CAMPAIGNS: Shaw’s perfect spin for Seattle - Financial PR

In 1995, Seattle natives Ally and Scott Svenson founded the Seattle Coffee Company in London, after failing to discover an equivalent of their beloved Seattle coffee bars. Since then, 56 branches have opened across the UK.

In 1995, Seattle natives Ally and Scott Svenson founded the Seattle

Coffee Company in London, after failing to discover an equivalent of

their beloved Seattle coffee bars. Since then, 56 branches have opened

across the UK.



When the sale of SCC to US-based coffee-giant Starbucks was in

discussion, SCC’s public relations agency, Gabrielle Shaw Associates

worked on both the media relations for the announcement and the internal

communications programme.



Objectives



To announce the sale of SCC to Starbucks in the business and consumer

press, positioning it as a strategic ’win-win’ situation for both

companies.



To communicate news of the deal to employees, suppliers and

customers.



Tactics



To raise press awareness of SCC before the announcement, Gabrielle Shaw

Associates organised a consumer product push in March, and released a

business growth report in April.



The sale of Seattle Coffee Company to Starbucks in exchange for 1.8

million shares was announced on April 29. As Starbucks is listed on the

New York Stock Exchange and was releasing its financial results on the

same day, the announcement could not be made in Britain before 2pm,

therefore timing was crucial.



Press releases were sent simultaneously to both consumer and business

journalists in the UK, announcing the sale and a photocall that

afternoon, for which - despite the short notice - a number of camera

crews and photojournalists turned up.



It was important to SCC that staff were well informed about the sale,

and any doubts they had about job losses or a change in corporate

culture were allayed, so as much emphasis was made on announcing the

deal internally as externally. Branch managers from all over the country

were invited to a champagne reception on the afternoon of the

announcement.



At the reception the president of Starbucks, Howard Behar gave a speech

explaining the benefits of the sale and the advantages for both

companies.



A ’Celebration Pack’, designed by Gabrielle Shaw Associates, was

distributed.



This included a welcome letter to all partners (employees), a copy of

Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz’ biography and posters announcing the

change for customers.



Results



The announcement was a great success. Not only was the deal covered in

the business pages of most of the nationals, but many publications

followed up the story with features on the booming UK boutique-coffee

industry, or profiles of the Svensons. Ally Svenson has been nominated

by the Sunday Times as one of the top 100 business people to watch over

the decade.



While some of the US coverage was along the lines of SCC ’throwing in

the towel’ in the face of competition, UK coverage put a positive angle

on the deal, mentioning that the Svensons had modelled SCC on Starbucks

and were thrilled to now be part of the company.



Verdict



All the objectives of the campaign were met, and fears that SCC may be

criticised for undervaluing itself, or for selling out were

unfounded.



The internal communications programme was also well received by SCC’s

employees with the company ensuring that any questions they had were

answered.



While news of a pounds 50 million acquisition is always likely to make

the business pages, this story has led to articles appearing in a

diverse range of media, from Vogue to the Big Breakfast.



The fact that Gabrielle Shaw Associates is an agency known for its

consumer work and not as a financial agency probably helped achieve the

wide coverage that this story generated.



Client: Seattle Coffee Company (SCC)

PR Team: Gabrielle Shaw Associates

Campaign: Sale of SCC to Starbucks Coffee Company

Timescale: April-ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.