No, Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t waging war with Starbucks over Christmas cups

Let’s put this one to rest: Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks aren’t waging war against each other over Christmas cups. The Internet, in its propensity to jump on fake controversy, orchestrated a fake battle between the two brands over the introduction of holiday-themed cups this week.

It all started on Monday when the story about a loudmouth “Christian evangelist” attacked Starbucks for being “anti-Jesus” because this year’s minimalist design doesn’t have a Christmas tree or other icons associated with the holiday. The actual outrage was paltry and the coinciding #MerryChristmasStarbucks hashtag campaign flopped.

On Wednesday, Dunkin’ Donuts debuted its Christmas cups, a festive design with the word “Joy” with holly wrapped around it. It’s cute! But, the tempest in a coffee cup inspired a bevy of headlines brewing with hot takes like “Dunkin’ Donuts just ‘destroyed’ Starbucks with this Christmas-y cups” and, oh good lord, “Dunkin’ Donuts Stirs Starbucks ‘Brew-haha’ With Festive Holiday Cup.”

Here’s a sampling of headlines:

Oh, no.
“1,666 more articles” (!)

One problem: Dunkin’ Donuts has sold Christmas cups for years, since at least 2001 if not before that, and they’ve always rolled out its design around this week. (We’ve reached out to them for an exact date but haven’t yet heard back). It’s not like Dunkin’ Donuts held an emergency meeting this week to brainstorm a design for a more Christmas-y cup design to spite Starbucks.

In fact, the agency that designed the cup, Boston-based Hill Holliday, told Digiday that the design was finalized “several months ago” in the summer and the word “joy” has been a central part of design for “many years.”

The design, according to a Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson, “conveys the happiness and spirit of the holiday season in a way that resonates with our guests.” It’s also holiday agnostic, never explicitly referencing Christmas. The brand didn’t have a comment on the so-called “brew-haha” but it’s certainly driving more people to talk about the cup than they would’ve had if Starbucks wasn’t in the news.

According to data from Brandwatch, Dunkin’ Donuts was mentioned 9,000 times on Twitter yesterday, more than double its average. Roughly 71 percent of the sentiment has been positive toward the brand. For Starbucks, the buzz hasn’t been as positive, with 67 percent of the 199,000 tweets from the last week referencing the cups, being negative.

Regardless, the “controversy” should’ve prompted Dunkin’ Donuts to make a last minute change to its cups from “joy” to “oy.” Is it Dec. 26, yet?

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