Starbucks Upsets India with Woke Ad Commercial


by Mark Schwendau

Starbucks India has drawn criticism and faced calls for boycotts after its woke ad commercial last month.  Some have accused the company of “going full Bud Light” after its latest promotion. The ad has a plot line of two parents meeting their transgender daughter (boy acting as a girl) at a Starbucks location. Viewers get the impression the mother has been more accepting of her son’s choice while the father has remained estranged. The father’s cell phone screen image of his son remains when he looked like a boy. But the ad is intent on showing us the father has come around to full acceptance of his son as a daughter.

The two-minute ad is seen here: “Starbucks | #ItStartsWithYourName

It is reported the ad was directed by Gaurav Gupta, conceptualized by Edelman India, and features transgender model and actor Siya (Sia). The campaign titled ‘It Starts With Your Name’ aims to promote acceptance of deviant sexual lifestyles, but to Starbucks, it is improving personal relationships and individuality. Before Arpit became Arpita in the Starbucks ad, Saurav became transvestite model, Siya.

Siya, the 25-year-old trans model and actor from India, has recounted being bullied in school, from long therapy sessions to portfolio shoots today. He reflects on how life has been a journey of discovery as he now reveals himself to the world as a she.

Deepa Krishnan, chief marketing officer of Tata Starbucks, said, “Starbucks has always been a warm, welcoming space for its customers where relationships are fostered, and personal connections are celebrated over a cup of coffee. The unique Starbucks experience where everyone feels welcome is what drives our growth. At Starbucks, we are not in the coffee business serving people but in the people business serving coffee, nurturing the limitless possibilities of human connection every day. 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. We understand that our customers enjoy and cherish their individuality, and we are always ready to celebrate it with them.”

But social media is not taking the advertisement well in India or abroad. Starbucks is now facing a backlash in the form of boycotts much the same as Anheuser-Busch of several months ago.

Starbucks India has faced massive backlash from the advertisement.  Political commentator Rukshan Fernando tweeted, “Starbucks facing a backlash in India after going full Bud Light. If saturating the market with a mediocre US coffee brand wasn’t bad enough, now they are bringing their woke corporate culture to the Sub-Continent.”

One Twitter user weighed in, posting, “I am a huge Starbucks fan. Virtually spend thousands of rupees in their coffee shop every year, But still, I can’t believe why @StarbucksIndia would launch a woke campaign in the name of ‘advertisement.’ Can’t they just market their coffee and service to India? Their service is the best in the world. Who designs such campaigns to guilt trip people who don’t appeal/apply to even 0.1 % of Indians? Perhaps I should take my allegiance to Third wave coffee which has better coffee and equally good service and interiors like #Starbucks.”

Another unhappy Twitter user tweeted, “I don’t understand why brands do this… these ads alienate huge portions of the population. Whatever happened to common sense advertising? Videos like this alienate more customers than they bring in. Literally throwing advertising dollars in the trash just to virtue signal.”

America is now being accused globally of exporting woke culture all around the globe. Starbucks India, a subsidiary of the American corporation, is proving the accusers right.  Experts report that since the end of World War II, the United States has been viewed as the global center of liberalism, and factions of many other nations have sought to mimic its culture.  In modern nomenclature, this translates to countries adopting an American wokeness.

An American tweeted a warning to Indians, “Warning to my homies in India: Do not let these woke corporations, these woke people of any kind, have even the slightest chance of representation there. Woke is a Social Cancer, and it spreads quickly. Stop this before you end up confused about which bathroom to use.”

Copyright © 2023 by Mark S. Schwendau


Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline in news-editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.”  He is a Christian conservative who God cast to be a realist.  His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.

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