Starbucks Gets an Agent

Discussion
May 02, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


There’s no doubt about it. Starbucks has definitely gone Hollywood.


The coffee chain announced yesterday that it had authorized the Hollywood talent agency, William Morris, to help it identify film, music and book projects for distribution through its stores.


Starbucks founder Howard Schultz has always maintained that the company is about lifestyle and not simply a chain of coffee shops.


“We believe Starbucks is a very powerful distribution channel,” Mr. Schultz said in a news release, “which is why we are so pleased to be working with the largest diversified talent and literacy agency in the world, William Morris Agency, to bring our customers even more forms of entertainment.”


The CEO of William Morris, Jim Wiatt, said, “As they extend their reach into broader forms of entertainment, we couldn’t be more pleased and honored to be working with Starbucks.”


Starbucks has enjoyed success with its distribution of music titles such as Ray Charles’ album of duets, Genius Loves Company, but it has gotten off to something of a slow start with its first venture into the movie business.


The company signed an agreement to market Lionsgate’s Akeelah and the Bee, but the film got off to a slow start at the box office despite a three-month build-up in Starbucks’ stores and web site.


Starbucks did not invest in the production of the movie and it has no plans to do so in the future, said Mr. Schultz. 


Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to Starbucks hiring the William Morris Agency to help it find entertainment
projects to market? Is Starbucks about lifestyle and not just its beverages as Howard Schultz preaches?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Starbucks Gets an Agent"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Nothing is lost by testing and exploring, and given Starbucks’ financial strength, they certainly can afford to explore nontraditional ideas. Entertainment items are always being discussed by the public so any related publicity helps Starbucks remain high in mindshare.

Ian Percy
Guest
14 years 10 months ago
Because a company has been successful at creating a social experience centered around overpriced coffee does not mean they have access to the customers entire life. When you try to broaden a good experience into unrelated territory you dilute and diminish what you had in the first place. Greed will gradually do you in. Starbucks is a place you go to calm down, for conversation and networking – maybe to send a few emails and read the morning paper. It is not the place you go to watch or buy movies or to buy CDs. What’s next – hair products and food supplements? Keep the focus on the coffee! Now I had a thought after church this past Sunday – and I offer this in case someone from the company actually reads this. Starbucks should go to church! Many churches create a networking time before or after the service by serving coffee, etc. Maybe if they moved to “Now serving Starbucks Coffee” they’d bring in we sinners by the bus load. Given that some mega… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
14 years 10 months ago

You have to admire Starbucks’ image of themselves. They are a perfect example of why a good person at the top can result in a great company below. Howard Schultz’s ability to imagine the impossible then make it happen is key to their success. His recognition of how to treat his employees shows everyone how to manage teams. By being creative and taking the “Starbucks phenomena” beyond a mere beverage service he has shown other retailers what it means to become the “consumer’s choice.” Will the additional offerings succeed? Who knows? But if all they need is an engaged workforce that is anxious to get results, then I am sure they will.

Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
14 years 10 months ago

I think anyone who has visited Starbucks understands that they are focused on “emotionally connecting” with their shoppers. That builds loyalty in multidimensional ways; including but certainly not limited to selling coffee. I’m sure you have witnessed both successful and some failed attempts at this loyalty building in the past by Starbucks, but always in an attempt to focus on greater emotional connections with Starbucks customers.

Starbucks has demonstrated that they will constantly test concepts and ideas all in efforts to enhance this important goal of building Starbucks emotional brand connections, and partnering with people who know and understand best the entertainment field simply makes good sense in their pursuit of that goal.

Starbucks sees their place with consumers as far more than a coffee shop, so you can expect other demonstrations of emotional loyalty development, just as we see with this one.

Don Van Zandt
Guest
Don Van Zandt
14 years 10 months ago

We are talking about a coffee shop here! There are 3 or 4 other coffee chains out there expanding and doing overpriced coffee. Does the thought of Krispy Kreme’s overexposure pop to mind for anyone else?

McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and practically every other food retailer on the planet is working to upgrade their coffee offerings. They don’t have the ambiance and cachet of Starbucks, but as more and more Starbucks outlets open (there are 3 in my small Texas town now) the “aura” of the brand diminishes.

I certainly admire expansion and new ideas, but I sure hope someone is spending a lot of time making sure the brand they are trying to leverage does not get “stale” and overexposed.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
14 years 10 months ago

Starbucks is in the business of relaxation. A little coffee, some nice music, reading a book; all in the effort of creating an experience. I don’t see why they shouldn’t have an agency to take them to another level. However, I don’t think they will be passing around a plate to pay for it.

Gwen Kelly
Guest
Gwen Kelly
14 years 10 months ago

True confession here…I am a big supporter of branded entertainment when the opportunity is both strategically and tactically aligned. While I believe the opportunity to sell CD and DVD product in Starbucks stores has shown the company some good results, I must admit I did not quite understand – from a marketing perspective – the selection of the movie Akeelah and the Bee for the company’s initial foray in the movie marketing business. Primary reason: I didn’t see the movie’s subject so much aligned with Starbucks customer profile like one would see in that of a package goods marketer, e.g. Kellogg’s. However, Starbucks’ decision to retain WMA in providing counsel in navigating this aspect of the entertainment minefield is a wise one. And I am in agreement with Ian; if Starbucks ever considered a faith-based marketing strategy, I am sure they would see divine results serving up the brew for the faithful’s social hour.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

With a Vice President of Entertainment, the fact that Starbucks is exploring new areas is not surprising. Starbucks views itself as an entertainment company creating community rather than a coffee company. As with each experiment, the question is whether this new project has strong appeal with consumers and is effective at creating community.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Not to disagree with Ian…BUT…through their HEAR Music association, Starbucks has become a place to buy CDs. Maybe it isn’t the place to buy the new Springsteen (although they sell it)…but the HEAR Music stuff (only available at Starbucks) is developing a fairly decent list. Don’t know if they could extend the same principle to DVDs other than music DVDs, but who knows? As to a publicist…why not? As Camille correctly points out, they are in the entertainment business.

Rajat Dogra
Guest
Rajat Dogra
14 years 10 months ago

It looks like someone in the management says that every company is doing something new, but we are not. So let’s do something about it. Getting DVDs there means extra people coming to have a look, which can cause chaos, noise and extra burden on the staff. Starbucks needs to realise “why” someone goes there. It’s the coffee and the ambiance. If I lose the ambiance, I lose the clientele. Things which associate more with relaxing should be introduced rather than excitement. Yes, there is a small difference between a relaxing and a boring environment. Every single customer who sits there also contributes to the ambiance. Imagine someone on a mobile phone, talking in a loud voice; others feel irritated about it. Now imagine lots of teenage guys coming to see the movie collection? Seriously, Starbucks should think twice before introducing something out of their line.

Campbell Dodson
Guest
Campbell Dodson
13 years 11 months ago

While Howard Schultz no doubt made Starbucks the powerhouse it is today, he is not the founder. He was an employee who left to start his own coffee company, then later purchased Starbucks.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Does Howard Schultz give Starbucks too much, too little or the right amount of credit for being a lifestyle experience rather than simply an upscale coffee shop?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...