Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Starbucks cries wolf over a bar owner's "misspelling" of one of its products

Starbucks Coffee, ever popular and seen as a good corporate citizen (particularly on the health insurance issue), sent a cease-and-desist owner to the owner of the “Exit 6 Pub and Brewery” near I-64 and I-70 in Cottlesville, MO, an  exurb of St. Louis, demanding that it stop calling one of its beers “Frappicino” as a deceptive “Anglicized” misspelling of Starbuck’s own Frappuccino, a frozen coffee drink.  Is a beer the same kind of product as a coffee?

The owner, Jeff Britton, sent back a sarcastic reply and a $6 check, which was never cashed.

Elliot Hannon has a typical story on Slate here
It strikes me that Starbucks’s claim is a bit abusive.  It reminds me of a complaint over the name “Lost Dog” and a dispute between an Arlington restaurant and a West Virginia coffee store in 2012. 
Would consumers be confused?  I certainly wouldn’t, but I am reasonably well educated in how branding works, and I can easily recognize and distinguish similar but distinct names of products.  If I got off I-70 near St. Louis for lunch (don’t know when I’ll do that) I would not be “fooled”. 
Okay, the St. Louis cardinals and pitcher Michael Wacha got some more indirect PR from this. 
If you enter “Frappicno” into YouTube you get only the Starbucks product.

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