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02/16/2007

The way I see it

Starbucks As part of its "The Way I See It" series, Starbucks has sent a flotilla — nay, an armada — of paper cups out into the world bearing "a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures" to promote, Starbucks says, "a good, healthy discussion."

Here is how I want to believe cup #208 went down.  Imagine, if you will...

One bright autumn day, Michele Johnson-Bergmeier, a warm-hearted, good-natured adoptive mother of one in Wamego, Kansas, indulges herself by settling in with a rich, steaming skinny decaf quad venti organic hazelnut caramel machiatto.  Parking her sleeping son's stroller next to a deep plum velveteen club chair in her neighborhood Starbucks, she happens to notice a pithy statement on the side of the cup — perhaps this one, seeing as she lives in rural Kansas — and feels thunderstruck.  "Maybe," she says, "just maybe...I could say something on a cup."

So all abrim with creativity, she flips open her laptop, connects to the Internet via the store's free WiFi, visits starbucks.com, and writes a brief but loving rhapsody inspired by her sleeping son, by how grateful she is that he entered her life, by how transformative the adoption experience has been for her whole family.  Fueled by sincerity and high-fructose corn syrup, she distills it down to a few short lines and finally clicks "Submit." 

Let us imagine that this is what she writes:

A child who becomes your child through adoption completes a family. Just as when you commit to your spouse or partner there are no biological ties, yet a family was formed. This child enters a family the same way! It is not blood and flesh that form a family, but the heart.

Nice, right?

The Starbucks customer service employee assigned to reading these submissions — most of which are sent by crackpots who invariably sign their entries, "I am not a crackpot" — sees something special in Michele's.  Something touching.  Something human.  Something they can work with.  He forwards her entry up the org chart at Starbucks.

From: Bob in First-Line Crackpot Response
To: Jackie in Marketing
Subject: potential twisi

jackie,

what do u think of this one for our next "the way i see it"?

b0b


From: Jackie in Marketing
To: Bob in First-Line Crackpot Response
Subject: RE: potential twisi

Bob,

I don't know.  To be honest, it doesn't blow my skirt up.  Where's the controversy?  Where's the hook?  What's going to get people talking?  I'll see what we can do, but I'm not hopeful.

--
Cheers,
Jackie


From: Jackie in Marketing
To: Frank in Copywriting
Subject: Possible TWISI #208

Hey, want to give this a quick once-over, punch it up a little, see what you can do?  I'm looking for something in a piquant-but-not-offensive.

A child who becomes your child through adoption completes a family. Just as when you commit to your spouse or partner there are no biological ties, yet a family was formed. This child enters a family the same way! It is not blood and flesh that form a family, but the heart.

--
Cheers,
Jackie


From: Frank in Copywriting
To: Jackie in Marketing
Subject: Frank's edit, adoption TWISI

Here's a first pass.  Let me know what you think.

Embryo cryopreservation?  PGD?  Stem cell research?  Cloning?  Cats' heads on dogs' bodies?  A planet where apes evolved from men?  Sweet Serono almighty, where will this crazy madcap reproductive rampage end?  I wish couples who desperately take every means to conceive a child would realize that adoption is a wonderful alternative.  A child who becomes your child through adoption completes a family.  Just as when you commit to your spouse or partner there are no biological ties, yet a family was formed.  This child enters a family the same way!  It is not blood and flesh that form a family, but the heart.  Now aren't you ashamed of your own narcissistic desires?  My God, aren't you listening?  Don't you hear that unearthly whirring sound?  Poor Louise Brown is spinning in her grave.  Self-absorbed jerks.


From: Jackie in Marketing
To: Lars in Graphic Design
Subject: FWD: Frank's edit, adoption TWISI

Lars, is this going to fit on a cup?

Embryo cryopreservation?  PGD?  Stem cell research?  Cloning?  Cats' heads on dogs' bodies?  A planet where apes evolved from men?  Sweet Serono almighty, where will this crazy madcap reproductive rampage end?  I wish couples who desperately take every means to conceive a child would realize that adoption is a wonderful alternative.  A child who becomes your child through adoption completes a family.  Just as when you commit to your spouse or partner there are no biological ties, yet a family was formed.  This child enters a family the same way!  It is not blood and flesh that form a family, but the heart.  Now aren't you ashamed of your own narcissistic desires?  My God, aren't you listening?  Don't you hear that unearthly whirring sound?  Poor Louise Brown is spinning in her grave. Self-absorbed jerks.

--
Cheers,
Jackie


From: Lars in Graphic Design
To: Jackie in Marketing
cc: David in Accounting, Glenn in Operations, Sasha in Legal
Subject: RE: FWD: Frank's edit, adoption TWISI

Sure, we can just squash the font size down and omit the boilerplate about the contents of the cup being ridiculously, insanely, palate-meltingly hot.  It's COFFEE, for God's sake -- what do people expect?

Bigger question is whether the extra ink for all those words will break the bank.  David?


From: Sasha in Legal
To: Jackie in Marketing, David in Accounting, Glenn in Operations, Lars in Graphic Design
cc: Louise Brown's attorney
Subject: RE: FWD: Frank's edit, adoption TWISI

Boilerplate stays.  Are you TRYING to get us sued?  What, you think we furnish those corrugated heat-resistant cup sleeves because we're altruists?

And Louise Brown's not dead.  Please destroy all interoffice correspondence intimating otherwise.

--
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From: Glenn in Operations
To: Jackie in Marketing, David in Accounting, Lars in Graphic Design, Sasha in Legal
cc: All Staff
Subject: RE: FWD: Frank's edit, adoption TWISI

I think you guys should really add a line about how as soon as you stop trying and adopt, you'll get pregnant in no time.  That happened to my cousin.

--
TTYL,
Glenn


From: David in Accounting
To: Lars in Graphic Design, Jackie in Marketing, Glenn in Operations, Sasha in Legal
Subject: Ink for adoption TWISI

If we were to use this slogan, it would cost less at current prices to print each cup with the blood of an Rh-negative albino virgin than with our standard lead-free vegetable-based fair trade ink.  May I suggest a minor edit?

Hey, infertile: Some lady in Kansas thinks you're a selfish ass.


From: Sasha in Legal
To: Lars in Graphic Design, Jackie in Marketing, Glenn in Operations, David in Accounting
Subject: RE: Ink for adoption TWISI

Get serious, David.  You know we can't say "ass" in corporate communications.  Suggest change from "selfish ass" to "selfish gluteal region" if, in fact, you are referring in a general sense to the large posterior muscle group; "selfish sphincter ani externus" if you are referring specifically to the hole therein.

--
Confidentiality Notice:  This message, and any attachments, may contain information that is confidential, privileged, and/or protected from disclosure under state and federal laws. If you received this message in error or through inappropriate means, please reply to this message to notify the Sender that the message was received by you in error, and then permanently delete this message from all storage media, without forwarding or retaining a copy.


From: Jackie in Marketing
To: Sasha in Legal
cc: Frank in Copywriting
Subject: FWD: RE: FWD: RE: RE: RE: TWISI

What the fuck.  You people.  I swear to God I would quit tomorrow if Starbucks' insurance didn't cover my IVF drugs.  Frank, pass along your final okay on this by COB today, please.

I wish couples who desperately take every means to conceive a child would realize that adoption is a wonderful alternative.  A child who becomes your child through adoption completes a family. Just as when you commit to your spouse or partner there are no biological ties, yet a family was formed. This child enters a family the same way! It is not blood and flesh that form a family, but the heart.

--
Cheers,
Jackie


From: Frank in Copywriting
To: Jackie in Marketing
Subject: TWISI final

I'm so sorry my efforts didn't meet your exacting standards, Jackie.  In future I'll confine my suggestions to changes in capitalization and punctuation.  Heaven knows this Wharton MBA doesn't qualify me to make any real contributions to Starbucks' brand strategy.

There should be a comma after "partner."


From: Jackie in Marketing
To: Frank in Copywriting
cc: Bob in First-Line Crackpot Response, Glenn in Operations

Frank, suck it.

Bob, tell the crackpot she's in.

Glenn, ignore Frank.  Print the goddamn cup.  And shut up about your cousin.

--
Cheers,
Jackie

What, you don't think it could have happened like that?  Look, that's just the way I see it.

Please note: The opinions put forth by contributors to "a little pregnant" do not necessarily reflect the views of Starbucks.

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