Spotted at the bottom of the full-page Starbucks ad in today’s New York Times:
Yes, that’s a verbed “merry”—and, just as mysteriously, a capitalized one.
“Let’s Merry” is Starbucks’ holiday campaign theme this year, but anthimeria—the use of a word outside its customary part of speech—is always in season with advertisers. (See “Rethink Possible,” “Engineering Amazing,” “Enjoy the Go,” “The Do Inside,” and the unforgettable “Bare-Knuckled Bucket of Does.”) I’m guessing that Starbucks verbified “merry” not just to catch our attention (or to annoy some of you) but to communicate action. Here’s the press release:
This year, Starbucks will make the season come alive with Starbucks Cup Magic, an augmented reality app customers can download for free and use to discover Starbucks holiday characters found on iconic red cups, coffee bags and signage. Customers can watch beloved holiday characters leap to life in various merry holiday scenes. From carolers singing holiday tunes, to an ice skater practicing her spins, to a boy and his dog having a wonderful time sledding down a hill, the Starbucks Cup Magic app allows customers to interact with Starbucks characters in a festive and fun way, Starbucks-style, for the very first time.
You can also merry old-school.
From the photo evidence, “Let’s Merry” is an international theme.
Hand-drawn sign, Japan. Photo from James’ Empty Blog.
To be sure, the campaign has inflamed some Grinchy grammar purists. The I Hate Starbucks discussion board is frothing with indignation: “That is the DUMBEST slogan ever! And they cant [sic] use proper grammar!? maybe [sic] those execs need to go back to 1st grade.”
By the way, Starbucks’ holiday beverage flavors—Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop, Chocolate Crème Whoopie Pie, Gingerbread Latte—provide an opportunity to ponder another recently invented word: drinkification. “We see see the emerging opportunity to ‘snackify’ beverages and ‘drinkify’ snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience,” PepsiCo’s chairman and CEO, Indra Nooyi, told the Wall Street Journal last December. (PepsiCo and Starbucks have had a joint venture arrangement since 1994.)