Maybe it’s because summer is closing in, but this week we may have already got the silliest story of the season.
On Tuesday, Starbucks, the most famous thing to take its name from a Herman Melville book now that Moby doesn’t seem to be making records anymore, launched a UK marketing campaign to dovetail nicely with all that Jubilee business. Except, they made a now infamous geography malfunction. Now, social network marketing campaigns can be a difficult needle to thread at the best of times, but whenever you send out a tweet asking what makes proud to be British from your Irish account, you’re just asking for a hiding.
I’m not going to add to the mountain of puns (If it gets to court, will they be represented by a barista? Ha-cha cha cha cha!) but inevitably the quips came thick and fast, some of them about how Ireland is actually German and not British, and some of them funny. But in some quarters it seemed to cause genuine, high-handed annoyance. The Irish Times went as far to say it prompted “outrage." Outrage, I say! Why anyone would be annoyed by such a blunder seems almost as perplexing as people following a coffee outlet on Twitter in the first place.
After all, it’s a well-worn trope that successful people from the Emerald Isle are co-opted as British when they’re successful, and as they’re on the way down they’re Irish. Such custody battles don’t bother me, if anything we should be a bit flattered that the UK want to co-opt our famousers. After all, we take in abroad dwellers as our own all the time, from David Gray to Counting Crows to basically everyone who played football for us in the late eighties.
Ireland seems to have mastered missing the point completely. In the last few days, news eccentric TD Mick Wallace was avoiding tax to the tune of €2 million has been met with a worrying amount of moral equivalency, while last week the country essentially sleepwalked into accepting a treaty that will have far-reaching implications, with just half the country showing up at the polls. But no, it’s the coffee that really seems to get us energized.