Starbucks joins the race debate as clashes in Ferguson and elsewhere escalate tension

MarketsAssociated Press

Starbucks is joining the national conversation about race in the latest sign that corporations are trying to tie their brands to big social issues.

The coffee chain known for its Frappuccinos says it will elaborate on the plans at its annual shareholder meeting Wednesday in Seattle. Already, workers at its U.S. stores have been told to write "Race Together" on cups and the company plans to start publishing "conversation guides" on the topic.

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The decision has sparked a backlash on social media, with people saying it's opportunistic for a coffee chain to try and inject itself into such an important issue. But it comes as food and beverage executives say customers are drawn to companies that project some sort of feel-good image or embrace positions on social causes.