The series, which is produced by Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz and executive producer Rajiv Chandrasekaran, chronicles the stories of people who are helping make a difference in their communities. It debuted last September with 10 stories that were made available in video, written and podcast form.
The second season of 'Upstanders,' which premieres on Oct. 10, will be available to Amazon Prime members and for free on Starbucks’ website. In addition to 11 episodes, actor Michael B Jordan will narrate an “exclusive audiobook” version of the series that will be available for free on Audible.
News of the series’ sophomore season was revealed at an Advertising Week New York talk, where Schultz discussed the company’s commitment to social issues. During his time as chief executive, a position he stepped down from last year, Schultz often garnered attention for taking a stance and taking action on social issues.
For example, he helped spearhead the company’s 2015 ‘Race Together’ initiative – which involved employees writing the words ‘Race Together’ on coffee cups in hopes of sparking a dialogue among consumers about race relations – in response to the killings of two unarmed black men by police the year prior.
While the effort proved to be controversial and deemed a marketing ploy, Schultz ultimately defended it, stating at the time that the objective “was to stimulate conversation, empathy and compassion toward one another” and that “an issue as tough as racial and ethnic inequality requires risk-taking and tough-minded action.”
Schultz has also been vocal about topics such as gun control and gay marriage throughout his tenure. In 2013, he wrote a letter asking customers to “no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.” That same year, he told an investor that he could sell his shares of Starbucks if he didn’t like company’s support of same-sex marriage.
During his Advertising Week discussion, Schultz said that Starbucks has always strived to achieve “the fragile balance between profit and conscience.”
“From the very beginning, we decided that not every business decision should be economical,” he said. “The fact remains that there’s a great need to elevate the national discourse on issues that unfortunately are not being discussed in the way that they should be. Given the last six to seven months of this administration, being indifferent as a company or as a private citizen, to me, is as evil as contributing to the vitriol and the hate that is going on in the country.”