business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Starbucks' new holiday cups, already generating some controversy, one MNB user wrote:

Count me among those dismayed yesterday morning at the sight of Starbuck’s green holiday cups.  Not because green somehow is not properly reverent of the Christ Child (last I checked, red AND green were the traditional colors associated with Christmas), but because IT’S TOO EARLY!!!  Which is the same message I have for Best Buy, who started running Christmas commercials (complete with Santa) before Halloween.

You wrote: “The good news for Starbucks is that its brand is so deeply engrained into the culture that the design of its cup can create a backlash when some folks don't approve.” I think there is more good news than that.  I don’t really believe that anyone who is “boycotting” Starbucks even goes there in the first place.  I’d venture that a good many of these folks don’t even have a Starbucks within a reasonable driving distance of them, and a whole bunch probably think “McCafe” is a bit too ethnic for their liking.  So, congratulations, Starbucks, on a whole bunch of free publicity.  Again.

From another reader:

I agree with you 100% - evidence of how engaged many consumers are with the Starbucks brand  is clearly demonstrated by the incredible fuss being made over the design of the formerly red holiday cup.   It is also important to remember that the people who care most about this brand and are doing the fussing are HIGHLY caffeinated…

Another perspective might be, without getting too “Psychology 101”, the Starbucks Holiday Cup has become for many people an integral part of their holiday survival…er…celebration.  For many, that warm, red-colored cup promising pumpkin-spicy goodness provides that little bit of sanity as we drive to our in-laws for Thanksgiving Dinner where invariably psyches will be damaged and a turkey will be tragically cooked to “ Christmas Vacation-level doneness."

That red cup is what we promise ourselves we will receive if we wrap just ONE MORE present; that red cup contains the miracle elixir that will wash away the Seinfeldian envelope glue residue in our mouths from the 100 holiday cards sent to people not spoken to in a decade.   That red cup reminds us that NO, WE ARE NOT ALONE… our fellow Starbuckians too are holding onto that red cup for DEAR LIFE as they navigate their very own Rube Goldberg version of HOLIDAY HELL!

But now, instead of that soul-affirming red cup, we are getting a green cup… featuring all the people who are having a better holiday than we are.

From another reader:

A tempest in a coffee cup.


Yesterday, MNB took note of a New York Times story detailing the extent to which Chobani, by "employing more than 300 refugees in his factories, starting a foundation to help migrants, and traveling to the Greek island of Lesbos to witness the crisis firsthand," has been "targeted with racist attacks on social media and conspiratorial articles on websites including Breitbart News."

The issue seems to be that Chobani's employment of "resettled refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey, among other countries," and efforts to help them live the American dream, are being cast in some quarters as an effort to achieve the "Islamification" of America.

You can read the entire story here.

I had a one word response to this story:


Which prompted MNB reader Ken Wagar to write:

Sorry but your comment "Sad" seems like so little to say regarding such nut cases. It is way more than sad and I was disappointed in your rather mild comment. On the other hand I understand choosing your battles and the potential responses you would have received had you been a little stronger in your reaction.

This is a huge issue in the US and in the food business down to the many of middle eastern heritage running supermarkets in the inner city of Detroit, to the convenience stores, hotels, motels etc. Be they Indian, Pakistani, Afghani or of any other background. So much more than sad is the discrimination and hatred these people face every day. Makes me sick to my stomach.

Me, too. I was actually making a reference to someone who I think is helping to fuel many of these anti-immigrant sentiments, and often takes to Twitter to criticize anyone who disagrees with him, and uses the word "sad."

I was being sarcastic.

From another reader on the same subject:

You know what I am getting tired of and why people don’t trust media companies anymore.  I call it trolling for victimhood.  There are people out in the world that hate Catholics or Muslims or Gays or Blacks or Whites or Republicans or Democrats or Men or Women.  That is life and people have a god given right to be wrong.  A cottage industry has grown up around finding those people and using them as poster children for why people we don’t like are despicable people.  People sit in their bubble and get news that constantly reinforces why the other side is not only wrong, but down right evil.  After time, people actually believe that the other side (like 50% of their fellow citizens) not only have different political beliefs, they are the lowest form of the human race. This kind of crap is destroying the fabric of our society and needs to stop.  Please think about this when you see articles highlighting victimhood and remember that anybody can write an article and fill it with hateful things that people from the other side said or did as well.

I respectfully disagree. I firmly believe in the old saying that the role of journalism is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Journalists aren't always successful, and there are a lot of folks out there who call themselves journalists but are not. But the goal, and the ultimate role, remain the same.

In the case of the New York Times piece about Chobani, it was not trolling for victims. And when I read stories like that, I think that the Times is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.
KC's View: