Fielder said he needed to use the word “dumb” to make the stunt legal. No matter. Starbucks, saying its trademark was violated, is considering legal action.
Attorneys for the Viacom-owned Comedy Central believe the store is a “parody” protected by freedom of speech. Fielder regularly does pranks and parodies on his show -- and even inspires his viewers to do the same.
How does this reflect on Viacom? Its channels like MTV have always proved that rebellion and a healthy sense of mockery works best in engaging viewers.
Making fun of a brand to give it an unusual promotional push might work with a willing advertiser. Did Starbucks need that? Probably not. For many well-known brands, attaching the word “dumb” next to them might be a difficult way to extract positive marketing value.
Starbucks did say it appreciated the humor, but not much else. Fielder says Starbucks will lose him as a customer if it pressures him. So watch out, Starbucks (wink, wink).
Big consumer brands like Starbucks have always had their lovers and haters.
If Starbucks had been a sponsor or promotional partner of any of Viacoms networks, perhaps someone would have been on to something. In the meantime, I’m guessing someone will start up -- just for fun -- a Dumb Comedy Central network or show. Promotion works best when it’s a win-win situation.