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Do movies fit starbucks?

April 29, 2006

Starbucks recent initiative to help promote Lion’s Gate’s movie Akeelah and the Bee is an interesting one. The company has even run corporate advertising trying to explain its strategy, claiming it is a natural extension of its move into music.

However, Influx fundamentally disagrees, the movie imitative is very different for 3 reasons:

1. Movies Don’t Enhance the Store Ambience

Movies aren’t a natural fit with the stores- for obvious reasons, unlike music, they don’t enhance the environment and the experience

2. By Selecting One Movie- Starbucks shifts from editor to pusher

Starbucks’ music initiative has been about bringing a range of new artists to consumers attention and with its Opus series they have helped people understand a little bit more about the musical influences of their favorite musicians. In addition, the CD burning initiative, currently only in a limited number of stores, is about choice and range. Pushing one movie is just, that pushing one movie.

3. If Starbucks Wants a National Debate- it should host the debate in its stores

Akeelah and the Bee is an uplifting feel good movie, but there’s a social agenda at the heart of it. This is one of the reasons Starbucks is getting behind it, but unlike music, consumers are forced to think about an issue and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Lion’s Gate wanted to tap into the volume audience that Starbucks attracts every day. They are using the stores as media: you can see it with the chalkboard written countdowns to the movie’s release date, cup holders and word definition stickers around the store.

Influx believes that Starbucks needs to think hard about its movie strategy and how its stores are used to promote them.

Just simply being another media outlet for a studio isn’t best for the brand. If Starbucks want to push a social agenda, cool, just be clear about it and maybe think of ways the stores could be used as salons or forums to encourage that debate.

All movies are temporary, but the issues some like Akeelah manage to raise aren’t, Starbucks has the power to ensure that the conversation continues and an initiative in that space would combat any critical cries of “sell out.”

The thoughts of Starbucks customers on the movie promotion can be found here.

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