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Conservatives Are Mad At Starbucks Again For Its Holiday-Themed Cup

by Tod Perry

November 21, 2017

For the past 20 years, Starbucks has poured its hot coffee into winter-themed cups to celebrate the holiday season, and for the first 17 years, no one seemed to be offended. But in 2015, the coffee giant released a simplistic red cup, and conservatives bashed the company, claiming the Jesus-free design was an example of the fictional “War on Christmas.” 

In 2016, conservatives were up in arms again when Starbucks released a holiday cup with a unity theme to help quell the divisions caused by the of the 2016 election. “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,” the company said in a press release.

This inspired boycotts from Trump supporters who believed the company was politicizing its paper drinkware. But, the boycotts didn’t hurt sales. In fact, the coffee giant saw a sales surge during the cup controversy with revenue spiking 12%.

Now, conservatives are up in arms again over Starbucks’ 2017 holiday offering. The cup innocently features two hands clasping with a heart in between them. The cup was released alongside an animated video featuring people celebrating the holidays around the world and ends with two women holding hands in a loving embrace. Although it’s never clearly stated what the women’s relationship is, many conservatives are angry that they may be lesbians.

Now the question remains: Is Starbucks being inclusive or stoking controversy to sell coffee?

Like clockwork, the cup inspired another round of #BoycottStarbucks tweets on social media.

Starbucks hasn’t commented specifically on the controversy but instead has doubled-down on its commitment to inclusivity. “Each year during the holidays we aim to bring our customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season, and we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world,” a company spokesperson told CNBC.

While Starbucks isn’t exactly courting controversy with its marketing efforts, it isn’t avoiding it either. While politics and business are usually bad bed partners, The Motley Fool believes these cup controversies may help Starbucks in the long term. “Most of Starbucks’ U.S. stores are concentrated near major cities, which mostly supported Clinton in the election,” the financial site said, “and roughly half of its customer base is under the age of 40.” So, by taking a stake in the culture wars, Starbucks could be solidifying is consumer base for years to come. 

Share image via Starbucks/YouTube.

(Editor's Note: GOOD and Upworthy currently have a business relationship with Starbucks to produce and promote stories of ordinary people making extraordinary changes in their communities as part of an Upworthy Collaboration. This article is not part of that partnership.)

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