Posted by: David Kiley on May 1, 2006
Starbucks chief Howard Schultz clearly wants to be about more than the coffee.
Back in the Fall of 2004, Schultz came to our offices to talk to BW about everything from coffee to healthcare, the music business and politics. It was my first time interviewing Schultz, but what was clear to me was that his aspirations far transcended the coffee business.
As he talked about his desire to convene a summit for CEOs to jawbone possible public policy shifts they could recommend to government about healthcare reform ( a summit that unfortunately has yet to materialize) it was plain that Schultz doesn’t want his epitaph to read: “He gave the world Iced Caramel Macchiato.”
He also waxed on about Starbucks’ music ambitions. It’s true that the chain has become a significant distributor of music. And besides deals such as marketing and distributing Ray Charles’s last CD and then Antigone Rising, Starbucks has also been a very good aggregator of music ( I like the Sam Cooke collection it has lately been selling). But, as we reported last year, the chain’s attempts at expanding its music bars where patrons could download music and burn CDs, hasn’t gone very far.
So, Starbucks recently co-produced a well-received movie, “Akeelah and the Bee,” and Schultz sees more deals like that in his future. Starbucks is seeking more movies and books to promote in the hope of duplicating the success it has had with music. It’s signing with the William Morris Agency to find more movie and book projects to market. The goal is to have one book in Starbucks stores this year, and at least two or three movies to promote and sell on DVD next year, with more projects to come.
As good as the potential is for movies, though, I think Schultz still wants to make an impact on social policy and not just pop culture.
Perhaps “Healthcare Reform: The Musical”?