Starbucks Red Cup

Few things get me in the holiday spirit like a thick sweater, a chill in the air, and walking around with a cup of hot cocoa. The Dieline is headquartered here in Los Angeles where it stays pretty warm year-round, but one wintry thing is the same all over the world: Starbucks red cups. This year’s design features a bright red ombré design consisting of a poppy color on the top that fades to a dark cranberry on the bottom.

Jeffrey Fields, vice president of Design & Content at Starbucks mentions, “We have anchored the design with the classic Starbucks holiday red that is bright and exciting. The ombré creates a distinctive dimension, fluidity and weightedness.”

The Starbucks red cup tradition started in 1997, and is understandably a near and dear part of the holiday spirit for many. So much so, it seems that a bit of a controversy has sprung up surrounding this year’s design. An Arizona-based evangelist called out Starbucks on the lack of decorations on the cup, stating that the omission of a Christmas pattern implies that the company “hates Jesus.”

We here at The Dieline aren’t exactly sure how this thought process played out, since there truly is no logical path from point A to point B in the argument. However, it’s unfortunately garnered Starbucks a bit of bad publicity from those who expect the explicitly non-religious company to promote a Christian holiday.

So if you’re feeling confused, here is the truth: despite what you may have heard, Starbucks does openly celebrate Christian holidays, with the offerings of Christmas ornaments, an advent calendar, and even gift cards with “Merry Christmas” on them. However, Starbucks red cups have never been categorized as “Christmas” cups.

The bottom line is that the removal of a design is not at all to put a damper on the holidays or wage war on Christmas—it is to individualize the Starbucks experience for its guests. Peruse Instagram to find cups with doodled designs on them, which customers have enjoyed doing for years and a creative expression that Starbucks even promoted with a contest. This year’s cups invite customers to tell their own stories, using a simple red cup as a blank canvas.

Fields adds, “In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs. This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories. In the nearly two decades since the first red Starbucks cup, the company has grown from 1,400 stores in a handful of countries to more than 23,000 stores in 68 markets around the world. Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.”

“Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season. Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”


Designed by: Starbucks

Country: United States

City: Seattle, WA