Starbucks India’s Transgender Advert causes Controversy

A new advert from Starbucks India is focused on inclusivity. However, the advert has resulted in a mixed response.

Starbucks India's Transgender Advert causes Controversy f

"Your name defines who you are"

Starbucks India has released an advert with the theme of inclusivity, however, it has divided viewers.

The advert takes forward the narrative launched by Starbucks in India in 2022 with #ItStartsWithYourName to reiterate the American brand’s ability to forge connection, warmth and a sense of inclusion in the Indian context.

Filming in a Starbucks outlet in Mumbai, the advert shows a middle-aged couple waiting for their son Arpit to arrive.

They appear anxious as the woman tells her husband:

“Don’t get angry this time please.”

The cafe door opens and a woman walks in. She is the couple’s transgender daughter.

The father’s body language indicates that he is struggling to come to terms with the transition.

He then gets up to order the drinks.

When the barista calls out “three cold coffees for Arpita”, it becomes clear that she has been accepted by the family and her father.

The father tells his daughter: “You are still my child, only a letter has been added to your name.”

The advert ends with the family talking and enjoying their drinks.

In its tweet, Starbucks India wrote:

“Your name defines who you are – whether it’s Arpit or Arpita.

“At Starbucks, we love and accept you for who you are. Because being yourself means everything to us.”

The advert quickly went viral and many praised the fact that it was breaking barriers.

One viewer said: “Good to see some effort for gender inclusivity in India.”

Another said: “When parents accept you as their beloved child and society accepts you as a human resource rather than your gender identity then the whole world looks more beautiful.”

A third commented: “Beautiful. Thank you Starbucks.

“In a world of hatred and haters, it’s so good to see brands that believe in love, empathy and understanding of others.”

However, some took issue with the advert, with one believing it was unnecessary.

The user wrote: “Why was this advertisement necessary, you were already doing good in India.”

Others accused Starbucks of “preaching” transgender rights in India, a topic which is taboo in some parts of the country.

A user commented:

“Stop advising your customers… you are just selling coffee.”

Another said: “Seriously, we will deal with our issues when they come up; the last thing I need is preaching by a Western MNC. You take care of serving coffee.”

A third wrote: “Fail to understand the need for a multinational to get into sensitive topics in a country of hypersensitive sentimental people.

“Huge dent in the brand!!”

Some felt Starbucks was promoting ‘Woke’ culture, leading to #BoycottStarbucks trending on Twitter in India.

Talking about the new campaign, Deepa Krishnan, chief marketing officer of Tata Starbucks said:

“The unique Starbucks experience where everyone feels welcome is what drives our growth.

“With the #ItStartsWithYourName campaign, we hope to further drive the message of being a welcoming, inclusive brand where nothing matters to us more than our customers’ comfort.”

Watch the Starbucks India Advert


Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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