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#MerryChristmasStarbucks - Customers Outraged with Festive Campaign

What's the first thing you think of when I say Christmas? If the answer was 'Starbucks', then frankly you should be ashamed of yourself. Alright, I concede that it's highly unlikely that anyone actually directly associates overpriced coffee with Christmas above and beyond anything else, but like Coca-Cola before them, the company has become a mainstay in festive advertising, despite the fact that their trade has literally nothing to do with Christmas.

Unlike Coca-Cola, this year Starbucks are fielding some pretty vicious backlash against their flagship ad/social media campaign. 'But why?' I hear you ask. Did they make Bob Cratchit work on Christmas day? Did they start redesigning their storefronts to feature burning effigies of Christ himself? Did they claim that Santa wasn't real? Are they seasoning lattes with butchered reindeer innards? Did they say that Elf was overrated? No, but judging from the way people have been reacting, it was 10,000 times worse than any of those things.

Since 1997, Starbucks have been featuring limited edition Christmas cups in the run up to the holiday. The designs have varied a great deal in that time, but this time around they decided to adopt a minimalist approach and simply use cups coloured in an appropriately jolly shade of Coke Santa red. How. Very. Dare they. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Still confused? Let me break it down.

Every previous year (or at least most of them), the cups have featured some semblance of Christmas imagery on them, be it the tree, the star, or whatever else. By eschewing all of those things, Starbucks have committed the coffee-based equivalent of handing out mince pies without any mincemeat in them, perhaps instead filled with acid, spiders and a note from your mother saying that she never loved you. At least, this is the impression you get when you watch the video which has sparked the retaliatory hashtag campaign.

The irate customer in question is a gentleman named Joshua Feuerstein, and as he explains in the video, he was so darn mad at Starbucks for only gently pushing Christmas down our throats this year, instead of shoving it down there like a fistful of stuffing into a particularly tight turkey carcass like all the other multi-million dollar corporations are doing, that he decided to fight back.

He went into Starbucks draped in his favourite Jesus t-shirt, ordered a vente macchiato with extra furious, and gave his name as 'Merry Christmas'. He also brought his gun into the store with him, allegedly just to exercise his right to do so, but I fear he might have planned on using it if his bizarre demands weren't met. He's now encouraging other, similarly angry customers to follow his example, and judging from the 14 million views, half a million shares and the explosion of images attached to the #MerryChristmasStarbucks banner on Twitter, it's working.

Feuerstein's argument is that Starbucks have yielded to 'political correctness', and that they've joined the 'War on Christmas', intended to siphon all of the religious meaning out of the holiday. This rationale seems to completely disregard the fact that Starbucks are actually sporting a range of other Christmas products on offer which aren't quite so understated. More to the point, the idea of getting the staff to daub 'Merry Christmas' across the cup in order to counteract this devilish attack on the best holiday in the world ever seems to be based on the notion that Starbucks have featured such a message on their cups in the past. As it turns out, they never have.


Regardless of the campaign's accuracy, legitimacy, or sanity, it's taken off in a massive way. Even Donald Trump has commented on it, although he says he ultimately 'doesn't care'. He did however assert that everyone will be saying 'Merry Christmas' if he becomes president, which reminded me a little too much of the Simpsons Halloween episode in which Ned Flanders commanded a 1984 style dystopia in which everyone had to smile constantly.

There has been a fair amount of push back by people maintaining that it's pointless/redundant to characterise the company as a giant, corporate Grinch hell-bent on destroying all that's good and great in the world. A particularly aggressive Facebook rant has received a fair amount of attention and #Itsjustacup has been trending on both Twitter and Instagram.

The fact remains though that Starbucks almost certainly aren't going to change the design. In fact, they're now actively encouraging customers to write and draw designs on them and then share them on social media, which is certainly a novel way of turning bile into positive PR. It's not going to satisfy the backlashers though, which means that they've definitely ruined Christmas in the eyes of many, but, and I'm just going out on a limb here, if a little red cup was all it took to ruin your Christmas, it was probably going to end up ruined anyway.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#MerryChristmasStarbucks - Customers Outraged with Festive Campaign Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, November 12, 2015 Rating: 5

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