If your cup runs over with kindness, reward is yours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am


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Mini drivers become ambassadors in Starbucks' search for good Samaritans

'Stop! There is a cup on your car!'

Several years ago in the US, a good Samaritan flagged down a taxi when he saw a cup of hot coffee on the top of the car.

The story, it seems, inspired the popular coffee chain Starbucks to launch its 'Red Cup on a car' campaign.

Participants in the campaign, known as 'Red Cup ambassadors', are given a red Starbucks cup, which looks like a ceramic cup but is made of styrofoam and has a big magnet on the bottom.

Ambassadors drive around the city with the cup on the top of their cars. If someone stops the car and reminds the driver about the cup, the good Samaritan will be given a 'sampling invitation' for a free Starbucks drink.

Thomas Hahn, Starbucks Coffee's general manager in Hong Kong, introduced the campaign to the city this year and made it a supporting event for Operation Santa Claus, which the coffee chain backs each year.

'Hong Kong people have hearts, but the pace of life in here is too fast and they can't really notice what is happening around them,' said Mr Hahn.

At Sunday's launch of the city's first 'Red Cup on a car' event, 50 drivers were given magnetic cups. Among them were 25 owners of Mini Coopers, all members of the New Mini Club Hong Kong. They will cruise the city's streets until December 31.

'I expect to meet 50 kind-hearted people,' said Christine Lau Wai-king, a Red Cup ambassador and Mini Cooper owner. 'If someone reminds me to take the cup off, I will be touched.'

She often met people on the road who 'would remind me to shut the doors properly', Ms Lau said, adding that it was thoughtful reminders like that that could prevent disasters on the road.

Mr Hahn said about 10,000 sampling invitations had been prepared for distribution and that if 'all the invitations are gone, we will print more'. A leaflet introducing Operation Santa Claus will be distributed together with the drink coupon.

'We want to encourage the people to continue their good deeds,' Mr Hahn said.

The coupon entitles the person to a Christmas drink - a Ginger Bread Latte, Toffee Nut Latte or Peppermint Signature Hot Chocolate - from any Starbucks cafe in the city.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is also holding a series of activities in support of Operation Santa Claus.

These include collecting toys and books from customers for donation to Operation Santa beneficiaries, a charity jazz concert with local guitarist Eugene Pao, and outreach activities with the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.

In fact, Starbucks has been supporting Operation Santa since early this month, donating HK$5 for every cup of Christmas beverage sold.

Starbucks, an Operation Santa supporter for three years, has also donated HK$200,000 to the campaign this year.