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“There’s no such thing as bad PR.”

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, the typical marketing idea of dropping Christmas at the first mention of fall is being utilized by every possible corporation. Snowflakes, candy canes, snowmen – commercial Christmas is everywhere.

One problem.

The culture in the United States has become one of annoying political correctness; everyone is offended by something, and no one is ever pleased. It is impossible to have every group agree on even the littlest issue, including a coffee cup.

As one of the biggest companies in the world, Starbucks obviously feels the weight of the overly zealous American public. In an attempt to combat this issue, the coffee giant released their annual holiday cups a little differently this year – simply two-toned red. In the eyes of Starbucks, they wished to please everyone, including those who celebrate Christmas.

Initially, you could say this approach completely backfired on Starbucks. Evangelical Christian pastors were in an uproar and Donald Trump even threatened to boycott the coffee. Social media was anti-Starbucks, until it wasn’t.

Soon enough, the American public rallied behind their favorite ridiculously priced coffee. Celebrities, like Stephen Colbert, continued the conversation, mocking those offended by the removal of commercial, not religious, Christmas on cups that we literally throw away.

One thing is for certain, people cared. With over 18 million hits on Google, the “Starbucks cups controversy” gained traction across the country. People everywhere were commenting on the issue, with only a small minority actually angered by the cups.

More importantly, Starbucks has created a completely successful marketing strategy, without ever spending a dime. With those rallying behind the coffee giant, the controversy has done anything but hurt sales. The boycotts that were threatened never materialized, and the Christians initially hurt by the new cups have calmed.

The lesson is: people should be talking about you, negative or not. It is better for people to care about your brand. Starbucks really knows the true meaning of American Christmas – make money.

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