Starbucks Launches #WhatsYourName in New U.K. Ad; Bringing Patrons Into a ‘Day In the Life’ of LGBTQ+

Published on February 9, 2020

Earlier in the month, Starbucks premiered a new advertisement in the U.K., highlighting the struggles that transgender youth may face while transitioning.

The ad focuses on a young adult, referred to as “Jemma.” However, you can see from the discomfort on their face that they do not want to be called by this name.

From the mailman and the doctor, to their own father, they are repeatedly referred to by their birth name, otherwise known as their dead-name. It isn’t until they order a drink at the coffee chain that they are asked for their name and finally get to use their preferred name: “James.” This then prompts a smile on James’ face.

The importance of the ad depicts what it means to show acceptance and what that may feel like for transitioning individuals. From the ad, we can see how Starbucks wants their stores to become a safe space for their customers, as well as their employees.


Including this ad, Starbucks U.K. released an entire series for their “#WhatsYourName” campaign; they each reflect on what transgender individuals may go through on a daily basis. James’ ad also won the Diversity in Advertising award from U.K. network, Channel 4, which grants it £1 million of airtime.

The caption of the video posted to YouTube also explains how the company believes in accepting everyone that walks through their doors:

“At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome. It’s a small gesture, but it’s symbolic of what we believe in: Recognition and acceptance, whoever you are, or want to be. We welcome everyone.”

Starbucks U.K. and Mermaids

In addition to their campaign, Starbucks U.K. partnered up with Mermaids, an organization supporting transgender and gender-diverse youth within the country. Their stores will sell mermaid tail cookies, with a portion of their purchases—up to £100,000—going back to Mermaids to support their work.

Starbuck’s Ongoing Support

Starbucks is no stranger in supporting transgender rights and LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

One well-known action came in 2018. The coffee giant expanded their benefits for transgender employees; its health insurance included gender reassignment surgery in 2013, but now offers cosmetic procedures, such as facial feminization, breast augmentation/removal and more. In addition, most Starbucks stores added gender neutral bathrooms over the years to provide comfort for their customers and employees alike.

Being LGBTQ+ in the workplace may not be the easiest thing to handle. But when larger companies like Starbucks show support for their employees, it grants them feelings of acceptance and relief. Additionally, the coffee giant’s support being seen outside of Pride month sets an example for other companies to do the same. Support for the LGBTQ+ community should not only happen during one month of the year, but instead should happen all the time.

One Movement We Can All Get Behind

The Starbucks U.K. ad generated a number of positive remarks from individuals on social media. Some shared stories about their own experiences and others applauded Starbucks for sending such a positive message, which also brought some to tears.

Others on social media recalled some past, negative moments at different Starbucks branches. However, they thanked the company for their growth and portrayal of transgender individuals throughout their campaign.

Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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