The anticipation begins in October, when the cups’ arrival begins to generate buzz on social media and websites count down the minutes and seconds until their return. Once they arrive, Starbucks® red holiday cups begin to dot city streets and shopping malls, and customers tweet and share photos of their first Peppermint Mochas and Caramel Brulée Lattes on social newsfeeds.
How did a coffee cup become a cultural icon?
In 1997, when Starbucks had 1,400 stores and was just beginning to expand into Japan and Singapore, the first two countries outside the United States and Canada, the Starbucks Creative team tried a new design for its cups to generate excitement during the holiday season. The theme for holiday was “Give in to the Rhythm,” and the red festive cups punctuated the jewel-toned palate of deep reds, greens, blues and yellows and a jazzy Santa with a profile that evoked the Starbucks siren.
Now, 17 holiday seasons later, Starbucks holiday comes to life with hand-painted graphics and type. Whimsical brushstrokes in bold colors ignite the spirit of the season, and visually showcase the inner spark that shines brightest during the holidays.
Marisa Crane is one of the many Starbucks artists who contributed to the hand-rendered art on the cups, packaging and merchandise.
“To give each element in the design its own unique personality, we all fanned out to our cubicles and painted starbursts, trees and other elements that we later collaged together,” Crane said.
The idea for the theme of this year’s holiday, “Let there be bright,” came from Stephanie Vandenack, a writer on Starbucks Creative team and copy manager for holiday.
“The big idea is that when we all come together, we are stronger and brighter,” Vandenack said. “You can see that notion expressed in the vitality and movement in the holiday cup design. It captures the brilliance of the holidays.”
Vandenack said she’s excited to see her words on pieces this holiday.
“When you are working on a project, it’s usually on a flat piece of paper, you don’t really have a sense of the size or the shape,” she said. “It’s amazing to see something in stores that you wrote, and to realize that it’s all over the world.”