What’s your Red Cup?

The Red Cups are about to return in Starbucks branches around the world.


For years, every Christmas, Starbucks have added the red Christmas Cups to their stores with a number of special Christmas flavours. Christmas music appears in the stores (they also sell the CDs) and it feels a little bit closer to winter. Over the past few days, the number of mentions of Red Cups in my Twitter feed has been increasing. I’ve noticed loads of video ads at Underground station telling me the Red Cups are Coming. There’s even a dedicated websitefor them counting down to the big day. It feels like Starbucks (just like Coke Christmas ads ) are doing their best to “own” Christmas.

In the UK, Smooth Radio have  again launched Smooth Radio Christmas – non stop Christmas songs and a great way to cross promote to Smooth Radio. I’m guessing the thinking is that people who don’t necessarily think that Smooth Radio is for them might like a Christmas station. Add in some cross promotion and hopefully gain some listeners.

Christmas stations are nothing new. There are loads online. Many AC format stations in the US flip format in November and December to do the same thing. In Denmark, Radio Soft – sister station to Radio 100 becomes all Christmas too.

But can Starbucks teach us anything about brand extensions?

The Red Cups work because they tie in with a specific time of the year where it’s easier to create a Mood. I’m not sure Starbucks summer cups would have the same effect.
With radio, it’s easier to do brand extension with musical decades (such as Absolute 80s and the like).

But whatever happens – in a crowded (coffee) market, the sight of the Red Cups instantly makes me think of Starbucks and Christmas.

So what’s your Red Cup moment?

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