March 9th, 2011

Is Starbucks' 'Morning Joe' Brew Too Strong?

Advertising Age

Did MSNBC put “Morning Joe” anchor Mika Brzezinski in a tough spot this morning when it set up a segment about one of her show’s most prominent sponsors?

That’s one way to read a small part of today’s “Morning Joe” featuring an interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who answered questions about the coffee chain’s 40th anniversary.

Regular viewers of “Morning Joe” will likely recall that the popular morning-news show is “brewed by Starbucks,” as various bumpers and video billboards remind them every morning while the program cuts to commercial breaks. Yet the show didn’t mention Starbucks’ largess during the Schultz segment, which ran more than seven minutes.

This sort of unfortunate juxtaposition between sponsor and news story was probably bound to happen. In 2009, Starbucks announced it would enjoy prominent on-screen placement on MSNBC during “Joe” after the coffee chain agreed to become a “name sponsor” of the program. Starbucks told various press outlets that the pact was aimed at helping it reach affluent, sophisticated consumers—the kind who might just stop by a Starbucks, don’tcha know? A report in The New York Times suggested the deal was worth somewhere around $10 million to MSNBC.

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