Some conservatives believe those hands on the cup belong to lesbians, and they aren’t happy.
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.”
I miss the 2015 War On Christmas cups from starbucks pic.twitter.com/fMsA2rJTCa
— best praxises (@lil_discourse) December 24, 2016\n
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?
#BoycottStarbucks or it could just be 2 sisters holding hands and celebrating family. but lets jump to conclusions.— Rhondeisha (@AshPh) November 17, 2017\n
Like clockwork, the cup inspired another round of #BoycottStarbucks tweets on social media.
SO YOU WANT TO BE DISGUSTING ABOUT POLITICS & SEXUALITY IN FRONT OF KIDS NOW? NOW I MUST #BoycottStarbucks I CAN'T SUPPORT THIS WITH MY MONEY! COFFEBEAN OR PETES COFFEE FROM NOW ON! Left mocks conservative outrage over Starbucks holiday cup https://t.co/S1kLDom3J5— Dana Ceballos (@danaceballos8) November 19, 2017\n
Enjoy your Starbucks with yet another dig at traditional values. Jobs to refugees, Christmas without Christ. Shades of grey with every sip. I just want some coffee I can drink without choking on someone else's opinion. #BoycottStarbuckspic.twitter.com/VAOSfzQ6Hf— The Truth Ninja (@Rebelocracy) November 19, 2017\n
Just ANOTHER reason to #BoycottStarbucks I stopped giving this place my money 3 years ago!— KENNEDY (@KENNEDY__FOX) November 17, 2017\n
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.