It’s customary for some Starbucks baristas to write the names of customers on cups and shout their names once their orders are ready.
President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters seemed to have seized on that tradition, as they have started telling Starbucks employees that their name is Trump, prompting baristas to shout out “Trump!”
Many took selfies with their cups with the president-elect’s name on them and posted the pictures to social media with the hashtag #TrumpCup. It is the latest in a social media war between Trump supporters and the anti-Trump crowd.
As the hashtag gains traction on Facebook and Twitter, so did #boycottHamilton, which was the Internet’s response to the Broadway musical cast’s decision to address Vice President-elect Mike Pence after one of its shows.
#TrumpCup’s creator, Tim Treadstone, a social media strategist and political consultant from Los Angeles, told The Washington Post that he started the campaign after watching a video of a Starbucks barista who refused to write Trump’s name on a customer’s coffee cup.
On Friday, Treadstone, who goes by @bakedalaska on Twitter, tweeted “Operation #TrumpCup” followed by a two-step instruction urging his more-than 120,000 followers to go to a Starbucks store, tell baristas that their name is Trump and take a video if employees refuse to write the name.
Treadstone called it a First Amendment exercise.
“We have a culture war to win. I’m a Trump supporter. I thought when Trump won, I might just wake up and America would be great again. Guess what, it wasn’t,” Treadstone said. “We have a lot of work to do. We have hearts and minds to win. Obviously, a lot of people aren’t happy with us, and we need to stand up for our freedom and our First Amendment.”
Critics have taken to Twitter to question, with some humor, the logic behind the campaign.
Treadstone said that calling the campaign a “protest” is a mischaracterization of what he’s trying to do.
“This was never meant to be a boycott. I love Starbucks. I have no intention to stray any business from Starbucks at all,” he said, adding that he encouraged his Twitter followers to give baristas an extra tip if they were enthusiastic about writing Trump’s name on the cups.
In response to #TrumpCup, Starbucks released a statement saying that writing customers’ names on cups has been a “fun ritual” at its stores, according to media reports.
“Rarely has it been abused or taken advantage of. We hope and trust that our customers will continue to honor that tradition,” the coffee giant said. “We don’t require our partners to write or call out names.”
Treadstone said he recognizes the frustration from the coffee giant’s statement.
“We did troll them, let’s be honest,” he said. “If you’re so afraid to write your president’s name on a coffee cup, that is sad, that’s insane.”
This isn’t the first time that Starbucks, whose chief executive, Howard Schultz, endorsed Hillary Clinton, has been involved in a controversy with Trump supporters. Campaign records also show that the company contributed $65,741 to Clinton this past election cycle. About $1,400 went to Trump.
Last week, a video showing a Florida man berating a Starbucks barista went viral. David Sanguesa, a real estate remodeler, told ABC affiliate WPLG that the barista refused to serve him even though he already paid because he’s a white man and a Trump supporter.
“Because I voted Trump! Trump! You lost! Now give me my money back,” Sanguesa said, moving toward the register. “What is your name? I want your name. I want your card. You’re garbage. You’re complete trash.”
In a statement about that incident, Starbucks said that “embracing diversity and treating each other with respect and dignity is core to Starbucks values and something our partners take great pride in showing.”
Last year, Starbucks came under fire for introducing a plain red holiday cup instead of the traditional Christmas cups. Last November, Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, suggested boycotting Starbucks and said that if he won, “we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”