Starbucks Forgets That Whole Irish Independence Thing, Asks Country About Its British Pride

Even if Starbucks’ Ireland Twitter account only has 2,000 followers, it probably should’ve thought a bit harder before asking those followers how it feels to be British. You know, since Ireland’s a free and independent republic that is most definitely not part of the United Kingdom anymore.

The Guardian reports that @StarbucksIE asked its followers on Tuesday to “show us what makes you proud to be British” as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee celebration promotion.

As one might think, those Irish followers weren’t too happy that Starbucks is apparently in need of a refresher course in Irish history.

Hours later, Starbucks’ Ireland account apologized, Tweeting: “We erroneously posted to our Irish Twitter page meaning to post to the UK only. Customers in Ireland: We’re sorry.”

An official statement followed, saying:

First and foremost we apologise to our Irish customers for the mistake made on Twitter this afternoon. The tweet, which was only meant to be sent to our British Twitter followers as part of the diamond jubilee celebrations, was erroneously posted to our Irish Twitter page. We apologise to all our customers and followers on Twitter in Ireland and hope that they will forgive our mistake.

Starbucks isn’t the only big company to rub the Hibernians the wrong way recently. Urban Outfitters pulled a few T-shirts it was selling around St. Patrick’s Day, after complaints that they depicted the Irish in an unflattering light.

Then there was Nike’s “Black and Tan” sneaker, also released near St. Patrick’s Day, which shared a name with both a beverage and, unfortunately, a violent British paramilitary unit blamed for atrocities against Catholics during the Irish war of independence.

Starbucks in hot water after asking Irish tweeters if they are proud to be British [The Guardian]


Edit Your Comment

  1. FatLynn says:

    Any guesses on the winning entry?

  2. Cat says:

    It’s impossible to depict the Irish in an unflattering light.

    It’s all true, true I say!

  3. crispyduck13 says:

    Well now the Irish will have something legitimate to get pissed about, rather than bitching about black and tan colored sneakers.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      If only that had been mentioned in the post.

      And it’s quite legitimate. It would be like Nike marketing an Al Queda sneaker in New York City.

      • HSVhockey says:

        Al Queda really only has one meaning unlike black and tan. A better example would be Parker Brothers advertizing a double Jenga variation in NY called Jenga Twin Towers.

        • StarKillerX says:

          Actually it wouldn’t since in most of Nike’s market the vast majority of people who connect Black and Tan to the drink and not a terrorist group.

          • 8pozzum says:

            Funny thing tho…the Irish don’t call it a Black & Tan. It’s called a half and half.

            • RxDude says:

              I’ve heard “half and half” means something different, and costs more than a black and tan.

      • rmorin says:

        No it’s not. Words and phrases evolve throughout time. The Nike shoe was in an obvious reference to the color, and an allusion the alcoholic drink. It just so happened that the drink is named in reference again to the color, but also the violent paramilitary group.

        If we took your advice there’d be few phrases we could use, but keep playing PC police because it makes you feel superior.

        • Kavatar says:

          Words and phrases evolve over time, but not at the same rates to all people. To say “It’s a harmless phrase to us, why should you be offended by it?” is being pretty damn insensitive and self-centered.

          Oh wait, I forgot that this is America, and being insensitive and self-centered is kind of our thing.

          • rmorin says:

            So you’ve never said the phrase “oh my god”? Because there are literally millions, if not billions of people in the world that would be offended by you saying that. If you never said a phrase that did not offend SOMEONE then you would be stuck without any popular lexicon.

            But again, go around feeling better about yourself for policing others, just know you’re hypocrite that’s not actually doing any good towards social justice or equality, sorry.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        Taco Bell’s Chilito

  4. Talmonis says:

    Oh boy, that won’t go over well in the least.

  5. phobos512 says:

    I’ll just point out that even if it had been intended solely for those customers in the UK, it would have still been offensive. Just ask any Welshman/woman (who are English as Wales is part of the UK but most assuredly do not approve of being called British).

    • TheBusDriver says:

      British yes, English, hells no.


    • kmz says:

      You got that exactly backwards. The Welsh are British, but they’re not English.

      England (thus, the English), Wales (Welsh, definitely not English), and Scotland (Scottish, natch) are the separate entities which make up the island of Great Britain (thus the English, Welsh, and Scottish are all British), which along with Northern Ireland make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    • GoldVRod says:

      Gracious me – you really fucked up that comparison.

  6. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Might have been worse if they did it to Scotland…aren’t they trying to revolt right now?

    • Velifer says:

      The Scottish are always revolting.
      Haggis? Really?

    • Sarek says:

      I fell into that when I was touring back in high school. The train was going from Edinburgh to London. I remarked that it was nice to see the English countryside.
      “You’re in Scotland, lad!”
      Then I put both feet in my mouth: “Oh sorry. Should I have said the British countryside?”

      Me: trying to shrink under the seat

  7. j2.718ff says:

    As soon as they realized the mistake, they should have re-posted the exact same message on their twitter accounts for other countries. That way, it’d look more like a twitter-account mistake. “Oops, we accidentally sent this message to all countries”

  8. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    They should have waited until July 4th and tweeted that in the U.S.

  9. jessjj347 says:

    I find that a lot of Americans don’t understand what the nuances are between the “UK” vs. “Great Britain” vs. Ireland vs. etc. Maybe it’s because the culture doesn’t put much emphasis on geography. Maybe I could blame the public schools? I don’t know…

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      The notion that other countries exist, let alone other continents, is just a theory…a controversial theory. We therefore either don’t teach it, or have to teach the controversy.

    • SabreDC says:

      I would say that there are probably just as many Brits who don’t understand the nuances between CONUS, DC, unincorporated organized territories like Guam and Puerto Rico, and unincorporated unorganized territories like American Samoa. I think all countries have nuances about their political subdivisions and sovereign states that are often misunderstood by people outside that country. And I don’t think it’s necessarily the fault of public school.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I consider myself relatively smart on international things, but I couldn’t care less about the difference between the UK and Great Britain. It seems like a legal accident that there even is a difference – Northern Ireland is obviously linked to that nation, and I can’t imagine it’s all that common to need to refer to the island itself, but as a political entity.

    • who? says:

      On the other hand, as someone working in the American office of a British company, the English are completely baffled by our St. Patrick’s day celebrations, especially the whole green food thing. My English boss completely *did not understand* why everyone was in the kitchen eating green bagels when he was trying to call a meeting.

    • arcticJKL says:

      Its sort of like Europeans not understanding the US is made up of sovereign states who have their own drivers licenses and laws that differ from each other.

    • JemimaPuddleduck says:

      But this wasn’t even about the difference between UK and Britain and England.

      This was in Ireland, which isn’t connected to any of them (as opposed to Northern Ireland, which is).

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    So all those years of fighting for independence were for naught.

  11. daemonaquila says:

    Wow – talk about one of the worst insults they could manage. I foresee a lot of lost customers over this. Can’t say I’m too sorry about that.

  12. GoldVRod says:

    Here’s a quick breakdown.

    The big island shaped like a backwards UKP £ sign – that’s “Great Britain”. The remaining land masses nearby are the “British Isles” and other external places like The Falklands are part of the entire “United Kingdom” which actually encompasses pretty much everything.

    In the big land mass of Great Britain are Scotland and Wales and England. These are separate countries – part of Britain and part of the United Kingdom but separate countries.

    At the top of the land mass to the left is “Northern Ireland” and these people see themselves as “British”. The rest is the Republic of Ireland – the Irish.

    Now the easy part to remember for Mercia folk – only one of these countries is English. Guess which one.

    While I’m at it since this has actually come up – Mexicans are North American.

    The more you know!

  13. SoCalGNX says:

    How completely ignorant.

  14. adent1066 says:

    In Starbuck’s defense, it’s only been 90 years /s

  15. Jozef says:

    I live in Dublin, and even though this has made limited news here yesterday, nobody’s giving a damn. In worst of times, the reaction would be something like “Oh feck Starbucks. Let’s go have a pint.” These days, however, the entire country is excited about the upcoming Euro 2012 football championship, and everything else is being overlooked.

  16. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Ah, but ’twas all in good fun!

  17. britswim04 says:

    The Black and Tans weren’t necessarily British – There were a number of Irish-born members who had been British soldiers in WWI and were pro-Crown.

    Which is why the drink is typically Guinness and Bass ale.

  18. AdviceDog says:

    The Irish shouldn’t want Starbucks to leave; apparently, they’re the only people who know how to make coffee.