Red Cups, Christmas and New Containers of Brand Hate
“Out of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most,” Mark Twain said. I believe it. On Monday, I thought this brouhaha over the red Starbucks holiday cup would die a quick death. Then ratings machine Donald Trump weighed in with one of the weirder calls for a brand boycott I’ve ever seen.
"Maybe we should boycott Starbucks," Trump said, having reminded the crowd that the company is his tenant, as quoted by Jenna Johnson on Monday for The Washington Post. "I don't know. Seriously. I don't care. By the way: That's the end of that lease. But who cares? Who cares? Who cares?!"
Abortion coffee comes in red holiday cups, posts Joshua Feuerstein on Tuesday in a Facebook video that had 155,000 views that afternoon. Several such videos, hashtagged #merrychristmasstarbucks, reside on his Facebook Page, which has nearly 2 million fans.
In one of the calmer laments, laced with cynicism about marketing, Lisa McKay Wheatley wrote on the Starbucks Facebook Page, which has 36 million fans.
“Dear Starbucks, she types, “I am Christian, I don't drink coffee, and I don't like your hot chocolate. I don't care at all what color your cups are. Way to get free advertising! Now stop it.”
Here’s what markets may learn from Starbucks:
- If You Believe in What You’re Doing, Double Down. Starbucks announced the red cups on Nov. 1, then doubled down on the brand image choice on Nov. 8. “Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season,” according to the Nov. 8 brand statement. “Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”
Sometimes brand advocates like this stand, other times the campaign is “Race Together.” Starbucks let that one-week campaign, meant to prompt conversations about race among many minority baristas working for a company with predominantly white C-suite executives, end “right on schedule” in March 2015, according to NPR.
- Pay Attention to Your Brand Advocates. Instagram is filled with #redcupcontest photos posted by fans who may win gift cards. On the opposing side, Instagram doesn't seem as populated by the pictures snapped by #merrychristmasstarbucks fans, who are asking baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their red cups instead of customer names.
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