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December 12, 2009

Debunking the AFA's Christmas Boycott: Starbucks

Sorry everyone, but I just can't quit the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice?" list of retailers. It's just so arbitrary and inconsistent. Oh yeah, and stupid. If you missed our previous posts on the subject, here's the AFA's description of the list.

AFA's 2009 listing of top retailers and how they recognize Christmas

Based on current advertising, below is a list of companies that avoid, ban, or use the term "Christmas" in their advertising. We will continually update the list, so check back often.

Criteria - AFA reviewed up to four areas to determine if a company was "Christmas-friendly" in their advertising: print media (newspaper inserts), broadcast media (radio/television), website and/or personal visits to the store. If a company's ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach "Christmas" shoppers.

If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word "Christmas," then the company is considered as censoring "Christmas."

Color Code:

GREEN: Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.
YELLOW: Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.
RED: Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.

A company may be removed from the "bad" list by providing documentation to AFA.

I mentioned in my last post about the AFA ending its boycott of Old Navy and Gap that my theory is that some of the companies on the yellow and red lists are only there to make those lists look longer, since the green list is currently longer than the yellow and red lists combined. The more research I do, the more I'm convinced that I'm right. The Gap/Old Navy boycott ended because they were running several commercials that mention Christmas. We've also shown that Victoria's Secret really doesn't belong on the red list either, because they mention Christmas all over their website, catalogues, and other advertising. And today I'm going to make a case that Starbucks, which is on the yellow list, doesn't belong there either.

If you've been in a Starbucks recently, you know that they're definitely not short on holiday spirit - they've got the special holiday drinks, the red cups (this year's design appears to be a Christmas tree with ornaments), and displays of gift sets and other holiday items, including lots and lots and lots of bags of their Christmas Blend coffee.

Yes, you read that right, I did say Christmas Blend. Not Holiday Blend (although they do have that available too), or Hanukkah Blend, or Solstice Blend For Wiccans Who Practice Witchcraft, but Christmas Blend. And if you're a Starbucks fan, you know that the Christmas Blend shows up in the stores right after the Thanksgiving Blend disappears, so basically they heavily promote an item with "Christmas" right in the name for the entire month of December.

There's also a page for Christmas Blend on Starbucks.com:

Can you believe all of that offensive anti-Christmas talk about holiday traditions and families gathering together to celebrate? It's disgraceful, really. And it's a tough break for that AFA that Starbucks is making a big deal about it being the 25th anniversary of Christmas Blend, because now they can't claim that Starbucks just invented it as a result of their protest.

So far I have to say that Starbucks doesn't really sound like a company that "refers to Christmas infrequently" to me, but we'll probably need more to convince the AFA, so let's see what else we can find.

Starbucks cards can make good stocking stuffers, and hey look, here's one that shows people decorating a Christmas tree:
Here are some Christmas-themed coffee gift sets:

If this isn't the most anti-Christmas item in the whole bunch, I don't know what is:
And this little guy is clearly the mastermind of the entire Starbucks Anti-Christmas Conspiracy:

And here's a picture that I took in a Starbucks store a few days ago (I would have taken more, but I didn't want to risk being banned from my local Starbucks, because I'm not sure I could survive that):

If I didn't have the AFA to tell me that Starbucks isn't really into Christmas, I might be fooled into thinking that this was a display of Christmas gift ideas under a Christmas tree. I'm so grateful for their help.

A couple of days after I took that picture in Starbucks, I happened to be in a Dunkin' Donuts, and I realized that they've got nothing Christmas-related going on at all. They don't have holiday cups, they don't have any Christmas or holiday-themed gift sets or products, and they don't do a Christmas Blend or other special coffee for the holidays. Their online store has no Christmas or holiday items either. I've also seen several Dunkin' Donuts commercials this week, and none of them mention Christmas. (You can see some of their holidays ads on their website.) One was about buying a latte to take a break from "the hectic holidays", and another mentioned coming in to Dunkin' Donuts for "the perfect holiday gift", which was a gift set with their Original Blend coffee in generic non-holiday packaging.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm bothered by Dunkin' Donuts saying "holidays" instead of "Christmas", but since they clearly do a lot less than Starbucks does and Starbucks is on the AFA's yellow list, that means that Dunkin' Donuts must be on the anti-Christmas red list, right? Nope. They're actually not on the list at all. What gives, AFA? I'm sure this discrepancy couldn't possibly be because the typical AFA member would more readily associate Starbucks with elitist latte-drinking politically correct liberals and get more fired up to protest them than they might for Dunkin' Donuts. It's so cynical of me to even consider that.

If the AFA is going to put out a list like this, and ask their members to protest and boycott retailers based on that list, I think they owe it to the retailers and to their members to make sure that it's honest and accurate. While we wait (in vain) for that to happen, we'll keep watching the list and...wow, I almost ended this with a super cheesy "checking it twice" Santa joke. Obviously all of the time I've spent thinking about this is getting to me. I'm going to go watch a marathon of shows that the One Million Moms have protested to clear my head before I tackle the AFA's next mistake.


*mary* said...

Great post! And I love the AFA's insinuation that if one does not celebrate Christmas then one is not family- oriented. How insane.

Anna said...

I love your blog, I love Starbucks, and I think the AFA is full of bull, so you folks just keep making me happier and happier these days- which is great, because this grey, drizzly weather is downright depressing.

Mary- yeah, the AFA seems to think that only Christians can be good, family people...yet time and time again I see *some* Christian families who do stupid things like disown their gay kids or their pregnant daughters and I think, "WTF?", because the atheists I know are much more open in their families and very accepting of those same kids...and because Jesus was all into loving everyone and being stupid seems counter to that. Hell, spending all this time an energy to boycott a store for not mentioning Christmas enough seems counter to that, especially when there are starving people in our cities who could really use those efforts in, say, soup kitchen outreach or homeless shelter donations.

You lovely and delightfully snarky evil sluts keep writing awesome things like this and I'll keep sharing them with my Facebook friends over and over again...oh wait, I already do that. ;)

Peace out, folks!

Aydan said...

As a Christian and an environmentalist, I really wish there was less of an effort to make Christmas associated with massive amounts of shopping and consumerism in general, rather than more, and less representation of the idea that Christmas and shopping are indivisibly associated with each other. The assumptions the AFA used to make their lists, unfortunately, seem to encourage merchants to use Christmas to sell stuff. Pretty sure that's not what it was originally supposed to be about!

BenYitzhak said...

But Duncan Doughnuts is awesome because they hired They Might Be Giants to do some commercials for them.