Tracy Lee Curtis

Starbucks, what cup is this?

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Finally. Starbucks has implemented something easy. After years of convoluted campaigns and branding backfires, they have managed to simplify the most arduous holiday season by introducing their new holiday design …

A plain red cup. Let us rejoice.

No snowflakes, no reindeer, no winking snowman. No shoppers, skaters or carolers. Just the signature Christmas color of red. A nice change from – well – their signature Christmas color of green.

But some religious conservatives have expressed anger over the coffee company’s minimalist design. Like, it lacks Christmas. Really? The place where someone can order a Quad venti half caf breve no foam with whip two Splenda stirred skinny three-pump peppermint mocha? You wanna complicate the cup too?

Like Starbucks really needs more hassle. When they started serving beer and wine, I wrote about the dangers of worlds colliding. You go to Starbucks for your coffee. Not to party, not to catch a buzz and not to meet your blind date. It’s a place to wake and stimulate your brain. Not kill brain cells.

And then there was the disastrous campaign encouraging baristas to write “Race Together” on cups, and strike up conversations about racial issues with customers. And I had to ask: When does the barista have time to chat? Somewhere between “Good morning, may I take your order and do you want room for cream?” and her trying to spell your name, check the boxes, scribble the flavor, write the slogan, all while making correct change?

But this time, they’re shooting for simplicity. And they state that their new red cups mimic a blank canvas for customers to create their own stories.

And I think there’s a great story here. It’s like an angel came down and miraculously conceived a simple idea by the power of the Christmas spirit. And out of it was born a completely uncomplicated coffee cup. Just a single cup, wrapped in a swaddling sleeve. A gift from the heavens for us to celebrate, as it warms our coffee – our saving grace, sure to save the world.

So how about a little gratitude for the wise men who finally came up with a wondrous plan? And who continue to shower us with gifts of pastries, CDs and gum?

And all you patrons who sheepishly flock to the café: How about a hallelujah for the employees who shepherd us through the system, guiding us through the ordering process, keeping watch over us, as they herd us to the pickup counter?

And may we thank the North Star that Starbucks is just offering us a clean slate? If we can just accept that, maybe all would be forgiven. For all eternity.

Anyway, we better get our brains around this. It’s a red cup, for heaven’s sake. We’re gonna see it again.

Just wait ’til Valentine’s Day.

Curtis: tracy@tracyleecurtis.com

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