Brewing Backlash – Coffee Brand Under FIRE for Controversial Image

( – Costa Coffee is in hot water after an illustration on the side of a Costa Coffee van sparked controversy. The image featured a surfer with a Costa coffee cup wearing yellow bathing trunks and sporting scars from a mastectomy.

Outraged, thousands of social media users began using the hashtag #BoycottCostaCoffee. Comments attacked the company for glorifying the chest scars, indicating “gender-affirming” “top surgery.” “Top surgery” is a euphemism for elective, cosmetic removal of the breasts, known as bi-lateral mastectomy.

Members of Sex Matters, a human rights organization, expressed their outrage. They noted that the image is shocking and irresponsible. In addition, Twitter users pointed out that the cartoon romanticizes gender dysphoria and mental illness.

Corporations like Costa may be taking advantage of issues related to mental health. How would young girls, going through puberty and struggling with their changing bodies, perceive brands promoting breast removal surgery for gender reasons?

Costa was bound to face substantial criticism when it published this mural. The uproar has been felt in many areas of society, both domestically and internationally.

The company did not show public remorse or engage in self-reflection after the backlash. Costa, which was sold to Coca-Cola for $5.1 billion in 2018, released a statement supporting the image as a representation of diversity after it was shared.

The coffee giant is headquartered in London and has nearly 4,000 stores around the world. They have been known to be allies of LGBTQ groups.

Target and Kohl’s were boycotted for selling trans-friendly or Pride merchandise, while Nike and The North Face faced boycotts for working with trans influencers or drag queens in their marketing campaigns. Maybelline faced a boycott in July when they featured a bearded LGBTQ influencer in a makeup ad, but these boycotts have decreased since Pride month.

Similar to Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Twitter users hoped Costa would face a comparable blowback. The company experienced a decrease of almost 30% in sales when compared to last year’s same period, resulting in the laying off of hundreds of employees.

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