Monday, February 25, 2008

Starbucks Says Good-bye to the Bears

Starbucks advertising image, 2007 holiday campaign

When Madison Avenue waved good-bye to Starbucks headquarters last month, I wonder if "I Love N.Y.E." by Badly Drawn Boy was playing on their iPods? When I first saw the 2007 Christmas ads on TV I could only imagine that Howard Schultz was having a stroke. Apparently he was.

Since retaking the helm as "president, ceo and chairman" of Starbucks (titles are always in lower case at SBUX), Schultz is steering the Transformation Agenda with the steady hand of an experienced captain on a tight ship.

Schultz posted seven directives in as many weeks to stockholders and partners (employees) that:

  1. Refocus the company on its customers, products and mission to be the "premiere roaster and retailer of coffee"
  2. Lay out the purpose and framework of the new organizational structure
  3. Reassure employees that the number of positions being eliminated is minimal as growth continues
  4. Inform investors that new investment will be directed internationally and that some 100 (of 7,100) company-operated locations will be closed
While the repositioning of the brand and the store environments will play out over months, not days, customers will begin to notice changes soon. A $1 "short" coffee (8 oz.) is being introduced; free AT&T WiFi service will be offered to customers; and the reheated breakfast sandwiches will be discontinued, though warmed pastries and lunch items will still be available.

In an unusual move, Schultz announced that all U.S. company stores will close between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 26th so that partners can undergo coffee training. Back in the last millenium, Starbucks considered coffee training so important to the initiation of new partners that even this consultant was required to take the full 3-hour course on the first day of our engagement with the company.

In those days management and partners shared a common belief that they were changing the retail course, outfitting an organization with an able crew with respect for their craft. The Siren on the logo provided all the cartoon imagery required to convey the message of this iconic brand. As the bunnies and bears go back to Madison Avenue, and the store experience improves, you can almost hear the Siren sing again.

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Parody of Starbucks TV ad for 2007 holidays

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