Starbucks red cups cause controversy on social media

The annual reveal of its “red cup” is meant to signify that the holiday season is approaching, instead it’s stirring up some disagreement.

One thing that keeps the spirits bright and alive with a little hint of warmth on this year’s holiday season are the much anticipated Starbucks holiday cups that were released on Nov. 1.

However, people all over social media are responding to criticism that Starbucks is waging a war on Christmas with its plain red holiday cup containing a simple message: #ItsJustACup.

This year Starbucks went with the sleek, simple, yet sophisticated look with just a plain red cup with the usual white and green Starbucks logo, but just as red lipstick draws stares and glances; these simple yet bold cups have brought much controversy and debate more than Starbucks could have imagine.

The annual reveal of its “red cup” is meant to signify that the holiday season is approaching, instead it’s stirring up some disagreement. In less than five days, the red cup issue became one of the top stories in the country.

Even though any and all publicity is a good thing, the blank valiant red cups has placed Starbucks as a hot top trending topic and has stirred this year’s holiday tradition into political and religious discuss.

Starbucks creative minds decided to leave the cups blank to allow consumers the opportunity to decorate their cups according to their choosing. Just as unique as the concoctions patrons choose to fill the cups, customers have the chance to express their holiday spirit and joy on a simple blank canvas.

This year’s holiday cup design is simplistic: an ombre from bright red to dark cranberry. This issue has caused a controversy on social media sites such as Twitter with the trending topic “War on Christmas.” The disagreement has continued to brew as rival coffee shop Dunkin’ Donuts released its own holiday cup earlier this week. The Styrofoam cup features green holly leaves and the word “joy” written in red.

Starbucks, however maintains that its holiday cups were meant to be a blank canvas for customers to create their own stories, inspired by the doodles and designs that customers have drawn on white cups for years.

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups design,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks Vice President of Design & Content, in a statement.

Celebrities like Candace Cameron-Bure, Rob Lowe, Donald Trump, and even Ellen Degeneres have been giving their input on the debate and joked about having solutions for the red cups. But now singer Demi Lovato is the latest celebrity who caught wind of the crazy Starbucks controversy. She tweeted on social media: “Why doesn’t Starbucks at least make the cups about the actual season, also why do we care so much about a cup?,” she tweeted.

It seems we’re in a cultural debate over a red cup and even if Starbucks keeps the cheerfulness printed on it or not, our focus should be on larger issues.

Whether it be from the simple name on a cup to get you through the morning rush or the complex scene from a winter wonderland, to Santa dropping off gifts to waiting children on Christmas eve; the opportunities are endless when enjoying this year’s holiday season.

The iconic Christmas cup has featured several winter-themed designs since it first appeared in 1997. From modest snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer to a winking snowman and decorative ornaments, each year the design is unique and different from the last.

Starbucks cups over the years.
Starbucks cups over the years.

According to Google, there are now 9.2 million new stories on the “Starbucks red cup controversy.”

The fight over Starbucks cup actually begins with a man named Joshua Feuerstien and a viral video in which he claims that Starbucks can’t celebrate Christmas.

Feuerstien, describes himself as an “American evangelist, internet, and social media personalilty.” This video was shared more than 201,000 times and received more than 1.8 million likes on Facebook.

Regardless of whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or agnostic, we all live for memories. The funny thing is that a cup doesn’t need to express holiday cheer, similar to how everyone enjoys this time of the year in different ways.

Starbucks choosing to leave the famous cups blank is the smartest decision a diverse multi-national and cultural company can do to keep their customers under one lid and remind people that the holidays are not always about giving or receiving but being thankful that we are allow to enjoy a simple, yet complex hot coffee on a rainy cold winter day.

I think whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, it’s important to see beyond the symbols and the mainstream narrative. What you choose to believe is personal to you and a cup shouldn’t dictate or deters your celebration.

If the cup is red, purple, green, or decorated in Christmas design, the spirit of the holidays is within you, nobody else.