Food & Beverage

Starbucks' new 'unity' cup draws fire ahead of election

Chelsea Bailey
Starbucks green cup 2016
Source: Starbucks

In a campaign season defined by divisiveness, nearly every subject can be split along political lines — including a coffee cup design.

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks unveiled a new "Green Cup" Tuesday that is meant to symbolize unity ahead of the election.

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But the timing of the cup's release, as well as its political message, drew swift and harsh criticism on social media.

Some Twitter users threatened to boycott the company in response to the cup, accusing Starbucks of "political brainwashing" and spreading "liberal bias" by wading into the election.

Others were upset that the company's cup did not carry a stronger holiday message and accused the company of attacking Christian values.

In a statement on the cup's release, Starbucks does not indicate that the new green cups are specifically for the holiday season.

"During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other," said Howard Schultz, the coffee giant's chairman and CEO.

The cup was designed by artist Shogo Ota who sketched hundreds of figures — from farmers to baristas — embracing in one continuous line. Ota said he hoped the design would serve as a symbol for "stitching people together as a united community."

This is not the first time the company has come under fire for releasing themed cups. Last year, a former Arizona pastor launched a viral campaign to boycott the company, after the company released a minimalist "holiday" cup without any typically Christian iconography.

Donald Trump waded into the discussion at a rally, riling the crowd by saying, "Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don't know."