George Murphy, Captain of the S.S. Bigshot


Here’s an interesting interview with one of the people who have steered the big, big, BIG ships: George Murphy, founder of the Modo-Group. After law school, George went to work for “a small regional coffee roaster and retailer” which went on, quickly, to become Starbucks. He handled all of the in-house creative and design, and then went over to Coke and did the same thing, while also helping move things for McDonald’s here and there. So to say that the guy has worked with some pretty big clients (actually, not cleints, he was the in-house guy, so never mind)…let’s say, huge companies, goes without that last babbling sentence. It’s a good read and the guy seems down to earth, which is always surprising and nice, even if it shouldn’t be (this writer, like the rest of you, admits that he’s a big fat lefty and was bred as such so that any time a big corporation is mentioned, he thinks pigs dressed up as the Monopoly Man, smoking fat cigars, burning piles of hundred dollar bills, dancing atop the suffering proletariat. See? Just like you). Here’s a bit from the interview:

I was fortunate to be at Starbucks at an explosively creative and productive time. The business model was not so refined then. Big brand decisions were being made daily. Howard Schultz had assembled an incredibly talented team of executives to help him with those decisions including Scott Bedbury in marketing, Arthur Rubinfeld in Store Development, and Wright Massey in Design Development. For me, it was a crash course in brand development by some of the best in the business.

Starbucks at that time conceived of itself primarily as a purveyor of coffee and coffee drinks. In those days, even our store designs reflected this functionally efficient, austere definition – green and white – not much more. There was even a chair that we called the 10 minute chair because that’s about how long you could tolerate sitting in it!

Oh the times!