‘Dumb Starbucks’ Makes Venti Media Waves

DumbStarbucksLogoWhatever the nature of the bizarre coffee shop that opened Friday at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz district, it’s brewing up – two days later – some very impressive east coast coverage. Following an initial report by LA public radio station KPCC, the “Dumb Starbucks” has today been written up at Gawker, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. With no doubt more such coverage to come before the java-jig is up.

From Luke O’Neil’s Gawker dispatch:

The odds are that this is some sort of dumb viral marketing stunt or other, and the fact that Dan Harmon of Community and Rainn Wilson were among some of the first to post about it on social media suggests a dumb TV show angle. Further casting suspicion are the dumb store’s dumb disclaimers on their dumb FAQ, where they qualify themselves as a work of parody art in order to circumvent the very, very likely trademark infringement suit they could be subject to.

The comments to the KPCC article are full of conjecture about the oddball pop-up operation. One reader thinks they may have the Comedy Central answer:

This is almost definitely part of the show Nathan For You… I can already tell the premise. Starbucks comes to Nathan for publicity, Nathan determines Starbucks is too highbrow, convinces them to open “Dumb Starbucks” location and Starbucks gets to laugh at itself over all its silly C&D notices and trademark lawsuits.

A spokesperson for Starbucks confirmed to the Journal and CBS LA that the company is not involved with the stunt. Meanwhile, a patron who lined up for the free coffee told CBS 2 reporter Cristy Fajardo that their latte was “pretty awful.”

Update (February 10):
A Starbucks rep has told AP reporter Justin Pritchard the following:

“While we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” spokeswoman Laurel Harper said in an email.

Update (February 10):
Looks like the commenter we referenced in our original report was right on the money. Via press conference this afternoon, Nathan For You has taken responsibility for the stunt. Per KPCC:

In a press conference, the show’s host Nathan Fielder revealed that the pop-up “parody” was a part of the Canadian comedian’s second season.

Fielder – whose documentary-style comedy show is premised on attempting to help businesses and people thrive using unusual and often ill-advised techniques – told the throng of reporters and onlookers that he’d soon be opening a similar cafe in Brooklyn.