Call this round 5,839,493 in the continuing saga of letting customers generate your content. While everyone thinks they are an expert on advertising, few really are. While we live in a society that has the attention span that makes the 40 yard dash seem like forever- attempts to capture attention “by any means possible” are backfiring left and right.

Some may still believe that “Any press is good press”- but that was when newspapers ended up in birdcages instead of online forever.

When you start mixing religion with your brand- be aware, you could either lose or gain customers- and it may be permanent. Several times a year “Hobby Lobby” runs full page ads about Jesus- Christmas, Easter - and it makes me wonder how many Jews, Hundus, Muslims, Buddists etc. choose not to shop there every time.

When it comes to controversy as a marketing tool, it’s ok when you you are the upstart- but if you are the market leader, you are taking chances- here is the article about how God and Starbucks went on a collision course here in the flyover states:

Woman expresses indignation at quote on Starbucks cup
By Margo Rutledge Kissell Staff Writer

SPRINGBORO — – Michelle Incanno was an admitted Starbucks addict.

She’d buy the company’s coffee beans every week. Whenever she’d get the chance to drop by a Starbucks, she would, placing the same order every time: a large, house brewed coffee with nonfat milk and two Splenda. When the Seattle-based chain opened a drive-through near her Springboro home, she was in java heaven.

That was until she got an unexpected jolt last week from her coffee cup.

Printed on the cup was: “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”

It is attributed to Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, and was included on the cup as part of an effort by the company to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.

“As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that. I don’t think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee,” said Incanno, a married mother of three who is Catholic.

She wasn’t satisfied with a company disclaimer saying the quote is the author’s opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks. It invites customers to respond at

Starbucks spokeswoman Sanja Gould said the collection of thoughts and opinions is a “way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals. “

But Incanno said her Starbucks days are over.

“I wouldn’t feel right going back,” she said.

This morning- it was the “most popular story” at the Dayton Daily News site- which means it will be making the rounds- and eventually becoming sermon fodder for the fire and brimstone set- and possibly setting off yet another Starbucks boycott.

I went to the Starbucks site- and couldn’t find this quote on the site (btw- the site wasn’t very web 2.0) and am already wondering if this had been pulled because of complaints already.

Often times agencies look for “hot, young, talent” to “spark” their creativity- and with many of the big agencies isolated from “mainstream America” by being in the major meccas of advertising- sometimes the sensibilities of business get overlooked.

No matter what your position on religion, it’s best to check it for being a universally accepted theme before allowing it to make it into your advertising.

Note: a quick Google of this phrase only brings up the Dayton Daily News article. I’m sure that will change soon.