The Howard Schultz Email is a Fake
*** UPDATE ***
The Wall Street Journal is reporting this email from Howard Schultz is 100% legitimate.
In the online article, a Starbucks spokeswoman verified the authenticity of the memo. I'm shocked. And Jim Romenesko, I apologize for calling you out for publishing this email since it seems to be verified as 100% real. Oh my. Oh, oh my ...
If you peruse the Starbucks Gossip blog run by Jim Romenesko, you’ll notice he posted an email supposedly written by Howard Schultz, Starbucks Chairman. This email derides decisions the company has made resulting in the commoditization of the Starbucks brand experience.
It’s a FAKE. That’s the opinion of this former long-time Starbucks marketer.
The fake email begins this way …
Read the entire FAKE email here.
My thin-slice and thick-slice reaction tells me it’s a 100% FAKE. Why? Six reasons why …
First, the FY08 strategic planning process started in 2006, not 2007. Starbucks begins its 2008 financial year in October of 2007. Ain’t no way the company is just now starting the planning process for FY08.
Second, Howard would NEVER single-out Flavorlock packaging as being a reason for the commoditization of the Starbucks experience. Instead, he would focus on the elimination of scooping whole bean coffees from bins. Flavorlock packaging made it possible for the company to ship roasted coffee all over the world while keeping it fresh. Without Flavorlock silver bullet 5 lb. bags, Starbucks today would be the size of In-N-Out Burger.
Third, Howard would take full responsibility upfront for the decision to phase out La Marzocco espresso machines in favor of the Verisimo machines. That was his call ultimately. He would acknowledge that upfront. Also, since this is an internal email, he would use the specific Verisimo name and not the generic “automated espresso machines” name.
Fourth, this email is devoid of any aspirtational tone. Howard, no matter how critical he is, will always exude an aspirational tone.
Fifth, nowhere in this email is the mention of the “Third Place” experience. Howard would NEVER send an email harping on the commoditization of the Starbucks experience without referencing the “Third Place” customer experience. NEVER.
Sixth, when this email touches upon the encroaching competition of other coffee places and QSRs, Howard would NEVER use strong language like, “This must be eradicated.” As a company, Starbucks is extremely careful to not use such language when talking about competitors. Starbucks learned from the anti-trust proceedings with Microsoft that internal emails using strong language that mentions killing/thrashing competitors could be used against them. Trust me, Howard would NEVER use such strong language about blunting competition.
I could go on but … I won’t.
A NOTE TO Starbucks Gossip Webmaster Jim Romenesko … I think you used very poor judgment in posting this fake letter. You have enough journalistic smarts to smell a fake. Shame on you. Someone just pulled a Howard Stern Baba Booey on ya.