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Starbucks and M.C. Yogi Offer You a Free Cuppa Joe — If You Volunteer

Backed with the catchy music of M.C. Yogi, Starbucks today kicks off its latest campaign honoring the Obama administration's call to national service — and offers a free cup of coffee to anybody willing to pledge five hours of volunteer time. Following up on the smashing success of the company's free-coffee-for-anyone-who-votes campaign, this latest initiative is part of Starbucks' own rehabilitation strategy of linking its brand to various causes, says a spokesman for BBDO, the coffee shops' agency.

Starbucks PledgeM.C. Yogi was an inspired choice as the soundtrack for this spot. The young yoga master/hip hop artist is best known for his campaign anthem "Vote for Hope" which sampled then-candidate Barack Obama's riveting speech at the 2004 Democratic convention.

But his route to Starbucks fame came via a more circuitous route. BBDO creative director David Carter happened to be at a yoga class in upstate New York when the yoga teacher played an M.C. Yogi song. He was instantly intrigued, he told me over a latte in a midtown Starbucks (of course) near the company's Manhattan headquarters. The company's creatives tracked down Yogi and asked him to compose a song specifically for this spot.

Oprah will debut the spot today on her show. You can hear the tune for yourself on YouTube (or catch it on CNN, MSNBC, and online), and download it — for free — on the Starbucks site.

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