Starbucks’ Green ‘Unity’ Cups Spark Controversy Before Election
No brand is immune to a PR crisis in the age of social media. These days, even the most well intended PR initiatives can land a company in hot water.
This Tuesday, Seattle’s coffee giant Starbucks rolled out its new green coffee cup design, and faced an immediate backlash on social media.
The so-called “unity” cup features a diverse collection of more than a hundred people’s faces – all drawn in a single stroke by artist Shogo Ota. Amid the highly polarizing U.S. presidential election, Starbucks thought its green cups could help bring people together.
“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,” said company chairman and CEO Howard Schultz.
Unfortunately for Starbucks, some of its customers didn’t share its vision and even threatened to boycott the company, accusing it of being politically biased in a slew of angry Twitter posts.
However, battling PR crises following the release of its new cup designs is nothing new for Starbucks. Last year, the coffee giant faced criticism from religious groups after the company released its red Christmas-themed cups without traditional Christmas imagery.
As for this year’s controversy, it is likely to blow over as fast as it started. And as rumors floating on various social media have it, Starbucks is getting ready to unveil its 2016 holiday-themed red cups next week on November 10.
Something tells us, Starbucks’ PR department will be ready to handle whatever reaction the new cups will bring…