Back in 2005, we suggested that Starbucks cups might be a good advertising venue since experiments showed that caffeine stimulates the areas of the brain associated with memory and attention (Can Caffeine Brain Boost Help Ad Recall? ). Starbucks ignored the neuromarketing potential of their cups and didn’t start selling ad space, but they have been printing quotes from both famous philosophers and Starbucks customers. There has been little commentary on the quotations in the two years they have been running until a flap developed over a quote that questioned the existence of God.
The quote, one of hundreds that has been printed on the cups, was submitted by a Canadian customer and read, “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” (See Religious quote on cup jolts Starbucks regular.)
Putting thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary submitted by your own customers on your beverage packaging sounds like a positive thing. Proving the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished, though, a religious Ohio woman objected to this quote, resulting in a flurry of coverage in the national press. Soon, we can expect that clerics will be denouncing “the atheist agenda at Starbucks” from their pulpits and encouraging their parishioners to seek their caffeine fixes elsewhere.
We think Starbucks should have followed our advice and used that space for advertising.