Adana Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Huseyin Oral instructed the city’s police to hang Turkish flags at the entrance of Starbucks locations across Adana on Feb. 22, in response to apologies issued by Starbucks and California-based designer Timothy Rose to the Armenian community, the Armenian Weekly reports.
The apology came after the company featured a controversial photograph—depicting women wearing what appeared to be Armenian traditional costumes and standing under balloons carrying the Turkish crescent and star—in a marketing campaign around the Los Angeles area, which angered many local Armenians.
According to Turkey’s demokrathaber.net, at least five Starbucks locations throughout Adana were draped in Turkish flags.
Oral, a member of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a Turkish far-right political party informally known as the Grey Wolves, released a statement about his decision to hang the flags:
“As it happens every year, the Armenian Diaspora, which is prepared to make unsubstantiated accusations against our country and the Turkish nation, was able to remove posters that featured our flag from Starbucks locations in the Los Angeles area. They used the influence gained by the number of Armenians in the area. We do not find it right that [Starbucks]— by accepting the reaction of the Armenians—is becoming a party to this injustice,” Oral was quoted as saying, adding, “ This year, on April 24, the Armenian Diaspora will attack the Turkish nation and Turkey with more force than in the past. They have started the year, which they see as the 100th anniversary of the alleged Armenian Genocide, with a campaign to remove our flag. We have responded to this attack by hanging our glorious flag from Starbucks shops in Adana. Our flag is sacred to us and will forever wave in every corner of our country.”
The posters that sparked this debacle were displayed at Starbucks locations throughout the Los Angeles area early on Feb. 19. The apparent attempt by Starbucks to appeal to the area’s large Armenian population proved to be a misstep for the coffee giant, as a wave of protests was quick to follow after images of the offensive poster sprung up on various social media outlets.
Soon after, Starbucks posted an apology on the ANCA’s Facebook page, promising to remove the offending photographs. The short statement read:
“Thank you to all who raised this concern to us today. 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 from our Mulholland & Calabasas store in Woodland Hills and are working to make this right.”
The photograph originated from designer Timothy Rose, whose resume includes creative design work for Coca-Cola and Nike.
On Feb. 19, Rose posted a statement on his website apologizing for the image, which he acknowledged was “rightfully offensive to the Armenian community.”