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Starbucks today begins an estimated $8 million TV and radio campaign that marks the sizzling coffee retailer's biggest ad effort yet.Three TV and three radio spots will run for eight weeks in 11 major North American markets. The ad s, from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, are tagged "Starbucks, purveyors of coffee, tea and sanity," a line that first appeared in Starbucks print efforts last year.Until now, Starbucks' advertising has been limite d to holiday newspaper ads, occasional radio and outdoor efforts supporting local openings and brief flings with TV. According to Competitive Media Reporting, last year the marketer spent $6.2 million, mainly in newspapers and radi o, to support its stores and various beverages.

EARLIER RELUCTANCEAfter hiring Goodby in July 1995, Starbucks balked at producing a major branding effort, although executives at the marketer and agency expect that to change as the c hain expands."This is the beginning of what is hopefully a series of brand and product campaigns in the future," said Steve Simpson, partner and creative director at Goodby.

IMAGE ADS NOW USEFUL"A lot of it has to do with us now having a broader reach of stores, so [an image campaign] has become more effective to look at," said a Starbucks spokeswoman. Starbucks currently has 1,200 stores in about 25 states and has told analysts it will have 2,000 stores by 2000.The whimsical new work features line-drawings of animated characters who suffer from the summer's heat but find refuge in an iced Frappuccino drink.

HOW TO COOL OFFIn one spot, a man walking along a sidewalk uses the straw o f his drink as a divining rod to find a swimming pool.In another spot, the character uses the drink to lower his body temperature. As he jumps into a lake and turns into a fish, a bear scoops him from the water while an announcer n otes the drink is a way to cool off "without the inconvenience of being a trout."The third spot shows a Mary Poppins-style character on a bench next to what appears to be a monster. When the monster is given a Frappuccino, the beast transforms into a timid businessman.For the tag of each spot, the traditional animation is replaced by stop-motion animation detailing the making of a Frappuccino.The radio campaign center s on "Mr. Z," a man looking for relief from the summer heat. "The spots do double duty," promoting the drink and branding Starbucks, said Mr. Simpson.

BACKING FRAPPUCCINOThe chain, which last summer promoted its Frappuccino and saw sales jump by 11% in what is normally a slow period, wants to continue backing the cold drink this year to spur same-store sales.Mr. Simpson said Starbucks recognizes more of a need to build its image since it is being vilified in some communities for driving out mom-and-pop coffee shops."It is time for them to define themselves," said Mr. Simpson. "It's almost like a political campaign. They need to get their message out before others get their messa ge out."Scott Bedbury, Starbucks' senior VP-marketing, believes advertising can help address the issue of "Starbucks backlash."

CHANCE TO DEFINE OURSELVES'"What we'll be able to get through advertising is the chance to define o urselves more accurately than the way the brand is sometimes presented," said Mr. Bedbury in a statement.However, he admitted advertising can suggest an image of ubiquity that Starbucks doesn't deserve, in terms of number of store s-and might not want, even if it did.The effort is not Starbucks' first in TV. In the early 1990s, it experimented with a short-lived holiday effort from EvansGroup, Seattle. Earlier this year, Goodby created a 10-second spot that ran in eight markets offering refuge to taxpayers before the filing deadline..

Contributing: Jeff Jensen.

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