Strange Brew Blending on ‘Morning Joe’

Wayne’s World has been making the cable rounds recently. At one point in the movie Wayne is forced to interview a major advertiser on his show. Wayne was happy to do it….NOT!

This morning, I see an Ad Age article that seems eerily familiar to that very subplot. MSNBC’s Morning Joe,which has quite the lucrative sponsorhsip deal with Starbucks, had the company’s CEO Howard Schultz on for seven minutes to talk about the coffee giant’s 40th anniversary. In TV terms, seven minutes is a lifetime. There were bags of brew on set and honestly, I was surprised they didn’t do the shoot “on location” at a Starbucks near 30 Rock to have Mika’s favorite barista in the background brewing a macchiato for her.

This is unethical. And as many of you know, I ain’t the first person to bring this up. But Ad Age vacillated with the issue in its article.

The magazine felt tough questions were asked, including Starbucks’ eroding relationship with Kraft. Huh? Ad Age clarified that neither Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, or Willie Geist mention the show was sponsored by Starbucks. But Ad Age didn’t find this to be that much of a problem. It suggested a crawl at the bottom of the screen.

But this is about Morning Joe. Disclaimers are expected if not mandatory. It sharpens the line between journalistic integrity and pimping a product. Of course with all the product on-set we just “know” Starbucks owns the show. I mean is a “sponsor.”

Geist, producer, anchor, sidekick, etc., even said this, “Our regular viewers are well aware that Morning Joe is ‘Brewed by Starbucks.'” What about your irregular viewers?

Here’s my tough question: Are you going to give seven minutes to Taco Bell’s CEO Greg Creed and slobber hot sauce on a chalupa while he tells you about the 88 percent beef in their products?

There are plenty of brands out there who have anniversaries coming up and would love to have a seven-minute commercial – I mean segment – with Joe and Mika. Some of these anniversaries, like Starbucks, are newsworthy. Heck, some of these CEOs might even allow difficult questions. Unfortunately they don’t have $10 million (or more) invested in your show. This takes product integration to a whole other level.

Morning Joe staff: enjoy the flood of e-mails from every PR firm looking for a national hit. And PR firms, enjoy being turned down. Not party time, not excellent.