Starbucks and Patty Murray

In Washington State, candidate Tiffany Smiley is running a strong campaign against Democrat incumbent Patty Murray.  WSJ writer Kim Strassel reports that three corporations…the Seattle Times, the Seattle Seahawks, and Starbucks…have sent certified letters to the Smiley campaign with accusations of “trademark infringement” for the appearance of their logos in campaign video ads.  These all look like fair use to me.  In “Cup of Coffee,” Smiley stands in front of a derelict building. Barely visible at the top, and seen backward, is the store’s faded Starbucks sign. Ms. Smiley hits Ms. Murray for rising crime, while the ad flashes two Seattle Times headlines, one of which reads: “Starbucks to Close 5 Seattle Stores Over Safety Concerns.”

This resulted in a complaint from the Seattle Times about “unauthorized use of The Seattle Times logo and two headlines” in violation of the paper’s “copyright and trademark.”  For its part, Starbucks complained the campaign was appropriating its intellectual property, and complaining it might “create an unfounded association in the minds of consumers between Starbucks and your campaign.”  The Seahawks complaint was equally or more ridiculous.

I don’t know how many people outside of Washington State have anything to do with the Seattle Times or the Seahawks, but Starbucks is a national chain with a lot of customers, many of whom are not Democrats and are especially not Democrats of the Patty Murray variety.  The behavior of Starbucks in this matter is not very respectful of those customers, and I’d also question whether it is consistent with SBUX fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders.

There is also the question of whether actions like this represent in-kind contributions to a political campaign.  Indeed:

The Smiley campaign on Thursday filed a Federal Election Commission complaint, charging the paper with providing the Murray campaign a prohibited in-kind contribution. It turns out that Ms. Murray has also used a Seattle Times headline in her ads. Her “First 2016 Ad” sports the newspaper’s logo under the headline: “Patty Murray’s and Paul Ryan’s Teamwork Is a Model for Congress.” It seems the Times has a different legal standard for candidates it endorses.

As the FEC complaint notes, the Smiley campaign would have to spend an estimated $5,000 to remove and update the ad—“costs that Patty Murray does not have to accrue.” It cites FEC regulations that provide “if a corporation makes its resources available for free, it must do so for all candidates.”

If you’re not familiar with Patty Murray, she is the individual who, following the 9/11 attacks, said about Osama bin Laden:

He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful.

Michelle Malkin, from 2009: “I’ll never forget interviewing her many years ago when I worked for the Seattle Times editorial board. We were talking about federal entitlement spending. I asked her about FICA taxes. She didn’t know what I was talking about; when I said “payroll taxes,” she still had a frozen blank look on her face.”

Murray has also shown herself to be a nasty bigot. When lobbying against a contract award for an Air Force tanker plane to Northrop Grumman, she said:

“I have stood on the line in Everett, Wash., where we have thousands of workers who go to work every day to build these planes. I would challenge anybody to tell me that they’ve stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody building anything.”

Let’s hope that Tiffany Smiley prevails, despite the forces arrayed in support of Murray.  And you might want to let Starbucks know what you think of their behavior in this matter, and whether it is likely to affect your future patronage of their stores.

19 thoughts on “Starbucks and Patty Murray”

  1. Starbucks the people that trained the world to drink garbage coffee and like it.

    Anyone who really knows about coffee, knows that you only dark roast coffee that is crap. Pretty well all that Starbucks serves is dark roast garbage, and they have convinced the world that this garbage is really good coffee. An amazing triumph of advertising over taste.

    How do I know? I have been a bit of a coffee fanatic for a long time. My ECM Espresso machine is a moderately good one, and has served me very well for many years.

    Good, well roasted coffee is delicious, and the variety of flavours are surprising. It is nothing like the dank crap, they serve at the most world’s most successful coffee franchise.

  2. I’m not all that fond of Starbucks coffee, and the stores, which were once sometimes a convenient place to hang out or meet up, are mostly too crowded to be pleasant.

    The story of Starbucks in Israel:

    From the article, which appears in something called Better Marketing:

    “For most people living in the west, it’s hard to even imagine that a huge corporation like Starbucks can fail.”

    If any marketing professional working for me found this ‘hard to imagine’, I would be disappointed.

  3. The devil is putting on a sweater!!! I agree with PenGun!!!

    Actual Starbucks coffee tastes like rancid dishwater. It’s the only way they can get a vaguely coffee-ish (i.e. bitter and burned) note into the milkshakes they actually serve. It’s not really a matter of advertising because as far as I can tell hardly anybody drinks their actual coffee. People like sweet dairy drinks (see the popularity of McDonald’s equally fake milkshakes), and getting a ‘latte’ lets them pretend they have a cup of coffee and not a 24oz drink with no nutritional value but five hundred calories.

  4. “Starbucks the people that trained the world to drink garbage coffee and like it.”

    Before Starbucks came along most people were drinking even worse coffee. Starbucks at least built a market for better coffee. Now there are plenty of places that are better than Starbucks, but at least they started the trend.

  5. “Before Starbucks came along most people were drinking even worse coffee.”

    Not where I live, that’s for sure. We had great coffee sources throughout the 80s and before. In Vancouver and on the Island, we were used to better coffee than Starbucks ever served.

  6. I almost wish I could start boycotting Starbucks over this incident, but as I quit being a customer years ago, I lack that opportunity.

    It just wasn’t worth it. I was never a fan of their coffee yet I could always find something on their menu I could enjoy. Then one day my usual order cost me $5.78 or the like.

    Done. I suspect this happened a lot, as the Starbucks near my work went from being a common place to get coffee to completely forgotten. I don’t even know if it’s still in business.

    I have a suspicion- based upon nothing more than my feelz- that Starbucks enthusiasm for leftist politics has something to do with management’s realization that their product and their business model had lost mainstream appeal, thus inspiring them to grip ever harder onto the customers they figured would stick around regardless of price.

    That is, leftists, wealthy and otherwise. They could be trained to regard overpaying for bad coffee as a worthy virtue signal to be deployed against the slavering hordes who get bad coffee for free at work. I imagine Patty Murray goes to Starbucks every day, because she’s as dumb as a bag of lobotomized hammers.

    Anyway, this is rather similar to what I’ve read about late night TV. Realizing that some large fraction of the audience had departed forever, the leftist hosts strove to retain the audience they had, because the alternative was and remains no audience at all.

  7. It’s not so much Starbucks I’m concerned about, but the ability of the Democrats in Washington State to pull almost any competitive election out of the fire by coming up with a few barrels of ballots they suddenly “found in an old Volvo under the Montlake Bridge”.
    Oddly, those recovered ballots always trend Democrat, in a somewhat Putinesque manner.

  8. For once I find myself ahead of the curve, I’ve been boycotting Starbucks for 60 odd years with the exception of an instantly regretted croissant about 20 years ago. Since I don’t drink coffee, I’m not competent to offer an opinion on the quality. I do note that while I can’t remember ever hearing anybody praise it, they seem to be everywhere. I suppose it shows what good marketing can do. To paraphrase an old joke: “The coffee here is horrible and such big cups.”

    Given that, they can prosper only as long as they are the reliable default. Once someone starts to ask themselves why they are standing in line for mediocre coffee. (and no mass chain can aspire to better than tolerable mediocrity) the end is near. Then add in ubiquitous homeless with all their appeal and don’t forget the excitement of venturing into the restrooms. You wonder how long they’ll survive.

    Now that half the country, 60-70% some places, can make a political statement by simply finding anyone else to make their coffee, we’ll have to see what happens. The ongoing saga of their efforts to avoid unionization provides some amusement for those of us looking on.

  9. It’s not so much Starbucks I’m concerned about, but the ability of the Democrats in Washington State to pull almost any competitive election out of the fire by coming up with a few barrels of ballots they suddenly “found

    That is especially true of King County in 2004 where the Rossi campaign was upended by ballots found in a car trunk that all were for Gregoire, the Democrat. Patty Murray was originally elected as “the little old lady in tennis shoes” and has continued to show the intellect appropriate to that campaign slogan.

  10. I was braced (spamed) by Bank of America to enlist them as my financial adviser. While some might be flattered that they would consider my small potatoes worth their attention, I understand it as an attempt to recruit a captive customer for whatever they may wish to sell. I have every confidence that their concept of wealth management is mostly about managing to transfer as much of my wealth to them as possible. At my tax bracket, I would expect the fiduciary equivalent of McDonald’s haute cuisine. Not that their motivation for those in loftier brackets would be different, just more discreet.

    However, I know in my heart that I am not worthy of this fine organization. I am, unbeknownst to them, a deplorable, possibly, lately promoted to fascist (the mails being so uncertain these days). I might inadvertently unmask myself by using some of my remaining money to purchase a gun or contribute to some subversive cause like the Republican Party, leaving them no alternative but to cancel me. So… hard pass.

  11. Bad coffee – I think it was common during WWII to categorize coffee into the following grades:
    Carbon Remover

  12. However many ballots Patty Murray needs to win, those ballots will magically appear. These people bring a gun to a knife fight…Dems know how to prevail. And Conservatives have shown a lack of imagination to anticipate the fraud.

  13. Oh, Penny, you’re still here! I thought you might have been in hiding after the recent Ukrainian victories. Or were those Russian advances in the opposite direction?

    No comments on the liberation of Kupiansk? I mean Vovchansk? I mean Izium? I mean Lyman?

    The Russian army is advancing backwards so fast it’s hard for anyone, even the Ukrainian army, to keep up. How is that even possible when the entire Ukrainian army was surrounded in a cauldron and annihilated by Russian artillery?

    Or are you ready now to admit you were taken in by Russian propaganda?

  14. Hate starBUCKS and Don’t buy there. Their coffee sucks. Give me a WAWA any day – 1.50 coffee and sometimes free with their punch cards. Or cheap price specials. What’s a Venti – $2.50 or more. That’s what $16.65 a gallon if you just get a black coffee versus mine $7.50 with freebies or discount in. I use to tell my employees bitching about the price of gas (then less than $2.00 a gallon while drinking their special little fruity starBUCKS drinks what idiots they were.

  15. Their drive-up windows are what I find maddening. Ludicrous to think one would ‘drive-up’ for a custom cup of coffee. It’s nickels on the dollar to brew at home and takes less time than waiting for than the predictably more custom order in front of you in line. Other drive-up fast food entities seem to be able to route traffic away from becoming collision probabilities yet almost every Starbucks drive-up compromises already established traffic flow unrelated to the business itself.
    It seems a solid business however, humans are still in charge. yes, it can be wrecked, especially as they get bigger.

  16. Patty Murray will win.
    Ballots for her opponent will “disappear,” or many will be considered faulty and thus not valid.
    However many votes Murray needs to prevail, that number of ballots WILL BE FOUND plus more. The voting officials in King County (the greater Seattle region) will see to that , as well as the voting officials within the state capitol of Olympia, Wa. Those ballots have already been prepared; they are simply in storage somewhere and will be retrieved when needed. Rest assured EVERY one of these ballots is for Murray.
    And oh, by the way, do not be surprised if vote counting in some districts has to be put on hold for a couple of hours; you know, just to allow the vote counters a chance to tidy up a bit.

    How anybody does not realize that this election has already been decided is beyond my comprehension.

  17. How is it that public opinion goes against the Dems, but they miraculously vote in overwhelming numbers! Fishy?

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