Ubaid Zargar

Tata-Starbucks lands in controversy for its trans-inclusive ad

Netizens on Twitter have started a boycott campaign against the brand for their support for transgender people.

Starbucks India on Wednesday posted an ad film from their latest campaign ‘It Starts With Your Name’ that calls for acceptance of transgender people in the society. While the brand appears to be in solidarity with the trans community, the ad film has ruffled a few feathers on the internet. 

The controversial film shows a family reunion of sorts, where a transgender woman meets her parents after a long time. With how the wife is asking for composure from her husband before their transgender child arrives in the Starbucks restaurant, the ad film hints at a rough and dismissive prelude to the rendezvous.

After a sentimental exchange between the parents and their child, the father steps up and orders three coffees for ‘Arpita’, the name of their transitioned daughter. 

Shortly after the launch of the film, netizens have brought the heat to Starbucks. Many viewers have taken to Twitter to display their displeasure with the film, asking for the brand to stick to business and not politics. 

One such user, who happens to be a retired IPS officer, asked the brand to draw a line between business and its ‘woke’ outlook.

Some other viewers took offense at the brand’s attempt to normalise a culture that people believe is foreign to India. Other users exclaimed that the restaurant chain is not here to sell coffee, but instead an ideology.

It is to be noted, there is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court seeking validity and legal recognition of same-sex marriage, something that directly affects the LGBTQ movement in the country. Many brands, who have previously shown solidarity with the community, have been fairly quiet during the hearing. 

Starbucks seems to have taken their chance at making a statement, beyond the pleasures of conformity. In many ways the ad film is a personal statement of the brand’s identity, as is exhibited by the caption for the video.

There have been other brands in the past who've shown their support for the community through trans-inclusive ads. For instance, here are a few examples.

From the looks of it, the Starbucks ad might have been received adversely given its close proximity with the Supreme Court case, which has so far polarised the citizens on where they stand on the matter.

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