It’s no secret that, when they write your name on the cup, baristas at “high street coffee chains” deliberately spell it wrong, is it? Nobody can really believe that “Stephen, with a P H” could possibly be spelled “Phteven” by anyone other than someone who knows just what they’re doing – but this happened in McDonald’s according to the entire internet. Clint is the worst; no spelling error needed – see below.

And there’s a reason they do this. It’s the reason they’re TOLD to do this.  It’s all about advertising. You should know this but, if you don’t, let me walk you through it. Stephen walks into Starbucks (other, better, tax-paying coffee shops are available) and looks at the board. He chooses some over-priced, over-named, under-filled sugary cup of frozen piss because when he takes that back to the office everyone will think “wow, not just a coffee but a FROZEN coffee!” and maybe he’ll go up in their eyes.


He queues up and when he reaches the counter he orders a grande frappé somethingorother (what you and I would see as a large milky Slush Puppy) and the barista asks his name “for the order” (because calling out “frappé?” and remembering a face for two minutes is too difficult apparently). “Stephen,” says Stephen”, “with a P H”… “YES!” thinks the over-worked, under-paid, oft-derided student, “I got one!” and scribbles ‘Phteven’ on the cup.

When, a few moments later, he’s passed his cup of cold milk and caramel sauce over crushed ice with a mint leaf in it the first thing Stephen does is check the spelling. He’s heard of hilarious misspellings from places like this in the internet. And lo and behold! PHTEVEN! They did it! Ha, ha! Stephen fires up his over-priced iPhone 6+ with an already-smashed screen (the damage courtesy of his brushing past someone on the train) and snaps a photo of his cup.

“LOL Went to @Starbucks & they spelled my name PHTEVEN wtf Stephen with a P H I said! lmao! #epicbants” he tweets, hatefully. And within a few minutes his tweet, along with a photo of a cup bearing the Starbucks logo and name, is re-tweeted hundreds of times! The Poke get hold of the image, ask Stephen if they can use it on their website and, because they – get this! – addressed the begging tweet to “Phteven” rather than Stephen, he agrees to let them have it for free!

Meanwhile, at Starbucks’ hollowed-out volcano lair, somewhere in a tax-haven nowhere, a little green light flashes underneath a label that says “Cup”. On the terminal Stephen’s photo pops up. Underneath that, his tweet. Below that again a paper prints. The curled roll of readout paper falls to the floor and when it is picked up we see it says “PEOPLE REACHED: 1500+ and rising”.

The next day, the world over, bumbling betweeded arseholes with asymmetrical haircuts and bottle-green super-skinnies converge, their collective destination: Starbucks. They’re all off to buy over-priced coffees in the hope that they’ll have their own Twitter hilari-storm go viral. All this while Starbucks count the profits made by the free advertising Phteven has given them.

Imagine this, multiplied by the number of people who tweet photos of their misspelled name on a high street chain coffee cup – you’ve seen them do it! You may even have done it yourself – and that’s a LOT of free advertising! I’m told there is “unofficial misspelling training” given to coffee shop staff that keeps this little scam alive.

It’s almost as though they can’t afford to PAY for their advertising, isn’t it? 😉


  1. What is it with I-Phone users and broken screens? I have never seen anyone walking round with an android phone with a screen that’s smashed to bits, but I see it with iphone users all the time. Are they such big Apple fanboys that they cannot bear to be apart from their phone, even for long enough to repair it?

  2. It’s not just about people wanting to get their name spelled incorrectly neither, it’s just about getting the brand and the product into your mind. Every little moment someone sees the logo, or think about the taste and smell of a fresh coffee is a win for the marketing team. It makes you more likely to buy something that is instinctively ‘familiar’ to you.

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