their college degrees on the company’s dime.

So is this just a desperate PR stunt attempting to:

  1. Revive the public’s goodwill about the company?
  2. Raise awareness about generous employee benefits?
  3. Deflect attention that coffee prices are going through the roof?

The answer to all three questions from my outsider’s perspective is… Maybe.

But I see it as much more. I see Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz leveraging this program as a means to enter into the dicey public policy debate of college affordability and exponentially rising student debt. If I were Schultz, I would call my public affairs firm in Washington and work the back channels to get a Congressional hearing on the schedule ASAP.

Though many will disagree, this really is a win-win situation for all involved. Starbucks gets great publicity and ambitious employees get an opportunity that may otherwise not be available to them. It also benefits the American taxpayer. Starbucks shareholders are generously footing the bill so that taxpayers are partially relieved of the coming cascade of student loan defaults. Other companies would be wise to follow suit.

In closing, in the comedic spirit of the RepMan Blog, I’ll cite America’s favorite satirist publication, The Onion.

When asked about the program, one respondent interviewed by publication said: “It’s nice to know that when our civic institutions fail us, our mid-price coffee chains are there to step in.”


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