Starbucks Goes With Spark for Media After Sending Out Agency RFI

Spent About $95 Million on U.S. Measured Media in 2013

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Starbucks is set to hire Publicis Groupe's Spark as its new media agency after only the first stage of a review, according to people familiar with the matter.

Omnicom's PHD has supported the Starbucks media business for about six years.

PHD referred calls to the client and Spark declined to comment. Starbucks didn't respond to a request for comment.

In 2013, Starbucks spent about $95 million on U.S. measured media, according to WPP's Kantar Media, up from $85.5 million in 2012. In 2011, the company spent about $109 million on U.S. measured media.

The move comes less than a year after Anne Enright joined Starbucks as director of media and measurement from Spark sibling agency Starcom. Chris Boothe, CEO of Spark, is also a Starcom vet. He spent over two decades at the shop before joining Spark in 2012 as part of an agency revamp.

Two years ago, Starcom MediaVest Group CEO Laura Desmond said the goal was to build Spark into a top-five media network in three years. Top five or not, Spark is on a healthy growth track.

The shop, which is smallest of the three media agencies within the Publicis Groupe media agency network, had revenue of $13 million in 2010, and it's already at $36 million, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

And Starbucks adds to a portfolio that was already growing quickly. It includes pharma giant (and big media spender) Abbvie as well as REI, Kao, Taco Bell and Orbitz. The new client also comes close to making up for the loss of Morgan Stanley and Hillshire to IPG shop BPN.

For Starbucks, it's one more recent marketing shift. Ms. Enright's appointment came only months after Sharon Rothstein joined Starbucks as CMO. Ms. Rothstein, who was previously senior VP-marketing at Sephora, quickly updated the coffee giant's agency roster, adding MDC Partners' 72andSunny to a list that included lead creative agency BBDO.

The company also recently reached out in its search for a shopper-marketing-oriented agency -- one with a heavy digital bent -- for its packaged products such as bagged coffee, Via instant coffee, K-Cups, Starbucks Refreshers and its bottled Frappuccino.

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