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More Criticism for Starbucks' Coffee Cup

TempStarbucks' coffee cup isn't spared another year of criticism. In 2015, Donald Trump, before he was president, said the company participated in a "War on Christmas" because its cup was a solid red color with no Christmas symbols.

This year, the company is accused of having a "gay agenda." At one point during the promotional video, two women have their hands on a cup and are looking at each other. A company spokesperson said, "This year’s hand-drawn cup features scenes of celebrating with loved ones—whoever they may be. We intentionally designed the cup so our customers can interpret it in their own way, adding their own color and illustrations."

A compilation of Starbucks Christmas coffee cups shows an interesting history. The first holiday cups, in 1997, were in four colors, none of which were red. Also, although this year's cup is identified as "not red," many of the drawings are red.

Starbucks is no stranger to controversy. During the political firestorm earlier this year, CEO Howard Schultz promised to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022.

Discussion:

  • How do you interpret the coffee cup? What does it mean to you? Do you think Starbucks is trying to promote a "gay agenda"?
  • This may be another example of "brand activism." Should Starbucks stay out of the fray or take a stand on some issues? What are the advantages and downsides of each approach?