NEW YORK — It’s as red as Santa’s suit, a poinsettia or your neighbor’s ugly Christmas sweater. Yet Starbucks’ stark new holiday coffee cup has set off complaints that the chain is making war on Christmas.
The outcry — which gained in intensity after Donald Trump suggested boycotting the coffee chain — illustrates the fine line companies must walk during the all-important holiday season: They want to stand out from their competitors, but not go so far as to offend or unsettle.
“The challenge is that the holiday language is same for everything,” said Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting. “Everyone does it, so how do you do it in a way that’s distinctive? If you push too far with distinctiveness, you might end up ruffling feathers.”
Since 1997, Starbucks has offered holiday drinks in a festive red cup, adorned with such things as Christmas ornaments, reindeer and snowflakes. This year’s design is minimalist: vivid red, with nothing but the familiar green Starbucks logo.