Change in Starbucks marketing causes discomfort around the holiday season


Christine Weeks, Contributing Writer

Recently, the public has been angered by the lack of Christmas and holiday spirit promoted by Starbucks’ annual holiday cups, anxiously awaited by many people. The new 2016 Starbucks cup has the public up in arms and has left America divided. This is ironic given that the cup is meant to promote unity at a time when America may need it most, especially as the recent election drives Americans even further apart. However, the green “unity cup” caused all of this buzz only because people believed it was a replacement of their beloved, red holiday cup. In reality, it was a temporary cup meant to evoke this symbol of unity before releasing the real holiday cups, which many feel still further exclusivity by only acknowledging Christians.

The new unity cup, if you haven’t yet seen it, is a bright green and white cup. It is simple, but upon closer look, the cup is a series of diverse characters all drawn in a continuous line. The cup was not by any means meant to cause a mass uproar, but was rather meant to promote a sense of peace and unity.

Interestingly, there seems to be an alternate intention behind the cups; following the controversial outcome of a presidential election that has driven a wedge between Americans, the cup serves to bridge this divide and unite Americans instead. While some love the message behind the cups, others may openly scoff at their usual morning coffee, perhaps wondering when their coffee cups became a political agenda. However, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz explained that the cups should not be mistaken for holiday cups.

Promoting political messages is not an unusual tactic of Schultz. Avid Starbucks customers are sure to remember past years, when the cups were used as vehicles for social change. According to the New York Post, employees in Washington have been encouraged to scribble messages such as “come together” on cups to promote peace and unity. Schultz has often taken advantage of opportune moments like this.

As a result of recent disputes, Schultz has been prodded to answer a few questions. After being interviewed about the cups, Schultz said that these were not to be deemed “holiday” cups. Lately, the real holiday cups are in stores now and the green unity cups are out of sight.

In the midst of America’s social divide following the election results, no matter which party one may side with, Schultz’s attempt to promote a symbol of unity is one I can respect. While typically I am a total advocate for freedom of speech, I tend to dislike mixing politics with what I choose to consume. In this case, I am in full support of the message the unity cups hold. In the end, it did not take away from anyone’s holiday spirit; Schultz’s statement was merely another attempt to finally come together as a nation, even if only as drawings on a cup.

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