Starbucks Launches 'Project Red' Campaign

Will Donate Part of Proceeds From Holiday Drinks to Combat HIV

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CHICAGO ( -- Starbucks is going Red.

Amid projections that it won't see improved same-store sales until 2009, the coffee chain today launches a full-scale holiday promotion with Project Red including TV ads from new agency BBDO themed, "It's more than coffee." As part of the holiday push, Starbucks will divert five cents from every holiday beverage sold to fund African AIDS programs.

The program kicks off at a crucial time for Starbucks, considering that the java giant has many mall locations.

The opening commercial has the same minimalist feel of a spot aired Nov. 1 on "Saturday Night Live" featuring moving words on a solid background set to music. But unlike the spot that touted its Election Day coffee giveaway, the new spot uses the colors red and white rather than green and brown.

Starbucks will launch the holiday program in Times Square on Friday, with celebrity chef Mario Batali and actors Mary Louise Parker and Annabella Sciorra and model Helena Christensen. In addition to the ads, Starbucks has built a Red community site, where consumers can use an "impact calculator" to learn how their purchases are helping save lives.

The promotion fits within Starbucks' global mission, the company said. "Now more than ever, it is important to continue to be a responsible global company," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. "We have a deep partnership with coffee growing regions in Africa and are proud to partner with our customers to contribute toward an AIDS-free Africa." Starbucks describes this as the beginning of a "multi-year partnership" with Red.

The chain embraced TV advertising last Thanksgiving -- after years of swearing off it -- with a much-lauded campaign by then-agency Wieden & Kennedy. But the work failed to drive sales, and Starbucks walked away again until last month.

The Red promotion begins Thanksgiving Day, and runs through January 2. Via the program, for every Peppermint Mocha Twist, Gingersnap Latte or Espresso Truffle purchased during that period, Starbucks will contribute five cents to the Global Fund to invest in AIDS programs in Africa. On Dec. 1, however, Starbucks will contribute five cents for every "hand-crafted beverage" sold, in honor of World AIDS Day.

"Starbucks is bringing Red to communities across the country and giving millions of customers a chance to do something good every day," Red chief executive Susan Smith Ellis said. "All of these small choices, across millions of coffee purchases, will add a significant new contribution stream to the more than $115 million that (RED) partners have already generated to help buy lifesaving AIDS medicine for those living with HIV in Africa."

Other Red partners include the Gap, Converse, Apple and Hallmark.

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