Each November, it’s not a chill in the air or a changing of the leaves or a sale on winter coats that signals the start to the holiday season: It’s the first sighting of Starbucks’ red cup. A tradition that goes back 19 years, Starbucks’ holiday cups are beloved by Starbucks fans across the country. They are collected, they are fought over, they spark controversy, and yet, they are but a utilitarian object, a vehicle for caffeine intake, meant to be disposed. And today, November 10, 2016 — a full day after America elected its 45th president — this year’s red cups are here.
So as to appease previous years’ upsets about the cups being not "festive" or "Christmas-y" enough, this year’s official red holiday cups are, yes, red — that green cup was just there to throw us off — and feature a variety of wintery designs including snowflakes, wreaths, poinsettia, snowy tree scenes, reindeer, ornaments, and Christmas tree lights. President-elect Donald Trump, who famously threatened to boycott Starbucks over its cup design last year because it was not festive enough, can take heart in knowing that at least at Starbucks, Christmas is alive and well. There shall be no mention of Hanukkah or "happy holidays" or any other December holiday at Starbucks, people — it’s Christmas or bust.
A major departure from years’ past, this year’s Starbucks red cup is actually a collection: 13 different designs appear on the cups, so, like Pokémon, get ready to catch ‘em all.
Why 13 different cups? All year round Starbucks’ customers like doodling on Starbucks’ white cups. Starbucks once even held a cup design contest. So this year, in looking for the right holiday design — and looking to appease a mad populace — the marketing team crowdsourced its red cup design. (Of note: only 12 designs appear on red paper cups, the 13th, a wreath, appears on a plastic cup for cold drinks.)
Last year’s controversial, plain red ombre cup was the basis for this design challenge. When people began posting their cup designs on social media last December, Starbucks took note. "We were surprised and inspired by the amount of incredible art submitted by our customers. The designs were beautiful, expressive and engaging," Dena Blevins, creative director, Starbucks Global Creative Studio said in a release. "We quickly realized there was potential to use the customer-created art for our holiday cups." Blevins did not say, "and we figured if the design came from the people, they couldn’t get mad at us."
1,200 designs were submitted on Instagram in 13 different countries; Starbucks’ marketing team picked 13 designs from six countries. The designs appear on this year’s red cups, which will be used at over 25,000 Starbucks stores in 75 countries.
- Snowflake Sweater Designer: Alisa: St. Petersburg, Russia
- Woodland Deer Designer: Samantha: Broomall, Pennsylvania, United States
- Sleigh Ride Designer: Eun Joo: Daejeon, South Korea
- Ornaments Designer: Anz Soza: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Poinsettia Designer: Christina: Bakersfield, California, United States
- Holiday Lights Designer: Maria Lauren: New York City, United States
- Love and Joy Designer: Anna: Toronto, Canada
- Candy Canes Designer: Jennifer: Seattle, United States
- Evergreen Forest Designer: Bronwyn: Moscow, Idaho, United States
- Graphic Swirls Designer: Erica: Markham, Ontario, Canada
- Birch Forest Designer: Chloe: Plainfield, Illinois, United States
- Birds and Flowers Designer: Florencia: Bandung, Indonesia
- Wooden Wreath Designer: Tracy: Los Angeles, United States
Starbucks global chief marketing officer Sharon Rothstein wrote in a release, "We hope that this year’s red holiday cup designs express the shared spirit of the holidays as told by our customers." She did not add, "Please don’t hate us this year."