Starbucks Poster Photographer Apologizes to Armenian Community

A screen shot of Timothy Rose's web site on mobile device


BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Timothy Rose, the photographer responsible for a poster depicting women in Armenian traditional garb under the Turkish crescent and star, issued an apology to the Armenian community on his website Thursday, saying his intentions were not to offend.

“To all the Armenian community, I wish to apologize for the photograph taken for Starbucks from 2011. Neither I nor the photographer knew the dancers were Armenian. We were traveling around the world shooting photojournalistic images for the brand and captured this image during a festival in 2011 for Ataturk. There was no Photoshopping or models used. Once it came to my attention that this was rightfully offensive to the Armenian community, I took the image down. I am in full support of their plight and would never have knowingly supported any action that would hurt either them or cause unnecessary pain. My deepest apologies,” Rose posted on his web site.

The poster, which sprung up on several Starbucks locations around Southern California and elsewhere in the country, angered Armenians and prompted them to take to social media to voice their disappointment at the largest coffee retailer in the world. The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region immediately launched a social media campaign urging followers to document locations and call Starbucks to complain with #BoycottStarbucks message.

Starbucks issued an apology and pledged to remove all posters from stores.

In an email to Asbarez, a Starbucks spokesperson said: “Serving as a place for the community to connect is core to our business and we strive to be locally relevant in all of our stores. We missed the mark here and we apologize for upsetting our customers and the community. We have removed this art in our Mulholland & Calabasas store in Woodland Hills and are working to make this right,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Asbarez via email. The spokesperson said that the company was “looking into this to ensure this image is not in any other Starbucks locations.”

After the apology and during the entire process one question remained unanswered: Why did Starbucks, a corporation known for its ethical positions, opt to put up the posters? Another mystery is why didn’t the posters show up in any of Starbucks’ Glendale locations, which have high concentration of Armenian clientele. Several inquiries to Starbucks on this matter were not answered.

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13 Comments

  1. Vindicated Man said:

    If it’s not mere negligence or ineptitude by SBUX officers/personnel, then it’s a seed that’s been planted for a reason. We need to dig deeper here.

  2. Garen Yegparian said:

    Yet another mystery is why Armenian dancers were hanging out at an Ataturk festival!!!

    • Ara said:

      The turks often claim Armenian cultural things as their own. They claim Greek cultural things as theirs too. Honestly, they have an artificial culture based on stealing everything and acting like it has always been theirs while oppressing the people they copy. Turkey probably also wants to give a false impression that Armenians feel joyous about them to the rest of the world.

  3. Random Armenian said:

    “Another mystery is why didn’t the posters show up in any of Starbucks’ Glendale locations, which have high concentration of Armenian clientele”

    Well the poster has the Turkish flag on it, so that in itself might be one reason they didn’t put it up in Glendale. Or maybe the posters were just not widespread. There is a Turkish community in CA as well. Maybe it was targeted at them?

    One thing the take into account is as the photographer or the marketing department familiar with traditional Armenian dress?

    I think the question I’m more interested in is, who are those dancers? Are they Armenians of Turkey taking part in the 2001 celebrations? Turks in traditional Armenian dress? And why is one of them holding a Starbucks cup? Was it hers or was it given to her for the photoshoot? Did they interact with the dancers to find out who they were?

  4. Rita said:

    The anachronism was truly offensive to us in the difficult centennial year when we are constantly remembering the genocide of our forefathers and the loss of our lands.What exactly was the thought or message of this localised campaign aimed obviously at us and what amends (like a counter poster) will Starbucks offer to correct its tarnished image?Either Starbucks is clueless when it comes to history or a prey to the same dark forces involved in the Time magazine DVD.

  5. Tsoghig said:

    So all the photographer knew was that he was in Turkey, and the girls were dancing in honor of Ataturk. How was he supposed to know that it was an Armenian dance? People who do not grow up around Armenians would not know that those women were dressed in Armenian costumes. I am trying to think if my odar friends would be able to tell the difference between Armenian and Turkish dancers…I doubt it. They all know about the Genocide but I did very little to expose my myriad of odar friends to Armenian dance or music. I did a quick google image search for “traditional turkish dancers” and sorry to say but they don’t look that different from traditional Armenian dancers. But what I still don’t understand is who at Starbucks thought this was a good marketing tool for Armenians. How did this poster move through the upper echelons of the Starbucks marketing department without any rad flags appearing to anyone? It is hard to be culturally sensitive to every culture in the world, I get that but if you are marketing to a particular culture, wouldn’t Starbucks have assigned someone to do a little background research into our culture?

  6. Edvard Asatryan said:

    The p roblem is greed turkey has a lot of cash in its disposal so they just pay people money to do their dirty work and these people have no clue what they’re doing they have no clue About world history or even worse they have no clue of their own history whether they’ll be Americans or Europeans

  7. Aris said:

    Still – why would Starbucks put the turkish flag in advertisements less than a month and a half before the memorial of the Armenian Genocide. Starbucks gains nothing by showcasing that flag in LA – so why do it?

  8. Roubina said:

    Starbucks, a big corporation with thousands of stores around the world, should have done some research before running an ad which is so demeaning to Armenians. Issuing an apology after the fact is like killing someone and apologizing later on. It’s simply unacceptable. Let us remind the executives of Starbucks that the Turkish state has murdered 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago and has yet to take responsibility for the Armenian genocide, which simply means that they can do it again and again and continue to plead not guilty, by reason of their innate barbaric instinct. Maybe Starbucks executives should revisit their history manuals to avoid such a monumental lapse of judgement, which leaves a sour taste in their lattes!

  9. Roubna said:

    Starbucks, a big corporation with thousands of stores around the world, should have done some research before running an ad which is so demeaning to the whole Armenian community. Issuing an apology after the fact is like killing someone and apologizing later on. It’s simply unacceptable. Let us remind the executives of Starbucks that the Turkish state has murdered 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago and has yet to take responsibility for the Armenian genocide, which simply means that they can do it again and again and continue to plead not guilty, by reason of their innate barbaric instinct. Maybe Starbucks executives should revisit their history manuals to avoid such a monumental lapse of judgement, which leaves a sour taste in their lattes!

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