Coffee giant pulling plug on pic promo plans
Has Starbucks served Hollywood its last latte?With its sales and stock price plummeting, the Seattle-based coffee giant is refocusing on its core business, coffee. That’s left little room for much else, and the company’s already started to pull the plug on its entertainment efforts. Last month, it stopped managing its Hear Music Record Label, handing control over to Concord Music Group. Hear Music formed in 1990 and was bought by Starbucks in 1999; the label was launched last year. And longtime Starbucks entertainment prexy Ken Lombard — the company’s showbiz cheerleader since 2004 — recently left to “pursue other business interests.” Starbucks has had success moving music and books. Albums like Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” won eight Grammy awards, and three of the books it offered landed on the top of the New York Times bestseller list. But the javatailer’s presence in Hollywood won’t likely be missed. Despite the power of its brand — and the promo potential of its 16,000 stores in 43 countries — the company was never really a powerful movie marketer. While Starbucks had a lot to gain from its promo pacts — it was set to receive a percentage of pics’ profits — attempts to use its coffee shops to raise awareness for “Akeelah and the Bee” and “Arctic Tale” didn’t translate to a B.O. boost for distribs Lionsgate or Paramount Classics. But don’t count Starbucks out of the Hollywood brew just yet. With Lombard’s departure, the company tapped chief technology officer Chris Bruzzo to lead its entertainment efforts. Those are expected to revolve around digital offerings, such as more free music and video downloads, started through a deal with Apple in 2006. Starbucks also is expected to continue working with the William Morris Agency to find books and music acts the company might promote. But for now, it’s remaining quiet as those plans percolate.