Actually, Fraser, I can't agree with you on this topic. The Starbucks ad showed to me that Mr. Schultz wanted to have it both ways and used a hot button issue to appear statesmanlike and get a ton of publicity. This is not the first time that Starbucks used this tactic -- piggy backing on a current news issue. Last year, Schultz wrote a letter urging bipartisanship on fiscal issues. Paul Krugman, the NY Times Nobel Prize-winning economic columnist, wrote of Mr. Schultz' "misdiagnosis of the political problem we face." The column's title was Brewing Up Confusion (Published: December 30, 2012). Mr. Schultz's letters to the public is just a new wrinkle on an old PR tactic of client's willing to take a stand on controversial political issues: having them speak out on issues they care about.
Ever the advocate for public relations, Fraser. And, I fully buy in to your explanation. But, pr and advertising are the province of marketing. Hard to argue.
However, I applaud the student who has the depth of understanding to ask!