Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Annie Young-Scrivner, Starbucks

At Core of Coffee Giant's Recent Turnaround, Brand Relaunch, New Logo and Plans to Expand World Presence Is Global Marketing Chief

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It wasn't that long ago -- January 2008, to be exact -- that Starbucks chief Howard Schultz announced sweeping plans for the ailing company's turnaround based on customer experience and innovation. Since then Starbucks has launched new products, including oatmeal -- a surprise hit -- and its instant coffee, Via.

Annie Young-Scrivner
Annie Young-Scrivner

Amid that , it has continued to pick up impressive momentum. The coffee giant in January 2010 posted its first quarterly same-store sales growth, 4%, in two years and last year it whisked past Wendy's and Burger King to become the country's No. 3 chain by sales.

So far this year, Starbucks has introduced petite desserts, gotten into the single-serve market with K-Cups, and unveiled a massive brand relaunch as part of its 40th anniversary, which included an updated logo that dropped the green ring with the text "Starbucks Coffee" and more prominently displayed its famed siren.

Playing an integral role is global CMO Annie Young-Scrivner, who's at the helm of the Starbucks marketing function. She joined Starbucks in September 2009, just as Via was launching nationally, after serving as CMO at PepsiCo's Quaker. Ms. Young-Scrivner oversaw the brand relaunch and development of the new logo, which was developed in-house, with some additional brand strategy and design support from agency Lippincott.

Describing the core of Starbucks' brand as "moments of connection" -- the moments customers order coffee and food or otherwise interact in the store -- Ms. Young-Scrivner, 42, said that the rebranding was not just "for refresh sake, but it was about our blueprint for growth -- how we're going to take that blueprint across 55 countries and do what we do best, which is connection." The move has opened the doors for Starbucks to move beyond coffee, both in the grocery aisle and in-store.

Starbucks is somewhat of a curiosity in marketing because it is outspent multiple times over by other chains. And while it has advertised on TV more in recent years, Ms. Young-Scrivner said the company is leveraging digital and social-media strategies to "ensure we build those moments of connection beyond the four walls of our stores."

The company continues its ambitious growth plans, recently announcing plans to triple its retail presence in China by 2015. With 17,000 worldwide locations and growing, Starbucks could face a challenge in catering to various cultures all while keeping that connection with customers.

But Ms. Young-Scrivner's background -- she was born in Taiwan and has worked in 26 countries -- enables her to have a good pulse on what works. "She's helping build the brand, really making it a global brand," said David Lubars, North American chairman-chief creative officer at Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, Starbucks' agency. "She has incredible stretch. That's not an easy thing to do -- distance, cultures, tastes. She's taking it around the world in a way so that each country is getting the best of what Starbucks is ."

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