Why TikTok Is Upset Over A Set Of Dueling Starbucks Tip Jars

Starbucks is often in the news for controversial reasons, but the coffee giant has historically come under fire for the behavior of its management, not its workers. The most pressing example is the ongoing battle over unionization for Starbucks employees, which has led to worker strikes and has recently been met with legal opposition from corporate. Other scandals that have hit Starbucks over the years include a racial profiling incident in Philadelphia involving two Black men who were arrested for not making a purchase, a company-wide racial bias training video that some employees felt missed the mark, and an alleged barista policy that threatened to cut workers' hours if they failed to "get to know" customers.

The latest Starbucks indiscretion, however, has nothing to do with union drives or strict managers. It's between workers, other workers, and TikTok users — all surrounding a pair of tip jars and one highly-publicized defamation trial. 

A drive-thru flaunted pro-Depp, anti-Heard tip jars

For those unfamiliar with the trial, The New York Times reports that actor Johnny Depp had sued his ex-wife, fellow actor Amber Heard, "on grounds that she defamed him" in a viral op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she identified herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." 

The ongoing trial, which is being publicly broadcasted on YouTube by Law & Crime Network, has sparked an unsettling division among the actors' respective fans. Daily Dot summarizes a since-deleted video from TikTok user @valeria__amor, in which she films a Starbucks drive-thru that flaunted a pair of tip jars expressing blatant opposition to Heard. "Written in green ink, one of them featured Depp's name misspelled [...] surrounded by stars and hearts," writes Daily Dot. "The container featuring Heard's name included a frowning face and a drawing of poop," adds the outlet, which also notes a moment in the video where an employee shouts his support for Depp.

If the thought of all this makes you cringe, you're in good company with several TikTok commenters. "We can't put anything controversial like the Johnny vs amber case [on tip jars] Bc of policy," wrote one user, who works at Starbucks. "Why y'all making bets on an abuse case?" wrote another. While it may have been intended as a joke, this tip duel certainly isn't sitting well with everyone.