Thursday, November 12, 2015

Red Starbucks cup, I fill you up…

I’m not a coffee drinker to begin with, and I don’t really like the smell of Starbuck’s coffee, so I don’t spend a lot of time there.

That said, I occasionally meet a friend at the one that’s about a 30 second walk from my house. And, during my reno – which, up until Tuesday – was toilet-less, I did drop in a couple of times to use their loo when I paid one of my regular visits to my worksite. And I generally felt obliged to buy something for the privilege of standing in line with a bunch of tourists and doing my thing in a none-too-clean (but not completely putrid) public facility.

So I’m not all that familiar with their annual starbuck's cupChristmas (or Winter Holiday or Whatever) cup. I understand that they are fairly neutral – snowflakes and small town winter scenes.No cup of Joe proffered by the Magis. No shepherds watching their flocks by night while sipping a venti. No Holy Family stopping at a Starbucks. Not even anything as Christmas-y as Santa Claus. What they have in common is that they’re red (and green, given the Starbuck’s logo) and holiday-ish. As in this reindeer number.

But Starbucks decision this year to go the minimalist red solo cup route is causing a tempest in a teapot 2015 red cupcoffeepot, and some red-staters are seeing red, viewing what appears to be an aesthetic decision as part of the War on Christmas.

It seems to me that preserving the red cup theme – red and green being the colors, however secular and pagan in origin, that are associated with Christmas – suggests that they’re hewing to a general holiday, leaning-towards-Christmas theme. And the company, by the way, is selling a Christmas blend coffee that’s called – get this – Christmas Blend. They also sell – get this – an Advent Calendar, and even though plenty of secularists no doubt use an Advent Calendar without giving it a second thought (or lighting purple and pink candles on their Advent wreathe), there’s no getting around the fact that an Advent Calendar is an Advent Calendar. And you can get a Starbucks gift card that says – get this – Merry Christmas.

With all this Christmas-related “stuff”, and with their longstanding practice of having a red cup in winter, Starbucks has shown, yet again, that they’re pretty darned good at marketing. Starbuck-ianados, apparently, look forward to the cups and the whatevers each year, collect them, cherish them…And given the dark and gloom that plagues the Northern Hemisphere in December, it’s nice to see something cheery and red. (I won’t get into the fact that the doom and gloom of December is a big reason why we actually celebrate Christmas at the most wonderful time of the year.)

And yet there’s all this faux outrage, with some calling for a Starbuck boycott, and others insisting that the name that gets scrawled on their cup must be “Merry Christmas.” (Look for misspellings here: Mary Krissmiss to you.) At least one person’s taking it further. He’s both insisting on getting Merry Christmas written on his cup, and on coming in armed, despite Starbuck’s decision to make their stores gun-free zones. Nothing says spirit of the season of hope and peace like a Merry Christmas yammering hoplophile.*

Makes me want to go into my local and get me one of those red cups. Fill ‘er up!

*When I first saw the word “hoplophile”, which was quite recently, I at first thought it was a reference to Hopalong Cassidy, iconic cowboy character of yesteryear. Instead – alas – it means someone in love, love, love with firearms.


valerie said...

I've added two things I know to come up with a working theory on this tempest: 1.)Starbucks marketing machine is genius plus 2.) I don't know one single Christian who thinks those cups are anything but lovely = The very real possibility that Starbucks designed the "outrage" every bit as much as it designed the cups.

Maureen Rogers said...

On one level, that would demonstrate Starbucks' marketing genius. On the other hand, it seems pretty risky to do something that, while it might increase sales will also foment further divisiveness in a society that doesn't really need it...

An interesting theory, none-the-less...