THAT ABOVE, OR
You probably think I don’t know what Starbucks sells! “Hey dummy, they don’t do burgers….” Well, not yet anyway. But for those of you who remember one of the most famous and effective commercials of all time, circa 1984 (hmm, gives one pause), from the burger chain Wendy’s, featuring Clara Peller, that phrase caught on in the public ‘s imagination and became a catchphrase for questioning the quality of any product or idea. If you have never seen the commercial, it’s time. You know what to do (you’d better, if you are young enough not to have seen it). So what does that phrase have to do with Starbucks supposedly “doubling down” on seasonal cheer? If you can’t figure it out from the two pics above, I’m not sure I can help you.
From Business Insider: “Last year, the chain’s holiday sales slumped in part because stores ‘didn’t sufficiently reflect the festive environment,’ Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said on a call with investors on Thursday. Starbucks’ US same-store sales fell 2% in the quarter that ended on December 31, 2017, due in large part to the chain’s disappointing sales on holiday beverages, merchandise and gift cards. Starbucks is going all-in on holiday festivities this year, with stores getting decked out in seasonal decor and baristas donning red aprons starting this Friday. Friday will additionally see the return of Starbucks’ red cups and seasonal menu items. The company is also pushing its holiday assortment with a ‘more robust’ media plan. In years past, Starbucks has faced accusations of a lack of seasonal merriness, especially as it relates to Christmas.”
All-in??? Didn’t sufficiently reflect the festive environment??? What a lame, meaningless generality. Is she referring to Festivus, Mr. Costanza’s “holiday for the rest of us”? Okay, now what’s this old curmudgeon raving about? From the Festivus website:
“People have been inspired by this zany, offbeat Seinfeld holiday and now celebrate Festivus as any other holiday. According to the Seinfeld model, Festivus is celebrated on December 23rd. However many people celebrate it other times in December and even at other times throughout the year. The slogan of Festivus is “A Festivus for the rest of us!” The usual holiday tradition of a tree is manifested in an unadorned aluminum pole, which is in direct contrast to normal holiday materialism. Those attending Festivus may also participate in the “Airing of Grievances” which is an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year, followed by a Festivus dinner, and then completed by the “Feats of Strength” where the head of the household must be pinned.”
But I digress. Notice any pattern in the colors of the cups? Red and green? Could it possibly be they’re trying to say Christmas without saying it? Just sayin. Why not write and say Christmas? Is that hate speech yet? But Uncle Curmudgeon, this season also includes Hanukkah, Kwanzaa (pan African), Omisoka (Japan), Saturnalia (pagans), Boxing Day (Britain, nothing to do with the sport) and Fiesta of Our Lady Guadalupe (Mexican), not to mention Festivus (okay, I won’t). Yah, I know, but here in the good old USA, Christmas IS the season. There would be practically no celebration without it. Some ultra pious ministers of the gospel might point out that Christmas is not a real Christian holiday, because most traditions associated with it are actually pagan. Okay, there goes the Christmas tree, which is fine with me, since the cheapest ones I always buy leave needles all over the floor. But answer me this Batman (pagan savior?), why do we give each other presents? Without Christmas presents, capitalism would collapse, but that’s not the reason. Look at the picture of the angels and the manger. The wise men gave Jesus Christ presents, and so have millions of families throughout the years, so suck it up and pull out that plastic.
Once again, I digress. It’s an occupational hazard of being too creative….. or distracted, I forget which. But the whole point of this blog post is that Starbucks is trying to have it both ways: pander to Christians, who are still a majority of Americans, while not offending anyone else by not mentioning Christmas, instead using the code word “festive”. If this were a political campaign, I would call that a dog whistle (festive=Christmas but shhh). If I ever actually use that term, you have permission to blow my server up.