Starbucks early victim in the War on Christmas

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is taking heat for its seasonal cups that differ from the chain's signature green print on a white background. This year, visitors through December will get a simple red colored cup.

The lack of Christmas specific graphics fueled a firestorm of criticism on social media this weekend.

One such customer—Joshua Feuerstein, an Arizona-based evangelist—took to ordering beverages at local Starbucks, giving his name as "Merry Christmas." It was an attempt to "trick" the store into writing Merry Christmas on its cup, according to Fortune.

The ensuing social media chatter caused Starbucks to release a statement explaining this year's design selection.

"In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs," said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks VP of design and content. "This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories."

Starbucks noted in the statement that it strives to "create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity. Each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season. Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world."

Starbucks may be one of the first retailers to face criticism that its stores or marketing is too secular for some, or that the seasonal promotions have started too early. But it certainly won't be the last as retailers walk the line of least offense this holiday season.

For more:
-See this Fortune story
-Read the Starbucks statement

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Starbucks adding video screens to drive-thru
Shoppers will skip Thanksgiving dinner for a deal
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Holiday shoppers want store pickup
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