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.