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Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

Starbucks under fire after removing Christmas references from its cup design

A social media campaign is now calling on customers to say their name is "Merry Christmas" in an attempt to force festive branding back onto the cups

Starbucks has found itself the subject of an angry social media campaign after it removed Christmas imagery from its red seasonal cups in an attempted to push a more inclusive marketing campaign in the run up to Christmas.

The company’s decision to remove “symbols of the season” such as reindeer and Christmas trees has resulted in a social media backlash with criticism coming by way of #MerryChristmasStarbucks.

Backlash against the decision gathered pace when Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor who calls himself a "social media personality," took exception and posted a ranting video online which has since gone viral with over 10 million viewers.

Feuerstein criticised the coffee company for removing "Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus” and encouraged customers to say "Merry Christmas" instead of their names in order to "trick" baristas into writing the phrase on the cup. He encouraged customers to post pictures of the customised cups using the ##MerryChristmasStarbucks.

In response to Feuerstein's video, Starbucks said in a statement that it tries "to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity” and argued that the cup is a "blank canvas" that encourages "customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way”. Starbucks’ vice president, Jeffrey Fields, added that the company "wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories” when the cups were released late last month. The social media campaign has been widely supported online with thousands of customers posting photos of the “Merry Christmas” scrawled cups. Others have taken exception to the movement and defended the company’s decision while pointing out that they have a range of other products with Christmas branding on them.

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