Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Starbucks Doesn't Think I'm Sexy

So there's this new (I think) commercial on for Starbucks Frappuccino-in-a-bottle. I've only seen it once (it's also noted here, here, and here), but as far as I can reconstruct it, it goes like this:

There's a shot of an Asian guy reading, possibly in an office break room. He's wearing something like '50s nerd glasses, but they're really retro-nerd glasses, so the effect is, I presume, ironic. For a moment I'm having that odd exhiliration angry asian man reported on a few weeks ago: the possibility of seeing an Asian on television in a totally normal role.

A blonde woman (also wearing glasses) enters the room and opens a large refrigerator, inside which is a Starbucks Frappuccino. As she reaches for it the refrigerator door blocks the face of the Asian guy. When she closes the door, Frappuccino in hand, the Asian guy has changed into a white guy: apparently it's crooner Michael Buble, but wearing the Asian guy's nerd glasses.

He takes off the glasses and proceeds to follow the woman around the office serenading and flirting with her as her coworkers move obliviously about.

So. Drink a Frappuccino; jump-start your day; turn your dorky Asian officemate into a sexy white man.

22 comments:

Jason said...

Man I see that corny commercial every 5 minutes. Everybody gets turned into that singer in the commercial. Random guys, window cleaners, UPS person - not just the guy w/ glasses at the beginning. That Starbucks thinks Buble is sexy pretty much destroys their credibility on the issue.

GJPW said...

I noticed that commercial too, and found the disapperance of the Asian co-worker a bit sinister in its blatant erasure. But, I suppose most commercials are sinister when it comes to race.

I'd love to see what the Starbucks frappuccino does to the (invisible) Latino janitorial crew just behind one of the cubicle partitions.

Vireo Ibis said...

Another reason i pretty much stick to cartoons and horror flicks.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have seen that commercial a whole lot. By the way you sounded, you dont seem to know much about Michael Buble,(nothing wrong with that) but as a fan I can tell the whole commercial is based on him. Its not there to make fun of the asian guy, but to publicize Buble. Jason is right when he says that every guy in the commercial is turned into Michael. Even the logo is based around the title of his new CD. I think the company is taking advantage of the fact that Buble is a becoming more and more popular, and 99% chance there was nothing there meant to be racist. Heck, Buble, probably made a deal with them so they could both get publicity. It made me and a lot of other fans want to drink a frappachino. so please, stop overeacting, becuase you really are.

chen said...

tympan is right, there's no overreacting in this situation. asian american males are protrayed in the american media as the non-sexual and unwanted group of men. while on the other hand asian women are protrayed as exotic sex toys for the white man to possess. don't think it's true? look around you, whenever you see white dating asian couples, how many times do you see an asian guy with a white girl? and how many times do you see white men with asian girls? think of movies you've seen with asian men in them, often they are the stupid dorky ones who trip in the background while being mocked by the stunningly good looking white guy. if not, then they must be some super geek who is smart but can't do anything else, or some kind of martial art master who shows no emotions, how many times do you see the asian male character end up kissing the woman main character in those movies? so while this commercial may not have been intentionally racist, however, it is unconsciously promoting the negative asian male stereotype. while michael buble is great, we do not need another one of these asian male bashing commercials written by the white jerkoffs with their sickening fantasies.

Anonymous said...

You're reading into the commerical way too much and finding something that's not there. To think that starbucks commerical is racist is absolutely ridiculous.

If the guy who disappeared happened to white, would anyone think it was racist? I think they put an Asian guy in there because they didn't want everyone in the commerical to be white. The commerical is about Buble and the hot chic.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other anonymous people you are reading way too much into this. They were just publicizing Michael Buble. While I do believe that asian guys do get bashed quite a bit I don't think this commercial meant that. Plus I've heard some asian guys say that they only like asian girls so whats with that.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments re: the ad concept. I think the asian was the pinnacle of edgy and hot, but the ad has a brief time to convey the idea of the singer courting the girl with one swig of java and she enters her fantasy, hence a very contrasting look, the dark hair and edgy, hip to the boy-next-door to convey the message quickly.

Dustin said...

Um, thanks for reducing the roles Asians will get. This is a simple commercial that has every guy in the office building turned into Michael Buble in the mind of this one lady. The first guy we see happens to be Asian. I'm sad their attempt at adding a little diversity to their commercials has made so many people mad. The next time any company takes a similar idea, they aren't going to hire any Asian/Black/Hispanic/Indian actors as extras because they'll be too afraid people will react this way. There goes more out-of-work minority actors.

T said...

the issue is that not many recognize Michael Buble as someone famous so instead read the ad as her fantasizing about an ethnically homogenized world.

i have a problem with any ad changing anyone's ethnicity no matter what the circumstances of the change might be. that's just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Here's a simple test to see if there are racial overtones. Substitute the asian guy for a black guy. Now show this commercial to Al Sharpton, Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle. If you had to place a 1000 dollar bet on their reaction, what would you pick?

Their Response:
a) "There's absolutely nothing offensive here"
b) "This commercial bugs me" --or possibly an angrier variant

If you pick a, then you're delusional :P. If you pick b, then you're saying that there're racial overtones to this commercial. Simple as that. If you are one of those anonymous people who say that everyone is overreacting, AND you pick b, you are semi intelligent, not delusional, but definitely not smart enough to connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be Micahel Bubble? cant it be Jet Li or Chow Yun-Fat with a hot chic? The point is not about diversity or minority actor, its the roles that they are playing.

Anonymous said...

a: chris rock only tells jokes along the lines of "black people do this, white people do this" and if any white man told the same jokes, he would be called a racist.
b: dave chappelle is openly a racist, and openly hateful towards white people. dont know if he's just joking or doing it for publicity, but it still pretty funny.

if i can watch chappelle show (like a lot of white men do) and find it funny when he makes fun of white men, why do you have to be so angry about how one person was turned into michael buble? good lord, chapelle openly mocks asian people, why not rant about him?

honestly, i only found this thread while searching for the identity of the starbucks girl, honestly, i never noticed the asian man in the beginning before now.

you know what else? the guy at the end with the flowers, when he reverts back to normal, he does look a little french, why aren't you defending the french while you're at it?

if i were to guess, and i'm going to, i dont think the guy in the beginning was asian, i think he was probably american, wouldnt make sense for starbucks to fly in extras from overseas for a commercial when there are plenty of actors in-country.

Wench said...

Although I like the "Come fly With Me" sonmg int his comemrcial, I think the "nerdy" asian guy is WAY hotter than the singer who replaces him. He's cute and he has great hair. The singer has a nice voice but doesn't make we want to fly away...excapt back to work where the sexy asin guy is drinking his coffee in the brak room.

Anonymous said...

asian guys: hot doesn't matter if chinese, japanese, korean, vietmanese, ect. white female here saying asian guys are a turn on. they come with a built in tan, they got that cool eye thing, nice proportioned face, and don't all chics like guys with accents?

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cee said...

POSTED EARLIER:
"...honestly, i never noticed the asian man in the beginning before now."
AFTER I READ THE REST OF YOUR POST, THIS COMMENT MADE COMPLETE SENSE. I AM SURE THAT YOU DID NOT NOTICE HIM.
"you know what else? the guy at the end with the flowers, when he reverts back to normal, he does look a little french, why aren't you defending the french while you're at it?"
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO 'LOOK FRENCH'? I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE COMMERCIAL, BUT PEOPLE WHO ARE FRENCH ARE EUROPEAN, I.E. WHITE.
AND BRINGING THIS POINT UP MAKES NO SENSE BECAUSE AS YOU STATED, THE PERSON REVERTED BACK TO THAT STATE. DOES THE ASIAN GUY GO 'BACK TO NORMAL'?

"if i were to guess, and i'm going to, i dont think the guy in the beginning was asian, i think he was probably american, wouldnt make sense for starbucks to fly in extras from overseas for a commercial when there are plenty of actors in-country."
THE FACT THAT YOU SEPARATED ASIAN AND AMERICAN (AS IF THIS ACTOR CAN'T BE CALLED BOTH ASIAN IN ETHNICITY AND AMERICAN IN NATIONALITY)LEADS ME TO THINK THAT YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT OF THIS THREAD. WHEN PEOPLE DESCRIBE THE ACTOR AS ASIAN, THEY MEAN 'OF ASIAN DESCENT', WHICH MEANS HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN BORN IN AN ASIAN COUNTRY. YOU CAN BE ASIAN AND AMERICAN AT THE SAME TIME.

P.S.ALTHOUGH I WAS REALLY UPSET BY THIS POST, I'M ONLY IN CAPS BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO DIFFERENTIATE THE FONTS...THAT I KNOW OF.

dixlesic said...

No, she's just supposed to see michael in every man she sees.
Did you not notice the window cleaners, and the man holding the flowers who turns back into a not michael buble?
Oh no!
THEY HAVE A NON AMERICAN MAN TURN INTO A SEXY MICHAEL BUBLE! WHAT A HORRIFIC AND CRUEL WAY TO...BE MEAN...TO ASIANS!
DIE STARBUCKS, DIE.
Like, OMGSH, I am SOOOO going to like boycott starbucks in their "sinister..ly..ness" when it comes to race.

Obviously wer'e only allowed to have White, Americans in our commercials and Tv.
Because someone might get offended.

MRSBUBLE1 said...

micahel you are sexy dont worry about it..... thats all i have to say.....

taesu said...

hahahahahha oh my goodness. Dear Lord. I am seriously cracking up. When I watched this commercial I thought that it was adorable and I loved Buble's voice and i thought that he was sexy and hott. A moment did not pass by when i was like " OH MY GOD ASIAN MAN TURNS INTO BUBLE IM GOING TO GO AND ATTRACT ATTENTION TO MYSELF BY POSTING EVERYWHERE THAT STARBUCKS IS BEING RACIST" You guys are being COMPLETLY rediculous. Grow up. Please. It's just a commercial to advertise buble and guess what...it worked. so just please calm down. This kind of argument is something that little girls and boy would start........ except they probably have more sense then you to agrue about something rediculous like this.

Oh and by the way...... I'm asian. And I'm not offended at all.

David said...

Firstly I will say that the commercial may or may not be racist, I have no idea and I have not seen it, since I live in England. What I do know is that America is predominantly populated by white people, and because of this, advertisers mainly advertise to that market because of its significant size. A consequence of this fact means that large ethnic communities are marginalised. Those are just the facts. This however does not mean racism is not present in this or any other advert.

To clarify what racism is, it is the feeling of SUPERIORITY one has over another race because of ones own race. This should not be confused with racial discrimination.

I'm responding to something I commonly encounter amongst white people. I don't know whether it is denial or genuine ignorance, but I am often struck by the degree to which they are unaware of the subtle and insidious form racism can take. The thing about racism is that it can be so subtle that one can be a racist and not know it, even liberals and left wingers. Years of white pre-eminence in the world can infiltrate even the most guarded subconscience and convince it of white supremacy. Racism or racist people, to many, conjure up images of the Klu Klux Klan or other overt displays of prejudice. If we only had to worry about these extremes, racism would be less significant than it is.

The problematic racism is subtle, very subtle, and it often works by omissions and negligence, subtley reinforcing deeply held assumptions. One example is the description of tights for ladies as 'nude' when it is plainly obvious that this does not apply to black women. Such negligence suggests that black, asian and other non-white ethnic groups are not important or not significant. This kind of thing has an effect on peoples outlook.