Latte Vendor Seeks Star Treatment

Starbucks is aiming to get closer to Nike’s status as a superstar brand, last week selecting Nike shop Wieden + Kennedy to handle its $15-20 million creative and media business.

For its ability to capture “the true essence of a brand’s emotional uniqueness,” as requested in the RFP, Wieden in Portland, Ore., will reap $4-7 million in compensation (well above the typical percentage), according to the RFP.

The RFP asked contenders for case studies of “tactical efforts designed to build traffic” and samples of media plans that employ print, outdoor, guerrilla, interactive, signage and collateral, “rather than television and radio.”

One source said Wieden’s 25-plus years’ experience building Nike’s brand was a major factor in its win, as was its location, since the Seattle-based client still considers itself “a West Coast company.” The other finalist in the review was the New York office of Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Starbucks was one of two brands to debut in the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index last September, placing sixth. The coffee chain, which reported that comparable-store sales were up 11 percent year-over-year for the 26 weeks ended March 28, is continuing an aggressive global expansion push.

The search was handled by Steven Boehler, an ex-Procter & Gamble brand manager and founder of the Mercer Island Group. Six Starbucks executives listened to final presentations, including chairman Howard Schultz.

The review was launched last fall after incumbent LB Works was folded into Leo Burnett in Chicago, creating a conflict with Burnett client McDonald’s. Boehler, Wieden and Starbucks declined comment.