Starbucks brews promo for 'Tale'

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Starbucks Entertainment announced its second film initiative, a marketing campaign for the upcoming documentary "Arctic Tale" from Paramount Classics and National Geographic Films.

The coffee retailer will receive payments linked to the movie's performance as it seeks to promote the film and educate consumers about global warming.

Despite disappointing boxoffice numbers for Starbucks' first film marketing initiative in spring 2006 — Lionsgate's "Akeelah and the Bee" — Paramount Classics and National Geographic Films sought Starbucks out as a partner. All the parties declined to discuss the specific terms of the deal, but Starbucks will benefit financially if the film does well. In the case of "Akeelah," Starbucks cut a deal to receive a percentage of the profits.

"We're not paying for our involvement with the film; we're not investing in the film," Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard said. "This is a collaboration between Starbucks and the studios, where all parties are going to benefit from the financial success of the film."

Paramount Vantage president John Lesher said the specialty film division expected Starbucks to have more success with "Arctic Tale" because the movie aligns itself "more directly" with the Starbucks brand than "Akeelah" did.

"The reason we were interested in having their marketing expertise on the movie and what they can provide in their stores is that we think people who buy a cappuccino and have families will care about the environment and will be very interested in this movie," he said. "Where 'Akeelah and the Bee' was more of an inner-city movie, this is not. We don't need to do massive blockbuster business for this movie to be very successful."

To promote the film, which revolves around a walrus pup and a polar bear who are losing their icebound world as it melts, Starbucks will feature a comprehensive in-store marketing campaign — including signage and cup sleeves with facts about climate change — in its 6,800 company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada. The campaign with run from July 31-Aug. 27, with the movie beginning its limited theatrical engagement July 25 and a wider release slated for Aug. 17.

Lombard said that Starbucks is trying to incorporate lessons learned from "Akeelah" into the campaign for "Arctic Tale." "We felt like we could have done a better job of providing our customers with clarity around the notion that this is a film we're recommending that they should go see," he said.

While "Starbucks" had a presenting credit for "Akeelah," it has an end credit for "Arctic Tale."
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