Happy Inconsequential Marketing Day! #RedCups #Banter #Engagement

By Gary Cutlack on at

Now that everyone's changed their names back to normal from the hilarious* Halloween alternatives, there's a new thing everyone's talking about on the internet today -- cups. Red cups. Starbucks cups. People are pretending to be excited about an advert, basically, and that's the depressing online future we all face.

Just search Twitter for "red cups." What you find today is a desolate wasteland of brands engaging with each other, punctuated by the odd despairing self-aware civilian asking what the fuss is about and why are people tweeting about cups when there's probably important politics happening somewhere in the world.

And it gets worse. A company that sells its hot beverages in orange cups butts in to say orange cups are best. Then a company selling things in stripy cups says stripy cups are the best. Oh, the hilarity! And Newsweek is retweeting it all because it's inoffensive and popular and interests advertisers, and that's what the internet needs to be. It's the most sterile drivel imaginable, and we're being led to believe this is the future of advertising?

No one swears, because people who tweet vacuous nonsense on behalf of major brands aren't allowed to swear. This relentless PG-rated marketing banter is what's killing Twitter, not any lack of desire from users to tweet. When the amazing tweets we've spent a whole afternoon thinking up are sent out into such a barren world of opinion-free, emotionless banter where everyone's adopting a fake super-positive Ned Flanders persona, you can't help but wonder what the point of saying anything at all is.

The sad thing is, thousands of people saying boring things about cups to gather retweets from bots and brands is a massive win for Starbucks. Mundane banter from rival independent coffee shops counts as engagement, or the Holy Grail of advertising. Starbucks has, once again, won.

Which means the future of the internet is the Tesco social media intern talking to the Starbucks social media intern about their respective brand values and unbeatable daily offers, for ever, while no one outside of the loop engages or cares.

We'll look back on the display advertising era of the internet with fondness, as at least 300 x 250 MPUs aren't so endlessly patronising.