Starbucks customers can now get their frappuccinos without a side order of race relations discussion. The company says the "Race Together" campaign, in which baristas were encouraged to stimulate discussion by writing the phrase "Race Together" on coffee cups, has moved on to a different phase, NPR reports. The week-old campaign had been heavily criticized as inappropriate, reports the AP, and although an end date had not been publicly announced before, the company says the cup messages were "just the catalyst" for a wide-ranging conversation on the sensitive issue and it had always planned to end that part of the campaign on Sunday.
"While there has been criticism of the initiative—and I know this hasn't been easy for any of you—let me assure you that we didn't expect universal praise," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a memo to employees. He promised that the campaign would continue with moves including open forums, special sections in USA Today, the opening of more Starbucks outlets in "urban communities," and the hiring of 10,000 "opportunity youth," reports the New York Times. The backlash to the cup campaign was so fierce that the company's senior VP for communications briefly deleted his Twitter account after encountering what he called a "cascade of negativity." (Read more Starbucks stories.)