Did the Grinch steal Starbucks’ Christmas?

By Posted in - Marketing & Restaurant PR + Hospitality PR on November 12th, 2015

Christmas comes with snow flinging. Christmas comes with children singing. Christmas comes with little elves. Is Christmas leaving Starbucks’ shelves?

As Thanksgiving nears, companies are ramping up for the Christmas season. There is a plethora of brands that change their marketing efforts to appeal to customers in different seasons, and there are certain brands that take it to the next level–like Starbucks and its iconic red holiday-themed cup.

The facts behind the holiday cups

Since 1997, Starbucks’ holiday-themed cup has created countdowns to the release date around the world. The Starbucks cup signifies the official start of the season and serves as a symbol for Christmas. But with the 2015 switch to plain red cups, critics are lashing out at Starbucks on social media, stating that the brand shift is a “war on Christianity.” But does the shift in marketing harm or enhance the company’s brand? Here are a few reasons I think the new holiday design is here to stay:

Big ideas work

Big ideas are more important than ever. Although it seems harsh to consumers, Starbucks didn’t badger us with TV commercials or any media relations efforts about the new cup. Most big ideas tug at the emotions of the consumer. I think Starbucks used this to its advantage. Although there is negative backlash on social media, the big idea of the cup change is grabbing all of the attention and keeping Starbucks relevant in conversation.

Keeping the details secret

Starbucks vice president Jeffrey Fields explained that the company “wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” According to USA Today, it is also rumored that the plain character of the cup offers customers the opportunity to create their own holiday designs on the cups.

Engaging the consumer

Consumers can be a source of great thinking and ideas. The new cup allows for creativity and a sense of community with its customers, an opportunity for them to write their own message and share it on social media. Free marketing and community relations? I say yes.

What do you think? Do the red cups help or hurt Starbucks’ holiday brand? Are you planning to play Picasso with the new cups? Follow Clairemont on Twitter, and send us your thoughts!

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