Dubbed Power Frappuccino, the drink is being offered in Starbucks outlets in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, Calif.
"It's a great low-fat drink, but it's really for a refreshment. [But] we're coming to the conclusion that a large number of our consumers are using it as a meal replacement," said Scott Bedbury, senior VP-marketing, adding the test has been a success so far.
Power Frappuccino is only a small part of ambitious marketing and growth plans that range from rolling Starbucks' coffee brand into supermarkets nationwide to adding some 700 more outlets to its 1,300 cafes by the year 2000.
To carry those plans forward, last week Starbucks named BBDO West, Los Angeles, as the new agency for its estimated $15 million account. The move ends a two-year relationship with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. Both agencies are owned by Omnicom Group.
BBDO West was a "close second" when Goodby won the account, Mr. Bedbury said, and was selected this time without a review.
DESIGN WORK GOES IN-HOUSE
Design services for the company, which were a key part of Goodby's work, are being moved in-house. With the loss of Starbucks and design work for two other clients, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Pizza Hut, Goodby has pared its award-winning design group and is integrating the remaining team into the general agency, a Goodby official said.
Starbucks also plans to announce search results within 60 days for regional marketing agencies to serve its six North America marketing zones, which include five in the U.S. and one in Canada.
"They will do things we can't do here from Seattle," Mr. Bedbury said, adding that regional marketing directors will drive the hiring decisions and more than one agency may be named in each zone.
Goodby struggled with the Starbucks account as the client moved back and forth between seeking a branding message and the need to secure day-to-day retail sales on products such as espresso machines, Goodby executives said.
AD STRATEGY UNCLEAR
Mr. Bedbury acknowledged his rapidly growing company's ad strategy is unclear.
"We're not at all certain about where we're going to go in the future," he said. "That's what we're asking BBDO to do."
Mr. Bedbury said the fate of the tagline, "Starbucks, purveyors of coffee, tea and sanity," used in print last year and local TV and radio this year, is uncertain.
He added that it may be a year or more before Starbucks significantly steps up media activity to match its march into supermarkets with bean coffee and bottled Frappuccino.
Separately, to pave the way for unit expansion, Starbucks named John Richards, former exec VP of Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts, to the new post of president,