Peet's launches in hostile territory with media blitz

SEATTLE: The opening of Peet's Coffee & Tea's first store in the coffee capital of America - and the home turf of industry giant Starbucks - was met with a mix of frothy excitement and dark-roasted fear.

SEATTLE: The opening of Peet's Coffee & Tea's first store in the coffee capital of America - and the home turf of industry giant Starbucks - was met with a mix of frothy excitement and dark-roasted fear.

"We have people from Seattle who say they can't live without their Peet's," said Julie Kim, director of Weber Shandwick's San Francisco office, which handles all of Peet's PR. "But there were also those who were afraid that Peet's was selling out, and trying to be more like Starbucks by coming to Seattle. But not all coffee companies are the same."

Peet's, a Bay Area institution, has stores throughout California, as well as some in Boston and Chicago.

A massive media campaign turned Peet's Seattle arrival into one of the company's most notable store openings. Weber Shandwick reached out to local business media, explaining the difference of Peet's as a purveyor of fresh, artisan roasted beans, as well as its different business model.

"Not all coffee companies are the same," said Kim. "A lot of people visit the Bay Area and visit Peet's, who now can't live without it. It's kind of a nationwide cult following."

The company chose the Fremont area of Seattle, similar to Berkeley, for the store opening, using print and broadcast media coverage to attract throngs of Peet's devotees. The opening was designed as a party for the neighborhood, complete with Peet's coffee roasters and buyers on hand to meet and greet customers.

"We wanted people to come celebrate with us," said Kim. "We wanted to let them know how happy we were to be part of the community, and we hope they felt the same about us."

The media coverage by lifestyle, community, and business media ran the gamut, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, the Puget Sound Business Journal, as well as several Bay Area publications.

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