Starbucks And Their Not So Festive Christmas Cup

Starbucks Christmas Cups Are Back

It’s time to wave goodbye to all the trick-or-treating and get ready for the holiday season, and what better way to get into a festive mood than by sipping a nice hot cup of Starbucks?

Last week, the coffee giant launched a new, limited-edition green cup–a design that the company said, “celebrates community”.

Starbucks green "community" cup

Apparently, not everyone wanted to join the celebration–in fact, the internet went on fire the moment coffee lovers were served their new, not-so-festive cups.

But there’s another twist! Just today, Starbucks released not one, but 13 new, red, and highly-decorated Christmas cups, complete with trees, snow, and reindeer!

The question is, if the real holiday cups were red all along, why release the green cups at all?

No Stranger To Creating A Stir

In a press release, Starbucks’ chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, said that the cup was designed to represent the company’s connection to the community. At the time, many interpreted this as a reference to the unfolding presidential election.

The election is finally over, but it was certainly tough on Americans. Between Trump and Clinton, the insipid debates, and the constant media stream, it’s still setting in for most people that Trump actually won.

But, if the new cup really was a nod to the election insanity, was coffee really the best way to address that issue?

Consumer opinion seems divided. Many think that Starbucks has skipped their holiday duties for years, never quite able to get the cup looking festive enough. Remember the craziness when last year’s cup design launched?

The Man (and Purpose) Behind the Cups

Starbucks’ tradition of rolling out festive cups began in 1997. This year, Shogo Ota was commissioned to design the new green cup.

While some were angry that the cup was not seasonal enough, others were happy that the coffee chain tried to promote peace and unity.

But did anyone actually sit down and think, independently of a press release, that the green cup might just be a teaser, and that there was another cup on the way that would be bigger, bolder and more festive? It wasn’t long before images leaked of one of the new red cups, and Starbucks workers were shown holding a cup with holly leaves, probably in a bid to calm everyone down. Why all the fuss?

Despite the community theme, to me it looks like the green cup was connected to the presidential election. Thankfully, it didn’t show support for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or urge coffee lovers to vote for either party. Can you imagine the fallout if that had been the case?

But I guess showing community spirit was not such a bad idea. What could be better to stop all the anger and bitterness during the election than a paper green coffee cup? Pardon the sarcasm, but world peace is not going to be created by printing calming, yet disposable cups to drink our much needed wake-up beverage from.

Also, about the festive red cup–it appears that once again, negative or positive, Starbucks has gained a whole lot of free media attention. Almost like they had that part planned all along…

War on Christmas, or Passing Drama?

Some believe Starbucks is swaying from Christmas displays because they’re afraid to offend those who don’t celebrate. They seem to display snowflakes, Santa, and other holiday symbols just fine, but people are bothered by the lack of ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Goodwill Tidings,’ etc.

The “War on Christmas” has been a punditry football for years. There are dozens of Daily Show bits skewering this, from Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah alike. Will the topic ever die, or will it keep coming back year after year, like some kind of holiday zombie?

So what does this say about Americans as a whole?

On the one hand, they complain about the cups not being festive enough, and have ridiculously high standards for what is and isn’t “Christmas-y”.

On the other hand, it’s just a cup. Surely, if someone is really so offended by the design, they could simply boycott Starbucks for a while. Instead, it seems that worldwide we are trapped into a complaining mode that never follows through with action.

Say you went to buy a cup of coffee and it tasted disgusting–would you return to drink the same Joe again? So, if you really, truly, are not happy with Starbucks’ attempts to tap into the festive season, and you wanted change, why not protest by simply bypassing Starbucks until they get the message?

Americans like to use the expression, “Vote with your dollar.” Well, vote!

One cannot help but feel that the message that is given to the super coffee giant is that if you are going to print out cups that we are not happy with, we will still continue to drink out of them, as we are addicted to your coffee, and despite not being happy with the packaging, we will return regardless, as the coffee is spot-on.

Boycott or Keep Sipping


Starbucks may seem to have gotten everything wrong in terms of pleasing the consumer, but it doesn’t seem to have negatively effected their sales.

In fact, by creating such a controversial cup each year, all they have done is promote their sales and make sure that they will be a topic of interest.

Hell knows what Starbucks has on the design board for next year’s promo. If consumers are going to complain about cups, but carry on drinking from them, perhaps next year we can look forward to blue cups, or pink cups.

I wonder if the marketing staff behind the scenes knew exactly how the world would react to this launch. Each time we complain about the cup, Starbucks receives free publicity. Each time we blog about the cup, they are taking the internet by storm!

Starbucks CEO, take note–perhaps it’s time to listen to the needs of Christian coffee drinkers, or you may lose them to one of your many coffee competitors! Perhaps it’s time to stand together and bypass the chain once and for all, to call for a full-blown Merry Christmas and Santa picture, to stand in the streets with our Christmas red banner held high!

Or we can just be quiet, and enjoy our decaf soy mocha frappe lattes.

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