In the summer of 2002 , less than a year after 9/11, Starbucks released their new ad campaign.
This seemingly innocuous image soon garnered the attention of customers who thought that something just wasn’t quite right about it. And the more they studied the image, the more wrong it seemed — the two drinks standing side by side (just like the former World Trade Center towers had), towering over the oddly square, building-like blades of grass, the cute little dragonfly angling for a direct collision course with one of the drinks …
All of that could have been ignored. The real kicker was the tagline: “Collapse into Cool.” When the fuck has that phrase ever been uttered by anyone? The whole thing is just so … weird.
After complaints came in, Starbucks kicked into full-on backpedal mode, aborting the release of any more of the posters and instructing the 3,000 stores where the posters had already been displayed to “rip that shit down forthwith” (official wording from the internal Starbucks memo). The fiasco taught Starbucks an invaluable lesson about steering well clear of anything that could be even remotely reminiscent of the attacks, and they never again had another 9/11-related controversy. And by “never again,” we mean “until about nine years later,” when they decided to declare September 11, 2011 Free Coffee Day.