Coffee Marketer Confirms Dismissal of BBDO West
LOS ANGELES–BBDO West appears to be in trouble on the Starbucks Coffee account. Sources close to the agency said last week the Seattle-based coffee company was preparing to dismiss the shop.
A Starbucks representative would only say, “We’re in a transition period. We will be moving the business, but I have no more details to share.” Tom Hollerbach, president and chief executive officer of BBDO West in Los Angeles, referred calls to the client.
Although it only spends about $5 million a year on measured media, Starbucks is viewed as a dynamic marketer that is watched closely by retail and fast-food giants.
Starbucks’ core account is likely headed to Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis, whose creative director, David Lubars, joined from BBDO West in April. Fallon also handles United Airlines, whose ads tout on-board service of Starbucks coffee. The shop declined comment.
Lubars’ association with Starbucks dates back to 1995, when he worked BBDO’s way into a review after the contenders list was closed. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco won that pitch, but Lubars’ bid made a lasting impression. Starbucks moved its account to BBDO West last year without a review.
When Lubars joined Fallon, speculation was rife that Starbucks would follow. Lubars and the shop have issued repeated denials, but sources said he has maintained contact with Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz.
Even if Fallon does not win the main account, it could make other inroads. Ad duties are still undetermined on a new agreement with Kraft Foods to distribute Starbucks in supermarkets.
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