Starbucks isn't seeing red over Trump's #RedCups threat

The coffee chain told PRWeek on Wednesday that it won't get into a back-and-forth with the 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

Starbucks has come under criticism this year for not adding seasonal decorations to its red cups. Previous designs, like the one above, were adorned with symbols of Christmas and winter.
Starbucks has come under criticism this year for not adding seasonal decorations to its red cups. Previous designs, like the one above, were adorned with symbols of Christmas and winter.

For those hoping to see a fiery showdown between outspoken Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Starbucks, we have some bad news: the ubiquitous coffee chain told PRWeek on Wednesday that it will not respond to Trump’s call for a boycott of its products.

Starbucks has been under fire from conservative groups since it revealed its red holiday cup design at the start of November. The coffee chain has used the red cups to market and usher in its special holiday flavors and products. However, this year’s design doesn’t have any Christmas imagery, a decision that has angered some Christians and conservative political commentators and figures, including Trump.

(The fact that Starbucks has been promoting Christmas-themed products like Advent calendars and its seasonal Christmas Blend has not deflected claims it has joined the "War on Christmas.")

Trump told supporters at a campaign rally on Monday that although there is a Starbucks located in Trump Tower, "maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously, I don't care. By the way, that's the end of that lease, but who cares?" He also said there was "no more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks."

Yet unlike companies such as dating site Tinder, which responded to criticism from Vanity Fair with a furious tweet-storm in August, Starbucks is staying above the fray.

"We have not, nor will we" respond to Trump, Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications at Starbucks, said in an email on Wednesday. Instead, he provided links to Starbucks press releases that showed off his company’ Christmas spirit.

The chain’s reserved response makes sense. As Forbes analyst Katie Sola wrote on Monday, the controversy "likely won’t hurt Starbucks’ brand in the long run." And as the Tinder situation proved, sometimes a bombastic, spur-of-the-moment response can bring ridicule to a brand.

Plus, Twitter users and celebrities have stepped in to defend the unadorned red cups and mock their critics. The Twitter hashtag #ItsJustACup began trending on Tuesday and gained support through Wednesday.

One of the most amusing tweets to emerge from the controversy was from satirical musician and voice actor "Weird" Al Yankovic, who constructed a devilishly creative parody cup.

Top image via Jennifer Hughes / Flickr; used under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. Cropped from original.

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