Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pressure with your coffee?

It must be tough running a cafe. 

For instance, I walked into one today with an art director friend and his writer during lunch break.
Brick walls? Check. Handwritten chalk boards? Check. Cement floor? Check. Warehouse settings? Hanging lightbulbs? ...

Ok I quite liked their red hanging lightbulbs.
I took out my camera and before I could take a 3rd shot this dude with stubbles and blood-shot eyes (possibly the owner) came up to me and said 'who're you with?'

I was like 'what?'

'Who're you with?'


'No I'm serious. What are you doing here? Who are you with?'

Dude. My friend is taking away lunch. I'm not with anyone. I'm admiring your cafe. 

'You want to take photos you talk to me first. Understand?' 

Ok, I'll delete these photos then. 

'Seriously, who are you with?'

This is when I walked away, back to my friends while making a mental note never to step foot in this place again.

It must be tough running a cafe.

I started looking around, and I see Asians making the coffee and sandwiches in the back. Efficient workforce. Their name is 'Espresso' followed by the postcode 3121. Very clever SEO wise. Single origin coffee and petite dessert. Textbook. Old school Coca-Cola glass bottle? Nice. 

I admit it's partly my fault for not asking for permission, but why the the paranoia? 

More importantly, why the attitude? As far as I'm concerned who-are-you-with is a question used on mafias and Chinese triads when a stranger causes trouble in a turf. Is it because of competition? Is it fear of bad reviews? The fear of someone stealing the 'style' that is readily available on other cafe blogs? To the extent that you see a camera you think publicity and espionage, like McDonald's?

This reminded me of an Anthony Bourdain's article that I read recently about activists going to the extreme to ban foir gras. They sent a celebrity chef video clips of his own children playing in his backyard saying 'we're watching' as a threat for him to take the item off his menu.

This is food we're talking about. Not biological warfare.

And it's heart breaking from a marketer's point of view. This guy could've just said 'yea man, cool camera, send me some photos when you're done', and I probably will be writing a completely different post today.

6 years ago I was at a Moby concert and he said, 'If you want to take photos of me, remember to turn off the flash. They turn out better that way.' 

6 years ago.

Are we going backwards with self-promotion?