Starbucks: The Message Behind the Cup



Every year many of us look forward to the festive treats that Starbucks create. Toffee Nut Latte, Egg Nog Latte, Fudge Hot Chocolate, and of course the classic Gingerbread Latte. Christmassy cups have donned Starbucks drinks for years, but this year has perked the interest of many around the world. The notion behind the cup, which contains festive doodles, enables people to add their own colour, making each one unique. The presence of gifts, baubles, trees and snowflakes all add to the festive vibe, however the main point of interest is a pair of hands.



Yep, you heard me right (well, read right), a pair of hands is a point of controversy for many at the moment (welcome to 2017). The intertwined hands portrayed on the cup, are said to be gender neutral, and here we have the cause of the uproar. The video advertisement, takes this idea a step further, demonstrating a lesbian couple with Starbucks holding hands. The British LGBTQ Awards tweeted their approval of the ad, although Starbucks have neither confirmed nor denied the message behind the cup. Buzz feed have coined the advert to have a ‘Gay Agenda’, the thing that is really annoying me is, why is it an issue?


In this day and age, the era of Ru Paul, gender fluidity and acceptance, why has a lesbian couple in advertising caused so much drama? The New York Times seems to think it is a silent culture war that takes place over the holidays between religion and liberalism, and their roles in society. The hands are not the first expression made by Starbucks that have caused a stir. The classic red cup was also a statement made by the brand, demonstrating that everyone’s Christmas is a unique experience, we don’t all have a Christmas tree, and it has different meanings for each individual. The red cups were used to promote this sense of individuality and diversity.

Starbucks Holiday Cup Causes Online Controversy

Although Christmas pulling away from religion can be shown as a bad thing, for example it becoming a month of marketing mayhem, may be this separation is a good thing. Introducing diversity and equality to the festive season is a step in the right direction. I think the New York Times’ account places a negative spotlight on the good work that Starbucks is doing, (even if they won’t admit it) using words such as ‘allegation’, it makes the whole thing sound illegal, and I’m happy to say that we aren’t in the 50’s and 60s anymore. Being Gay in today’s culture is normal for many people.


However, stripping out religion is not just in coffee a cup, even D.J. Trump complains about the loss of religion surrounding the festive period. Whining that we shouldn’t say happy holidays, what happened to Merry Christmas! Personally, I feel that both the phrase and the cups are inclusive, even a Tesco advert including a Muslim family, 2017’s festive campaigns have really struck me as inclusive. They promote less separation in society, and importantly LGBTQ rights.


The message of Christmas is one of value; we value our friends, family and accept one another. We appreciate each other. Although for many Christmas has a deeply religious meaning, in the ever changing world of 2017, where religion its losing its grip, it seems a new message has been intertwined this holiday season, equality and inclusivity. If I’m honest that’ll do for me.

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