Monday, December 01, 2008

have your starbucks and drink it too

It's common to hear global health advocates try to break down the billions of dollars needed to defeat the "big three" — HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis — in terms that are easy to grasp and to perceive as "reasonable".

One of the most popular is one that Columbia University's Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, a special adviser to UN Secretary-Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, has used on more than one occasion — reminding us all how much we spend on that morning cup of Joe.

"Three dollars per year from each of us. That's all we're talking about, a cup of coffee, once per year from a Starbucks."

Did someone tell Starbucks?

From November 27 through January 2, Starbucks, through its partnership with (RED), is donating 5 cents to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for each purchase of one of three "Exclusive" coffee drinks. On December 1, World AIDS Day (tomorrow), Starbucks is expanding the program by donating 5 cents for each "hand-crafted beverage".

(RED) has been relatively successful in raising funds for and awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic by asking very little of consumers. Buy something for yourself, feel good about it, appear socially or politically conscious, and throw a few dimes to cover the cost of AIDS medication for people in Africa. It's a win win all around, even if some folks think it's a scam.

With news of the global financial crisis confronting us every day, we're all looking around to see where we can eliminate costs and, judging by Starbucks' financial performance lately, that morning latte or afternoon Frappuccino might not be making the cut.

Will the new campaign help the coffee/lifestyle company to reverse that trend? Will the guilt of paying $3 for something you could make for a quarter back at home be alleviated knowing you will be helping to save lives? Can we have that cup of coffee and still triumph over the big 3? Can you have your Starbucks and drink it too?

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