The Checkout

The Saucy Siren of Starbucks

Ylan Mui

We are on the phone with Starbucks public relations and trying hard to sound like a hard-nosed investigative reporter. We want to ask about their newly brown logo and the mermaid --

Compare the new logo (top) with the old logo (bottom). (Images Courtesy of Starbucks)

"She is a siren," spokeswoman Bridget Baker corrects.
"A siren has a split tail and a mermaid has a single tail."
She pauses.
"This is my job."

Well, we had to ask. And that's because the logo unveiled this month to celebrate the new Starbucks' Pike Place Roast reveals the saucy siren in all her glory -- flowing hair, the outline of her ample chest, exposed midriff and a tail in each hand.

The all-brown logo is a replica of the one the chain used when it opened its first store in Pike Place in Seattle in 1971. Back in those days of free love, the siren also flaunted her belly button and bare breasts. When the company resurrected her in 2006 for its 35th anniversary, "we had some customer feedback," Baker said. "We altered it a little bit."

The belly button has disappeared. Her long locks offer a hint of modesty over her breasts. "Her hair has perhaps just blown over the front a little bit more," Baker said. The full-bodied siren will grace Starbucks cups through the end of May, when she will revert to the more stylized version and the logo will return to green. (But Pike's Place Roast, of course, is here to stay.)

We must admit that we are not the first nor the only to notice this trend. Deadprogrammer's Cafe has this chronology of the logo, with photos of the more anatomically correct original -- you decide if it's NSFW. Brand Autopsy has this excellent history of the logo. And The Washington Post's own Colby King wrote this Pulitzer Prize-winning commentary on how Starbucks in Saudi Arabia don't picture the siren at all in a nod to "social norms."

But personally, we (and by we, I mean me) don't understand all the fuss over the old school siren. She kind of looks like she needs to make friends with some crunches and sidebends. The green version is way hotter.

The floor is open for debate.

By Ylan Mui |  April 25, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Consumer News , Marketing , Ylan Mui
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I was totally enjoying this until the end:
"She kind of looks like she needs to make friends with some crunches and sidebends"


And we wonder why women have such body image problems, when even the starbucks logo is panned for being fat and yet, she can't show her belly button.

Posted by: RT | April 25, 2008 8:39 AM

Based on photos of Ylan Q. Mui that have appeared in the newspaper, I'd say not everyone can be as slender as her. Certainly not a siren (apparently).

Posted by: Lindemann | April 25, 2008 10:06 AM

Count me in as also disgusted by the "fat" comments. Not necessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 11:41 AM

I agree with previous commenters in being disappointed by the "fat" commentary. It was a cheap shot, and shows the warped thinking so many have about female beauty--not to mention, this is supposed a place to read consumer news and advice, not how women have to be skinny to be "hot".

Posted by: Lise D | April 25, 2008 1:39 PM

While Starbucks in Saudi Arabia did indeed replace the siren with a seahorse for a number of years, the siren in her new form is back and on display. That's been the case for at least the past two years.

Posted by: John B | April 26, 2008 9:43 AM

So it's fine for her to be a siren (a mythological creature who lured sailors to their death on rocks), but wrong to call her fat?

Posted by: Gonzo, MD | April 29, 2008 9:59 AM

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