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In Defense of a Brand (aka, The Red Cup Is Not Stealing Christmas)

I’ve heard so much about the supposed Starbucks “Christmas Cup Controversy” that I decided to do a little first-hand investigation. In former years, the eagerly anticipated Starbucks red cup for the holidays had some additional graphics on it – ornaments, snowflakes, etc. Nothing particularly religious, mind you, but festive. This year, the coffee giant decided to embrace simplicity, stating something to the effect of wanting to offer a bit of respite among the craziness that can accompany this time of year. That seemed completely reasonable to me – so I was shocked when all of this cup controversy broke out. At first, I chalked it up to one YouTube video that would soon go away. Then, however, I saw people I respect posting about their boycotting of Starbucks – saying that Starbucks had taken Christmas away. What???

Aside from the fact that the cup is red with a green logo on it – traditional Christmas colors, I believe – the stores I investigated were filled with holiday touches. From the music they were playing to:

Christmas Blend Coffee – available for purchase in bags…

…and freshly brewed, where I heard people requesting and being served drinks that contained the word Christmas. (That hardly seems like Starbucks is being Grinchy…)

Advent calendars in the shape of Christmas trees were also featured prominently, for those wishing to integrate their favorite coffee brand with their religious celebration:

Ornaments are also available, should you wish to hang some Seattle-based branding from your Christmas tree:

The brand also included some non-denominational tastes of the season, like Gingerbread Loaf and Frosted Snowman Cookies. There’s even a new offering inspired by the all-American holiday: the Thanksgiving Day panini:

And just in case you weren’t satisfied with any of these offerings, a bevy of gift cards at the register captures more ways to give your own special wintry gift message – from a simple “Joy” to the innocuous “Happy Holidays” to the full-on “Merry Christmas.”

I really didn’t want to post about this. I feel like this ridiculous situation has gotten enough press already. But after visiting the stores, I felt that I had to speak out in defense of Starbucks. Now when I hear anyone try to argue that Starbucks has made a misstep, I will have to “ho ho ho” in their face.

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency


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