No, there is no free Starbucks campaign linked to Istanbul’s transit system

By: Emincan Yüksel
November 16 2023

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No, there is no free Starbucks campaign linked to Istanbul’s transit system

Source: Facebook


The Verdict Misleading

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality ran a campaign with Starbucks as claimed, but this campaign ended before the Israel-Hamas war began.

Claim ID cc4f14f9


Since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas on Octover 7, protests and product boycotts have broken out around the globe. Recently, supporters of the Palestinian cause have frequently targeted Starbucks locations in Türkiye as a source of protest. 

At the same time as these ongoing protests, there have been claims on social media suggesting that the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is running a free Starbucks coffee campaign for individuals who have a balance of 75 Turkish Liras (TL) on their Istanbul public transportation card (Istanbulkart). These claims, shared on platforms like X and Facebook, were accompanied by a photo of Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu with the flags of the U.S. and the U.K. along with the caption, "Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has started a campaign for free Starbucks coffee for those who 'purchase an Istanbulkart for 75 TL.' Are you aware of the danger...??"

However, while the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality did run a Starbucks coffee campaign, it is not current and ended before the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out.

In fact

On 9 October 2023, two days after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the Starbucks Workers United union shared a post on its X account that expressed solidarity with Palestine, with the post being swiftly deleted. Starbucks management publicly disagreed with the union's stance and has taken legal action, alleging damage to the brand's reputation. In response, the union has filed a counter-suit, claiming that Starbucks supports terrorism. Following the incident, which received widespread media coverage, Starbucks faced boycott actions worldwide for supporting Israel.

When researching the municipality's official website, it becomes clear that there was a previous campaign, but this pre-dates the current war and is not related to the boycott.

Screenshots of the Starbucks campaign from the Istanbulkart website. (Source: Istanbul Municipality website)

The alleged campaign started on 14 June 2023 and ended on 31 August 2023, as shown on the website's past campaigns page. In addition, the campaign provided a 20 percent discount to all students who uploaded 150 TL or more to their Starbucks mobile application via Istanbulkart.

There is no Starbucks campaign listed among the current campaigns on Istanbulkart's website. Starbucks Turkey's official website also does not have any agreements with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality among the campaigns shared.

The verdict

The claim that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is running a free Starbucks coffee campaign when a 75 TL balance is loaded via Istanbulkart is not true. While there was a campaign, it is not current, having started on June 14, 2023, before the Israel-Hamas war began, and ended on August 31, 2023. It is entirely unrelated to the war and ended over a month before it started. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.

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