Starbucks pushes to phase out iconic cups, Meta’s 9/11 documentary experience raises eyebrows and tech industry faces sustainability questions

Also: PETA jumps into buzzy ‘Elden Ring’ video game to promote its mission and values.

Hello, communicators:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made waves on Twitter yesterday with a video inspired by the new blockbuster video game “Elden Ring,” garnering more than 25,000 likes on a video shared from its brand account.

Since its release just three weeks ago, “Elden Ring” has sold 12 million copies worldwide. PETA’s team jumped on board the trending cultural conversation with a video using the game’s virtual creatures (they’re scary) to advocate for ethical practices in interactions with real-life animals.

“PETA” began trending on Twitter and the tweet prompted responses like the following:



It’s a reminder that humor has its place in digital messaging, even when making a point on a very serious topic.

Here are today’s other top stories:

Starbucks accelerates push to phase out single-use cups

Starbucks is buckling down on its mission to eliminate its dependency on single-use coffee cups, the company announced this week.

The coffee chain shared that it is testing new initiatives to reduce how many single-use cups it provides to customers, including:

  • “Borrow A Cup,” where Starbucks provides customers with a reusable cup “designed to be returned to stores, professionally cleaned, and reused by other Starbucks customers.”
  • “100% Reusable Operating Models,” where single-use cups are eliminated entirely in favor of personal cups, reusables or for-here mugs.
  • “Personal Cups & For-Here-Ware,” in which Starbucks encourages customers to bring their own mugs and emphasizes “Starbucks provided for-here-ware as the default sit-and-stay experience.”

From Starbucks’ blog post:

“We set a bold aspiration to become a resource positive company—to store more carbon than we emit, to eliminate waste and to conserve and replenish more freshwater than we use. This aspiration included setting ambitious 2030 targets to cut our carbon, water, and waste footprints in half,” said Michael Kobori, Starbucks chief sustainability officer. “Innovation is how we will build our next chapter, advance our planet positive impact, and boldly reimagine our future together.”

Why it matters: This is a major step for Starbucks in its commitment to reducing single-use waste. The move prompted an onslaught of earned media coverage that emphasized the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Starbucks’ attempt to become more “green” won’t go unnoticed by consumers who care about the environment.


New research from The Harris Poll shows two-thirds of adults in America are concerned about the tech industry’s impact on the environment.

(Image via)

Harris Poll found that an even larger percentage of respondents (73%) believe that tech companies have a “high obligation to address climate change.”

Higher still is the percentage of respondents who think tech companies should “set goals and invest in climate solutions” (81%).

PR pros, if your organization isn’t setting ESG goals and making strides toward meeting them, it’s possible that your organization’s inaction will hurt your brand reputation.

View more from Harris Poll here.


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Studio behind “Surviving 9/11” VR experience responds to Twitter backlash

Twitter users bristled this week after a journalist shared a photo of a SXSW booth appearing to allow attendees to experience “Surviving 9/11: 27 Hours Under The Rubble” with Meta’s virtual reality tech, Oculus.

Food journalist Dave Infante tweeted a photo of the booth, commenting, “a friend just sent me this photo from #SXSW of a facebook/@Meta VR booth there. starting to suspect this *may* not be the best company to hold a near-monopoly over our shared digital future… hmm…”

Infante’s tweet has since been deleted, but here’s another reporter’s view of the setup:

Twitter users shared their concerns:

Ironically, Meta’s SXSW activation was the victim of some social media misinformation. The booth wasn’t a virtual reality 9/11 experience, but rather a documentary about the last woman to escape the rubble. The documentary was being shown on Meta’s VR gear—and many praised the storytelling.

Targo, the studio behind the 9/11 documentary, clarified the purpose of the booth in a tweet:

Infante later deleted his tweet, noting that he had “improperly framed Facebook’s role in the production.”

What you should know: This should serve as an important reminder to PR pros that if you don’t control the narrative around your content, it can easily run wild. Targo’s quick and concise response to Infante (on the social platform where the controversy originated) dampened the flames of a crisis that threatened to spread online. It highlights the importance of being present on social media to tell your organization’s story, or risk letting others define what’s happening for themselves.


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