I realize this will start the firestorm of controversy on both sides, which I’m actually looking forward to, so please feel free to comment…

Can I tell you how much I love Howard Schultz and my Gold Card membership? If you haven’t gotten one yet here’s their intro~

“You’re our heart and soul. You’re the people we see every day. You’re the ones who keep us going. And you’re the voices we listen to when you ask for a little recognition, and a little special treatment. Welcome to the membership you helped us create. Welcome to Starbucks Gold.”

WOW…I’m not a customer; I’m their heart and soul!!! It’s a marketers dream to have such loyal brand enthusiasts and this is another example of a smart and evocative brand campaign to gain new and retain existing fans.

So, for Howard, let me count the ways….

1) I love how he’s made oatmeal sexy, fun and less expensive than a yogurt parfait.

2) I love how he brought the holiday line-up in earlier this year, giving us a nice distraction from those economic and political woes.

3) I love how he took out a 30 second spot to encourage us to vote and offered free coffee to all who did. And loved the PR storm that hit once the complaints flurried in~ yeah FREE COFFEE FOR EVERYONE!

4) I love how he recalled his humble upbringings, the ignorant dad of his prom date berating him for his family’s car, and his beliefs on treating employees with dignity, empowerment and potential.

5) I love how he supports sustainable causes.

6) I love how he made a safe place for me to enjoy all 5 senses while reading a Malcom Gladwell book in peace.

7) I love how he created a gigantic ecosystem of local merchants and entrepreneurs wanting to compete with his brand.

8 ) I love how he is still confident and stores are still buzzing even with being 95% down YOY.

9) I love how he emphasizes the importance of knowing everyone’s name and drink.

10) I love how he took back the reigns and re-dedicated his brand to its roots and not music.