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By Amit Bapna, APAC editor-at-large

May 11, 2023 | 3 min read

The US coffee giant has launched an inclusive campaign featuring a transgender model as it seeks to win over Indian consumers.

Tata Starbucks’ latest brand campaign for the Indian market has an interesting plot. The film takes forward the narrative launched by Starbucks in India last year with #ItStartsWithYourName to reiterate the American brand’s ability to forge connection, warmth and a sense of inclusion in the Indian context.

The film, shot in a Starbucks outlet in Mumbai, shows a husband and wife waiting for their son (Arpit) to arrive, with tension in the air. The door of the café opens, and a woman walks in and joins them at the table.

She is the couple’s transgender daughter. The father goes and orders the coffee and when the Starbucks barista calls out ‘three cold coffees for Arpita’ it becomes clear that she has been accepted by the family and her father.

The simple act of the barista calling out and addressing the customer by their name plays an interesting part in the narrative and shows the acceptance of the father of his child, whether Arpit or Arpita, without any conditions.

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.”

Last year, Starbucks launched its ambitious plans to conquer the Indian consumer by building a sense of familiarity at its cafes and calling out people by their names against their bill numbers, which is the usual practice in the F&B category.

Accordingly, it launched a pilot project in four cities in the first stage of last year, which worked well. The project is now being taken nationally with the intention of making the customer journey more approachable, warm and inclusive. This film carries forward the pilot project that the café brand had launched to win over a complex and diverse market like India with a slew of announcements and launches. It is a classic case of the localization of a global brand in menu options, price points and portion sizes.

To achieve the aforementioned, Starbucks has unveiled new and many India-first features like the new small cup `Picco’ size for hot beverages, offerings like filter coffee, masala chai and elaichi chai, as well as many signature milkshakes that will be offered at exciting price points as well.

The film was created by Edelman’s creative team and directed by Gaurav Gupta.

Notably, to keep it real and inclusive in the true sense, the protagonist cast in the film is herself a transgender model Sia, who has gone through a gender reassignment surgery.

In addition to the main film, the brand is also launching a series of shorter product films for Picco, Masala Chai, Filter coffee, a new food menu and milkshakes.

Starbucks first entered the Indian market in October 2012 through a 50/50 joint venture with Tata Consumer Products. In a short span, it has become the country’s leading café brand with 341 stores spread over 43 cities, even as it charts out the plans for the next phase of its growth.

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