Agency behind gentrification sign: Our ad was ‘callous, naive and uninformed'

DENVER – The advertisement agency responsible for creating a coffee shop board sign that roused the ire of Five Points residents after a joke about gentrification turned sour admits that in hindsight, they made a mistake.

“Our campaign was callous, naive and uninformed to the true character of the neighborhood and to those who have long called it home,” a social media manager for Cultivator Advertising & Design, Inc., wrote on Facebook during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The company apologized not only to Five Points residents for the now-viral ink! Coffee sandwich board sign which read it was “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014,” but also to neighbors living in RiNo and Curtis Park.

The ad agency added they wanted to “offer a cynical perspective on the rapid development” that neighborhoods like RiNo are currently undergoing.

“What we quickly and painfully realized, however, is that we uncovered an enormous blind spot on the true meaning of gentrification and its most legitimate and honest interpretation,” the online post stated.

The latest round of apologies still did nothing to quell the disbelief from people on social media, who mocked the company for hiring “precious white dudes in Warby Parker glasses” and who suggested the agency speak with people of color, who have been the most affected by gentrification in the area.

The outrage over the ad has been such that a day after photos of the sign spread through social media, residents in the area woke up to find the coffee shop had been vandalized with the words “WHITE COFEE” in all-black caps.

“When our advertising firm presented this campaign to us, I interpreted it as taking pride in being part of a dynamic, evolving community that is inclusive of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and gender identities,” said ink! Coffee founder Keith Herbert on the company’s Facebook page. “I recognize now that we had a blind spot to other legitimate interpretations.”

To add to ink! Coffee’s troubles, nearly 600 people have shown interest in participating in a protest to be held outside the location on 29th and Larimer on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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