Thursday, May 04, 2006


Would You Like a Grande Mocha Frappachino Latte With That Movie?

While Stonyfield Farms attempts to save the world with its short Internet film, the coffee bar giant, Starbucks, has thrown its hat into the feature film production ring with the formation of Starbucks Entertainment and the recent release of Akeelah and the Bee, a fictional account of one girl's road to the National Spelling Bee contest -- a film which seems to take its lead from the excellent, Oscar-nominated (and similarly themed) documentary Spellbound. Starbucks has seemingly invested a fair amount of marketing dollars behind this inaugural release, leveraging its outlets nationwide to promote it. The larger question here is, "Should a coffee bar franchise be producing films?" Sure, the stores seem to be able to push special compilation CDs with their Grande Mocha Frappachino Lattes (heck, a few years ago, I even bought the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas at Starbucks), but the company's venture into magazine publishing some years earlier, Joe, was dead in the water. It was a magazine about...well everything. The lack of focus seemed to give readers little reason to know why they should read it. Now comes an attempt at movie production. Will this have a similar lack of focus? Will customers even care if the Starbucks brand is extended to a motion picture? Does that connection even matter? At least in theory, with the magazine Joe, customers could sit for a few hours and read the publication at a store -- perhaps even strike up a conversation with another customer and maybe, just maybe, buy another Tall Decafe Latte Supremo. I have no doubt Starbucks will use its locations to push its own films once they become available on DVD, but to be honest, I fail, at the moment, to see the logical brand extension here. Akeelah and the Bee opened soft, but, reportedly, Starbucks still plans to release more films in the future.

My understanding of Starbucks is one of a more socially concious company. They don't buy cheap coffee that puts laborers out of work. They pay they own workers a decent wage and if they work part time are entitled to health care. They encourage artist and in general champion the underdog. So then it seems logical to me that an organization such as this, even if it is a coffee house, would launch an independent film. And if it does them some business, Woo hoo! We need more good guys and less corporate greed.
Starbucks may not be totally "the good guy" as ohio girl suggests. They are a major Corporation. Yes they have a good reputation, but remember all corporations are in it for the money, which means the individual is put second.
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