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Singer Neil Young boycotts Starbucks over Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law
Paul E. Olsen, Karen Popovich, Alexandra Brenock
November 1, 2016
Ethics & Social Justice, Strategy & General Management
Public Relations, PR, crisis management, social media, media
Journal of Case Studies
Late in 2014, singer Neil Young issued a social media message calling for a boycott of Starbucks. Young alleged that Starbucks, as a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), supported a lawsuit that aimed to block a Vermont law that required genetically-modified food ingredients be labeled. A self-described loyal customer, Kyle Roberson, heard about the boycott from mainstream media sources including The Washington Post, Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, Rollingstone.com, and MTV.com. Could Kyle continue to patronize Starbucks if what Neil Young said was true? While waiting for the official Starbucks response, Kyle investigated the legislation, the parties in the lawsuit, and Young’s call for a boycott.