Merry Christmas, Starbucks!

Merry Christmas, Starbucks!


You truly never know what seemingly harmless business move might result in a social media firestorm.

Starbucks in the US is well-known for replacing its usual coffee cups with red ones over the Festive Season. Red, after all, is the colour most closely associated with Christmas.

In the past, these cups have been decorated with items such as Christmas tree ornaments, snowflakes, snowmen and reindeer. Last year, however, the cups were red but unadorned, which has resulted in Starbucks receiving a surprising amount of flak.

It all started when self-proclaimed ‘American evangelist, Internet, and social media personality’ Joshua Feuerstein posted a video online stating the following:

“Do you realise that Starbucks wanted to take Christ, and Christmas, off of their brand-new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.”

It’s important to note that these cups have never been overtly ‘Christian’ in nature — they had simply sported innocuous Christmas decorations, so one wouldn’t have expected Feuerstein’s complaint to gain much traction.

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But it has. At the time of writing (less than a week after it had been posted), his video had been viewed 15 million times.

Feuerstein has a strong Christian following online, and he has managed to mobilise a large number of his followers, creating a massive storm in a coffee cup that’s undoubtedly causing massive headaches for Starbucks’ management team.

Even Donald Trump chimed in while on the campaign trail. “I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t care. That’s the end of that lease, but who cares? If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you.”

GG van Rooyen
GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.