Woman revs up coffee shop by using video of her for free marketing

One woman says a Dallas-based coffee shop chain is using a video of her, taken without her permission, to promote the business, even after she requested the video be removed.

Debra Johnson posted a TikTok on Tuesday calling out employees at the La La Land Kind Cafe for recording her without her permission and uploading the footage to TikTok. Johnson says she was “ambushed” by cafe employees who pranked her.

“They followed me down the street while I was minding my business. They stopped behind me and blocked me. They pranked me while they were recording me,” Johnson says on TikTok, which had over 18,000 views as of Wednesday. She says she was nervous during the incident, although she is seen laughing in the video.

The company regularly posts “drive-by kindness” videos on TikTok, including one that received over 24 million views.

La La Land Kind Cafe’s website states that the company aims to “set an example that all businesses can and must care about our people, our planet and our communities.” The website also states that the cafe hires adults who have aged from foster care.

Johnson says the cafe specifically uses black women “for marketing without consent or compensation” and that she asked La La Land to remove TikTok, which had over 9 million views as of Wednesday.

“I’m not their customer and they have to take [the TikTok] down,” Johnson says in her video.

@bydebrajohnson #stitch with @lalalandkindcafe La La Land Kind Cafe and @TikTok refuse to remove the #LaLaLandKindCafe marketing video I was shot and posted in without consent. #payblackwomen #blackgirltiktok #blackcreators #normalizekindness #drivebykindness #spreadkindness #bekind #fyp #bipoctiktok #htx #houstonblogger #dallasblogger ♬ Original soundtrack – Debra

While comments on La La Land’s original video are positive, Johnson’s TikTok received support for La La Land allegedly failing to comply with their demands.

“You are so right. If they don’t want to compensate you, they can remove the video of you from their site,” commented @weedsmoothie.

“She asked them to take it down and that should be the end,” wrote @certifiedtextures.

“You’re right about that,” commented @theeverydaylady. “They make it seem like they’re doing something so great.”

In the follow-up Tiktoks, Johnson shares a screenshot of a message she sent to La La Land on TikTok, screen shots of herself reporting the video twice, and an email she sent to the restaurant. In the comments on a TikTok, Johnson says she’s also messaged La La Land on Yelp and LinkedIn.

Johnson’s message to TikTok references a “Texas law” that says the cafe “must obtain a permit prior to posting [her] Likeness.” Texas defines misappropriation of a person’s likeness as being used for the benefit of another person, usually commercially. If Johnson could prove in court that La La Land used her image to her advantage, she could potentially be financial receive compensation.

The Daily Dot contacted La La Land Kind Cafe via email and Johnson via TikTok comment.

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*Initial publication: May 25, 2022 3:38 pm CDT

Tricia Crimmins

Tricia Crimmins is the IRL Editor at the Daily Dot. She is also a New York-based comedian studying at Columbia Journalism School. She has previously written for Mashable, Complex Networks and Moment magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @TriciaCrimmins.

Tricia Crimmins

https://www.dailydot.com/irl/la-la-land-kind-cafe-video/ Woman revs up coffee shop by using video of her for free marketing

Jaclyn Diaz

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