Gotcha! Starbucks Cups, Secure Your Privacy, and Win That Cruise.

The power of media, particularly social media, is outstanding. People see things on Facebook or Twitter and take it for factual truth. Social media is also a great medium in PR for advertising and marketing. News of a new idea or product spreads like wildfire but that can also be harmful. As quickly as it can spread the good news, it can also spread the bad news at the same speed, if not faster. But is it possible for bad news to bring good publicity? The answer is yes, it can! Companies do it all the time as a market strategy. They post things that they know people will point out and spread the “gossip” but in turn that brings them more traffic. There are a few in recent years that may have appeared on your news feed once or twice. Were your friends and family members outraged but the red Starbucks cup? Did you win that free cruise? What’s a day on social media without political outrage? What about your privacy, did you share or copy and paste that status post to make sure Facebook doesn’t give out all your information? What do all these shares and posts have to do with marketing, though?

Last year Starbucks launched a holiday cup that was simply red. There were rumors that Starbucks wanted to stay with the festive holiday colors but wanted to avoid using certain symbols and icons that would be biased towards a certain belief or religion. Rumors spread like wildfire across social media. People outraged that Starbucks would emit symbolism of the popular Christian holiday. Others applauding Starbucks for being neutral and appealing to their wide array of customers. While a people quickly jumped to pick a side of the argument, either agreeing with the statement of being offended, or Christians who didn’t understand why people were offended, people who supported Starbucks, and people who were confused as to why this was even a topic of news. Well, in the end, it all ended up being a big hoax! The Daily Dot stated that “One Starbucks customer and devout Christian Joshua Feuerstein from Arizona reacted to the plain cups by taking to Facebook to express his disgust in a video rant titled “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.”” The statement made such a big splash that even celebrities weighed in on the matter (Kabas, 2015). Daily Dot stated that after exclusive analysis it was decided that the outrage was more less about the outrage than the cups themselves. Spreadfast, a social media management system was unable to find “any evidence” of people who were genuinely upset about the red cup (Kabas, 2015). After the fire settled, people were drinking more red cups than ever. Everyone wanted their own red cup, people posted pictures on social media of their plain red cup or their red cup that the decorated themselves with festive Christmas symbols. It was all free publicity for Starbucks, and the kicker is it worked so well they’re doing it again this year, but this time it’s green!

All the things we share on social media, our name, our loved ones, photos from that embarrassing night, address, contact info, to deep personal thoughts and opinions that we hope someone reads and agrees with. You can change your privacy settings but is it really safe? Everyone has seen it and maybe fell victim to it but those long drawn out statuses you must share or tomorrow Facebook has the right to release all your info to whomever. Some even say you have to pay for Facebook after a certain date to protect your privacy or simply have access. It’s all a hoax according to Time (Luckinska, 2015). Although the root of this hoax is not quite understood and we are unsure of who is to gain from it. One thing is for sure and is that it spreads and spreads, and even though people know it’s all a hoax, people still continue to post and share it, “just in case”. Stunts like these are very effective in social media marketing, the only thing that is stronger than spreading gossip, is the fear of gossip spreading.

Lastly, the scheming minds that feed on the souls of the working class who just hopelessly want to enjoy a nice vacation, preferably for free. Who wouldn’t love a free cruise? You see them on your news feed, click here and enter to win a free cruise, or free tickets to, free anything really… Click ads like this are used by many third party companies that most people would not look twice at. They use these ads to collect customer information and to gather more customers. According to Hoax-Slayer, it works like this. You see a picture of a cruise ship on your news feed. It says click here, like, share, comment, and be entered to win a free cruise! You click on the ad which then asks you to tag and share your unsuspecting friends and family. The false page then takes you to third-party offers that you are subjected to and asks you click on three of the following and sign up for A, B, and C. In the process you have given your contact information to these companies and now your friends a family are subject to fall to it as well. It is a giant pyramid scheme for companies to gain customer information without having to do much leg work at all. Always check and make sure that the people offering a prize, is the page of the actual company the prize is from. Just remember if it’s too good to be true it probably is.


Christensen, B. M. (2015, August 24). Royal Caribbean Facebook Survey Scam. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from
Jakobsson, M., & SpringerLink (Online service). (2016). Understanding social engineering based scams. New York, NY: Springer New York.
Kabas, M. (2015, November 16). People actually are not that angry about the Starbucks holiday cups. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from

Luckinska, J. (2015, September 28). Old Facebook Privacy Hoax Resurfaces. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from


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