Dumb Starbucks 'Parody' Should Lead To Dumber Comedy Central Marketing Spin

Now that on-air personality Nathan Fielder of Comedy Central’s “Nathan For You” has taken credit for starting the Dumb Starbucks faux coffee store in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, many questions remain to be answered:
  • What kind of benefits were gained from this promotional stunt?
  • More important, should the “dumb” name ever be attached to entertainment brands?

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.

3 comments about "Dumb Starbucks 'Parody' Should Lead To Dumber Comedy Central Marketing Spin ".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from, network, February 12, 2014 at 4:11 p.m.

    Starbucks has always been fun to visit, if only to read their latest goofy New Age products names, or to get into debates with the clerks, ... opps, ... "baristas", when ordering a large coffee. "You mean grande?" "No, I mean LARGE." Then again, though I will drink days-old coffee at home, the absolute worst cup of coffee I ever had was from a Starbucks. I dumped it on the pavement outside. When I walked by later, there was a pothole there. I'm pretty sure there was a connection.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 12, 2014 at 6:19 p.m.

    Maybe the best thing to do in THIS case is to ignore it. It will cost Starbucks more to fight this which just seems like a dumb prank to begin with. Couldn't they think of a better descriptive word to be funny than dumb ?

  3. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, February 13, 2014 at 5:47 a.m.

    Legal action? Just for those that did not know of this prank...

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