You might have noticed last weekend that people all over the Internet were talking about a new coffee shop opening in Los Feliz, CA called Dumb Starbucks. The pop-up shop featured a logo, cups, and menu that heavily resembled those of the famous Starbucks coffee chain. The new coffee spot was handing out free coffee and pastries (“Tips Appreciated”) all weekend. No one seemed to know who was behind the store, but everyone seemed to want some free coffee and one of the Dumb Starbucks coffee cups (one patron tweeted that he later sold the cup outside for $20). Lines stretched far out the door with dozens of people waiting for the free brew.
Dumb Starbucks got away with using the Starbucks logo and name under the ‘fair use’ provision in copyright law. In an FAQ posted inside the store, it was addressed:
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 actually the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”
Now it’s been revealed that comedian Nathan Fielder was behind the parody shop, admitting that Dumb Starbucks was a publicity stunt to promote the second season of his Comedy Central show Nathan for You (you can watch Season 1 on the Comedy Central website). In the show, Fielder is a business consultant, attempting to help businesses with outside-the-box promotional ideas. The comedian does have a degree in business, by the way. He said in a press conference yesterday, “There have been lines around the block, and very few small businesses get that from the start.” Soon after, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health finally showed up to shut down the establishment for operating without a health permit. Fielder mentioned that he hopes to open a second location in Brooklyn. The hipsters will just love that (but only ironically).
Check out this message from Dumb Starbucks President Nathan Fielder.