“Fight the urge to remain indoors” is not exactly the best mantra for the coronavirus era.
Unfortunately, it was a motto okayed by national chain Caribou Coffee months before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered massive stay-at-home orders.
Now, thanks to a viral TikTok video, the marketing faux-pas is gaining national attention, but not in the way Caribou Coffee ever intended.
Michael Reinhardt, a college-aged barista, recorded himself Monday performing the menial task of sorting through boxes and boxes of coffee sleeves (those cardboard protectors you slip over a disposable coffee cup).
“They have cute, outdoorsy nature phrases,” Reinhardt says in the TikTok video. “Very on-brand for us.” He then shows a few of the slogans, including “The scenic route is the only route” and “The world needs more explorers.”
“But I have to go in and I have to take out every fourth one,” Reinhardt continues, “because they printed them with the words fight the urge to remain indoors.”
The video has received over a thousand comments, some of them from fellow Caribou Coffee employees claiming that they, too, were given the unfortunate task of raking through the sleeves and hand-picking the ones with undesirable phrasing.
“I work at Caribou too and as soon as I saw the box of sleeves I knew EXACTLY what was happening,” one commented. “I had to do the same thing.”
An official spokesman for Caribou confirmed to BuzzFeed that the company was indeed advising employees to “go through and sort out materials that were produced before the pandemic and aren’t exactly on point with the heroic efforts that are being made to contain the coronavirus.”
Still, not every branch of the franchise is fixing the issue in the same way. One customer in Edina, Minnesota shared to social media that he received a cup with most of the words crossed out, so that the sleeve read simply, “remain indoors.”
Caribou can hardly be blamed for the terrible circumstances surrounding their otherwise-innocuous marketing plan. And despite the unfortunate outcome, the coffee brand is getting some free advertising and, as they say, all press is good press.