It’s that time of the year again. In early November, Starbucks introduced its 2020 series of holiday cups, with the enticement of a “free” collectible cup when ordering a holiday drink.
This year’s cup theme is “Carry the Merry.” Starbucks explained in a press release that “This year’s holiday design brings forward all the joyful elements of the holiday season in ribbons of Starbucks greens and a jolly red like a cozy holiday sweater.” Each of the cups has a name, Ribbon, Dot, Sparkle, and Brand Wrap.
Some may remember that previous years’ cups had their share of controversy and debate. In 2015, many felt the plain red holiday cup did not sufficiently evoke the holidays, particularly Christmas. In 2016, Starbucks featured a green holiday cup with “a mosaic of more than a hundred people, drawn in one continuous stroke” – “a symbol of unity,” according to then Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. This also drew criticism from some corners, as did the 2017 cup which had a white background and encouraged people to draw in their own colors and illustrations.
Since then, Starbucks has been playing it safe, creating cups that are decidedly holiday-spirited, but in a non-sectarian manner that uses graphics to evoke a mood. In both 2019 and 2020, “merry” is a key theme. This year, particularly, the company is focused on being a respite from everything going on, “that beacon for people, a brief moment that they can look forward to.” That’s a brand message that all can embrace!