Trying to build a strong brand presence quickly is no small
feat. But in the world of cable programming today, it's crucial.
That's one reason why cable and Internet start-up Oxygen
Media struck a strategic alliance with Starbucks Corp. earlier this month.
In just a few short years, Starbucks has put its name on
the map -- and about 2,000 Starbucks shops on street corners across the continent.
Starbucks has created a loyal following of 9 million customers each week.
Oxygen chairman Geraldine Laybourne compared the brand
strength that Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has created with what she is trying to
achieve with Oxygen.
"Schulz is a brand-builder," Laybourne said,
"and the content we will have on air will be tremendously congruent with Starbucks
"What we plan to do is to cultivate a community that's
not only in our stores today, but also on the Internet," added Starbucks vice
president of marketing Scott Ferris, a former MediaOne Group Inc. marketing executive
who's still actively involved with the Cable and Telecommunications Association for
Starbucks customers shop not just for coffee, Ferris said,
but to visit an environment that allows them to detoxify from the pressures of their
professional lives. "It's been described to me as a moment to be by myself with other
people," Ferris added.
Key to both Oxygen's and Starbucks' marketing strategies
are their branded Web sites, designed to create communities among their respective
Eventually, Starbucks may merge its retail and online
worlds by adding interactive kiosks and Internet access at its coffee shops. The company
currently runs a "Bohemian café" concept store called Circadia in the warehouse
district of San Francisco, where it showcases technology by day and music groups at night.
While the details of the Oxygen/Starbucks alliance are
still being hashed out, Laybourne said, there might be opportunities for Oxygen to promote
Starbucks on-air. And Oxygen and Starbucks may promote each other's services and
e-commerce offers on their respective Web sites.
Ferris said Starbucks plans to expand beyond selling
coffee. It has started building a global media business, with components that could
include broadcast and radio, in addition to its cable deal with Oxygen and an Internet
strategy that it expects to announce next month.
In mid-June, Starbucks published its first issue of Joe,
a quarterly magazine for sale at Starbucks stores and on its Web site.
-- Linda Moss contributed to this story.