"Starbucks without filter", documentary research planned on August 28 on Arte, "deconstructs" the strategy on which the American brand has built its empire, to expose its shortcomings, the infiltrated employee and the hidden camera for support.
The research of Luc Hermann and Gilles Bovon, which lasted a year, was originally aimed at understanding "the reasons for the phenomenal success" of the brand, present in 75 countries with 28,000 coffees.
In September, the channel even opens its first coffee in Italy, Milan & # 39 ;, & # 39; vast, as big as that of Shanghai ;, says Luc Hermann in an interview with AFP.
The branches are still "installed in the best locations and are now part of the urban landscape", he continues. But this betrays an aggressive strategy described in the film "predation of territory", as evidenced by a New York boss from the restaurant, expelled by Starbucks who saw the extension of his lease as outbid and won.
The social, ecological and humanistic discourse of the group, "rare and daring" for a juggernaut from the American economy, "bluff!", Judges the co-director, who is also the producer of Cash Investigation for France 2.
The "well-oiled communication" of his President Howard Schultz (who left the group in June), describing his employees as "partners", is also that of "a potential candidate for the White House in 2020", underlines the documentary, who unsuccessfully asked an interview with the big boss via the communication agency of the latter.
– Barista to do everything –
The team was still allowed to shoot two Starbucks in London, four in Paris, one in Washington and one in Shanghai. But forbidden to talk to employees & # 39 ;, says the reporter.
After six months of research, the authors decided to "infiltrate a journalist", "hired" as a "barista" in a Parisian Starbucks, where she filmed in a hidden camera for two months.
This strategy shows "the enormous pressure on the working speed" and "extreme Taylorization" of the activity, says Luc Hermann. The "barista", paid to most, equipped with chronometers, are in fact employees who do everything. "Multitaches", preferably says Olivier de Mendez, boss of Starbucks France, a rare executive who has permission to express his facial camera.
Another bang from "bluffing", the fair trade of which it claims that it performs & # 39 ;, adds the director. The team traveled to Mexico to meet coffee producers from a small cooperative in Chiapas, who tells the disappointment about their "partnership" with Starbucks when "different mediators with commissions were imposed in passing on them".
"Starbucks sells its coffee more than elsewhere, the quality is very good, but not at all exceptional," Luc Hermann said, saying that "with an average basket of 7 euros, the consumer could demand a fair trade practice that praised the beautiful posters ".
The documentary also raises the problem of "four billion non-recyclable cups, plastic coated with a film of paper", which are discarded every year.
The financial year 2017 of the group of 330,000 employees generated a turnover of 22.4 billion dollars, for a net profit of 2.88 billion.
In France, despite 100 million income, Starbucks makes no profit and is even "debt", says Olivier de Mendez in the film.
"Their costs are very high, with a whole system of tax optimization, royalties, copyright on marketing … the company has debts with Starbucks subsidiaries," said the documentary maker.
In 2015, the European Commission had commissioned Starbucks to pay € 30 million to the Netherlands for having a device with which it could lower its tax burden.