Earlier this week, Starbucks began serving its seasonal holiday drinks in new green cups that were meant to promote a message of unity. But the cups are having the opposite effect, causing an uproar among some customers who are accusing the coffee chain of “political brainwashing.”
On Tuesday, a week before Election Day, Starbucks rolled out the green cups that feature an illustration by Shogo Ota showing the faces of more than a hundred people, drawn with a single continuous line.
“During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement.
On social media, responses were mixed.
Some people saw the green cup as a distinctly political act.
Starbucks gets rid of Christmas colour, replaces with Islamic colour, all in the name of “unity”. Get used to this. https://t.co/Of3FhK8ZBg
— Anne Marie Waters (@AMDWaters) November 2, 2016
Some Twitter users were connecting the green cups to Hillary Clinton, who Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has endorsed for president.
— Brexit_Briton (@ABrexitBriton) November 2, 2016
On Wednesday, the conservative web aggregator Drudge Report linked to a news article about the backlash, using the headline “Calls To Boycott STARBUCKS Over Holiday ‘Unity Cup’ Showing Liberal Bias.” Drudge’s headline, which went out on Twitter, elicited more negative responses.
A barista at a Manhattan Starbucks told Business Insider that people wouldn’t stop complaining to him about the new cups.
“We have new cups coming next week,” he said, referring to Starbucks’ famous red holiday cups.
The green Starbucks cups launched on the same day that Starbucks reintroduced its lineup of holiday beverages, which includes a Caramel Brulée Latte and a Chestnut Praline Latte. In years’ past, Starbucks has launched its red holiday cups on the day holiday drinks returned to the menu.
Last year, Starbucks faced backlash when the company debuted minimalist red cups that weren’t as “Christmas-y” as usual. After evangelist and internet personality Joshua Feuerstein posted a video on Facebook protesting the cups, the outrage — and outrage at the outrage — quickly grew, with hundreds sharing their views on social media.
The supposed outrage did little to impact the chain. Starbucks had “by far” the strongest holiday in its history, CEO Howard Schultz said in a company earnings call in January.
Whether you love the green cup or hate it, it isn’t going to be around for long. A different, red design has already been shipped to locations across the US, and will begin being utilised some time around November 10 — after the election is over.