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Starbucks’ 2017–2018 holiday cup

| Monday, November 6, 2017

Starbucks holiday cups arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 1, exactly 55 days before Christmas. As a Starbucks lover and holiday fanatic, I ignored the blatant commercialization of Christmas and extremely early timing to grab a holiday cup for myself as soon as possible.

While I know Starbucks cups are certainly not the most important aspect of Christmas, I do think it’s exciting to see what the design will be each year. There’s a lot of anticipation, and they signal the start of holiday drinks, which just taste so good. So yes, I do get excited for Starbucks holiday cups.

In the past, Starbucks has received a lot of criticism and praise for their holiday cups. Two years ago, the design was very simple: solid red. It lacked the typical snowflakes or ornaments the cups normally have for a more minimalistic design. As someone whose Christmas is not defined by the design of their coffee cup, I thought nothing of it. In fact, I liked the overall clean look of the cups. Other people, however, felt slightly disappointed in Starbucks. What’s Christmas without a snowflake? How could Starbucks, a secular corporation, be so anti-holiday?

Apparently, paper coffee cups at Christmastime are important.

That said, last year’s cups looked absolutely gorgeous and received rave reviews. Instead of one design, there were several, each created by a Starbucks fan. They all looked fun and whimsical, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t always slightly excited to see which cup I’d get when I ordered a peppermint mocha. It was something different every time and it made my Target runs extra special.

So, on Nov. 1 this year, I stopped by Starbucks to have a good look at the cup. This year, the cup is actually more white than red. Black outlines show two hands holding cups colored in red, along with presents, snowflakes and other holiday paraphernalia, some of which have red details. 

While I’m not particularly fond of the cups (they’re a little busy for my aesthetic), I do have to applaud Starbucks on this public relations choice. After 2015’s cup fail, they saw popularity with taking customer designs. Capitalizing on 2016’s win, Starbucks is now making it possible for all cups to be one-of-a-kind. They saw what was successful last year, and altered it just enough to continue the success.

Plus, their hope is that customers will color in their cups and showcase them on social media. User-generated content is the epitome of social media campaigns right now. Just look at any Sheetz or WaWa feed. Asking customers to post about their experiences online creates conversation, helps spread the word about products, and increase a brand’s following. Everyone wants their image to be the one retweeted by the company, creating a viral social media trend. It’s quite a smart move from a social media analytics standpoint.

While this year’s cups aren’t the prettiest, they are the savviest. Good thinking, Starbucks.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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