On Monday afternoon, three men were chatting at a Starbucks (SBUX) in St. Petersburg, Fla. The men, all attending the Republican National Convention as guests, had just met one another and were engaged in a spirited political discussion. One talked about his Tea Party blog. A second said how important it was for people not to take government hand-outs. The third was pleased to meet the other two: The country needs people like them to get back on its feet, he said.
One of the men eventually pulled out a flip camera and began recording the conversation to post on his blog. A Starbucks barista hustled over. The camera had to be turned off immediately, he said.
The barista, who asked not to be named, explained that prior to the convention, management had sent a notice to employees telling them that that no on-camera interviews or photo shoots could take place in Starbucks stores. If employees saw customers filming or recording, they were to put a stop to it. The barista said this has always been company policy but that during the convention, employees were on notice to be extra-vigilant.
Why the no-camera rule? Is it because the company doesn’t want the Starbucks logo to show up on political websites? “Personal photography is allowed in stores,” says spokesman Corey duBrowa. “All other filming and video needs to be approved prior. This is a standard policy year round and not convention-specific.”
Saying he can’t confirm whether employees had been told specifically to be on the lookout for Republicans caffeinating with one hand and shooting videos with the other, duBrowa adds: “Filming inside stores can be distracting to both customers and partners and interfere with the overall customer experience.”