Starbucks Encourages Creativity with White Cup Contest

At first, Starbucks probably didn’t realize that by giving their customers mostly plain white cups, they were also handing out blank canvases. But after multiple suggestions from customers on their My Starbucks Idea page, the coffee giant decided to harness the creative potential of their patrons with a contest that rewards innovative thinking and artistic skills. And so far, it’s netted some pretty cool results.

The White Cup Contest plays off a trend among Starbucks customers, who frequently post photos of their decorated cups to social media.

“The cups are such a great canvas,” says Briar Waterman, creative director for Starbucks digital team. “because you can try an abstract design and just keep adding to it. The design variations can be infinite.”

Customers can use either paper cups, or the $1 Starbucks reusable cup, which is sturdy enough for about 30 uses. To enter, customers just have to photograph the cup and submit the photo via Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

The winning design — which is judged on creativity, as well as adherence to the rules and public appeal — will be made into a limited-edition reusable cup, and comes with a prize of a $300 gift card.

To truly allow customers to get creative, the rules of the contest are relatively few, and are mostly just pragmatic for the printing of the cup and upholding of the brand’s strict logo-use guidelines. Rules include:

– 1/2 inch horizontal space must remain clear on top and bottom
– Cup design will only be printed in four colors, one of which must be the logo color 3425 Pantone.
– Manipulation to the Siren logo is not allowed.
– No gradients, glitter, metallics or translucent paints can be printed.

Other than that, coffee drinkers are mostly permitted to doodle, draw, or otherwise decorate the cups as they see fit. The contest ends May 12. Get the full rules here. And check out some more of the designs fans have submitted:

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.