Red Starbucks Cups: A Story of Viral Outrage Marketing


Everything on the internet is a lie, especially anything you hear about a “movement” or “boycott” or “outrage”. This is one of those.

On November 5, Josh Feuerstein, an Arizona preacher, Facebook vertical video ranter, and Fred Durst-style backwards cap-wearer, basically a Christian version of Howard Stern, posted a 1-minute 18-second video about a red-hued mass-produced beverage receptible. You see, he went to Starbucks to get his morning cup of coffee and was handed a simple red cup. He immediately felt triggered by this holiday-colored but not holiday-decorated design, so he retreated to his safe space of portrait-oriented internet video and expressed this offense to the world.

And horrifically, the world listened. As of this writing Feuerstein’s video has 12,247,900 views, 153,895 likes, 447,838 shares, and 36,094 comments. Normally I don’t recommend reading comments on internet posts, but in this case it’s illuminating.

The first three comments on Feuerstein’s post are from Feuerstein himself. First, he urges his viewers to use a specific hashtag when discussing the issue on social media. That helps people discussing it connect to each other and helps the topic trend if enough people use it.

The second comment is Feuerstein linking to his own blog post at about the topic. That gets people to his own advertising-supported website, putting money in his pocket with each hysterical pearl-clutching click. The third comment is Feuerstein tagging at least thirteen other mostly Christian conservative outrage-mongers like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Breitbart in an effort to get their social media managers to talk about the post and link to his website (*click*click*ka-ching*ka-ching*).

Since the original post, the non-story has been picked up by basically every website in the country (including this one); no one wants to lose out on ad revenue. This morning Fox & Friends began their annual “War on Christmas” coverage, in quotes so they can pretend they are just reporting, not promoting it themselves, with a report on Feuerstein’s (marketing) campaign.

And that’s just what it is - marketing. No one is actually outraged that Starbucks designed a plain red cup for the holidays, least of all Feuerstein, who literally posted the same day he made the Starbucks video that “[p]eople are sooooo easily offended these days … lol”.


The first comment sums up the hypocrisy nicely. Brad Paisley may as well be holding a red Starbucks cup in his hand instead of his cell phone.

Feuerstein is a huckster and a charlatan selling fake religious outrage to a pliant audience that’s just as perpetually offended as the “politically correct” liberals they constantly mock. I have decided to not link to any of his personal brand marketing crusade here, so as to not feed the cycle of artifice. As Susan Powter said, STOP THE INSANITY.

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