In the last week a new shop has opened up called “Dumb Starbucks” in Los Angeles. It was created as an art gallery that served coffee. The whole store was outfitted to be a replica of Starbucks, but in front of everything was the word ‘dumb’. When the gallery opened this past weekend lines were out the door and down the sidewalk. People were waiting hours to get a sip of this “dumb” coffee. The first question everyone had is how is this allowed to be called “Dumb Starbucks” with no affiliation to the actual brand, Starbucks? Well these questions were answered at a little FAQ board also near the cash register. As a parody brand certain legalities are allowed. When Starbucks was asked, they said they were looking into this because they have a protected trademark on the name.
What about the coffee? Reviews were less than stellar with curious patrons saying, “The hot chocolate tastes like water,” and “My latte tasted bitter.” So for an awful cup of coffee, why are so many wasting their time and money? It was the novelty. While Starbucks is a well-known and highly respected brand, when people hear about a new place that is not only going to rival it but pretty much wave a finger in a corporations face, people are going to watch.
Within days Dumb Starbucks was shut down by health inspectors just as the owner Nathan Fielder was having a press conference on his new brand and hopes to expand the chain to Brooklyn, New York. What came out of all this was great marketing for the man behind it all, Nathan Fielder, the host of Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You”. His show’s premise is bad advice to small business and here he took it to another level. While his gallery’s short run did well it was because of the parody of it, a sort of sticking it to the man. And from all that hype, he made a name for himself. Later in the week he was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel explaining the rise and fall of Dumb Starbucks making the crowds roar with laughter when asked about shut down, “What they don’t understand is, technically, legally speaking, we’re an art gallery, and the coffee we’re selling is considered the art, and art galleries don’t need health permits,” and about his questionable coffee, “Our coffee and our beans were just usually whatever Ralphs had on sale that day.”
So turns out making something dumb, may have been the smartest move Nathan Fielder made to market his show and his talent. Everyone’s laughing at Dumb Starbucks but with increasing viewings and fame, looks like he had the last laugh.