Earlier this month, a new L.A. coffee shop began making headlines for its rather ‘uninventive’ approach to branding. The coffee shop, named Dumb Starbucks (no that’s not a typo), mirrored itself after Starbucks, using their logo, names and other trademarked material. But it wasn’t Starbucks who took the first shot; it was L.A. health inspectors.
Inside the Dumb Starbucks store, customers were greeted with a sign that read:
“So is this a real business?
Yes it is. Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our “coffee shop” is actually an art gallery” and the “coffee” you’re buying is considered the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”
“We are aware of the store, it is not affiliated with Starbucks. We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” said a spokesperson for Starbucks when questioned by the press on whether or not they would seek legal action.
If you attempt to visit Dumb Starbucks today, you’ll see a note on the front door saying is was closed down for failure to provide a valid permit. When it was opened, however, Dumb Starbucks received a massive amount of customers, some of whom waited for over an hour to get a cup of coffee. The establishment was operated by just two employees, and I think it’s safe to say they didn’t posses the skills necessary to handle all of the ‘dumb’ orders.
At one point, Dumb Starbucks was giving away free cups of coffee to their customers. This combined with their unorthodox branding let to some incredibly long wait lines. After waiting in line for hours, customers could order Dumb Venti Lattes, Dumb Tall Blonde Roast and dozens of other Dumb Coffees. The establishment even sold CDs, coffee mugs and other products that are commonly found in Starbucks coffee shops.
Dumb Starbucks is the work of Comedy Central’s Nathan Fielder, who recently claimed he was going to use footage of the Dumb Starbucks stunt in his upcoming show. Fielder also voiced plans to open a second Dumb Starbucks in Brooklyn, New York, but the massive media publicity surrounding his first store has made him reconsider.