Dumb Starbucks – Incredible Marketing Ploy or Confusing Business Fail?

Dumb Starbucks – Incredible Marketing Ploy or Confusing Business Fail?

If you haven’t yet heard about “Dumb Starbucks” it’s time to check it out. Dumb Starbucks popped up in a shopping center in Loz Feliz, California last weekend, handing out free coffee to celebrate its opening day. It looks, sounds and feels exactly like a Starbucks – except that the word “Dumb” is in front of every “Starbucks”, down to the menu sizes listed. Don’t believe me?

The new coffee shop was certainly aware of the controversy it’s causing and posted a FAQ announcing it operates thanks to a “parody law”. As you can imagine, the real Starbucks is less than pleased and is “looking into it right now”.

So, are you in the camp that thinks this is a bizarre but clever business model, or a wildly ridiculous and unsustainable marketing ploy? If you are in the ridiculous camp, you’re right. The “CEO” of the shop revealed himself yesterday as the star of a Comedy Central show, “Nathan For You”. Right as the Department of Health Services hit them with a closure notice for operating without a public health permit.

However, #DumbStarbucks was the top trending hashtag on Twitter in LA and hundreds of people showed up to wait in line for hours to check out this new hot spot and grab some free coffee. If Nathan Fielder was looking for free publicity and some instant notoriety, he certainly got it.

On a side note, if you’re worried that this could happen to you under a parody law, as long as your name and logo are trademarked you should be on the safe side. Anyway, if you didn’t get your free coffee this weekend, thanks to the Health Department it’s too late. But stay tuned – I have a feeling Dumb Starbucks isn’t quite gone yet!

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