‘San Francisco Chronicle’ Strikes Starbucks Deal

By: Lucia Moses

Since Feb. 19, Starbucks lovers in the Bay Area have been able to pick up the San Francisco Chronicle along with their Komodo Dragon Blend coffee. It’s the result of a marketing agreement with the Seattle-based java giant that puts the Chronicle on sale in about 170 Starbucks stores.

But talks with other papers aren’t going as fast as Starbucks would like. Of the 30 or so papers it has approached, the company had hoped to sign agreements with 10 by this time — so far, San Francisco is the only rollout. As for other prospective partners, not all have agreed to give Starbucks promotional space.

The Chronicle hopes that its expanded availability via Starbucks’ retail outlets will lift its single-copy sales, an increasingly important part of all newspapers’ circulation.

“I’m very happy,” said Paul Hutcheson, director of single-purchase sales and business development for the Chronicle. “I think they [Starbucks] are going to be a very good partner for us.”

Other dailies weren’t so happy when Starbucks approached them last year, proposing that papers give it ad space for the privilege of being its exclusive local paper in their regions, a version of its agreement with The New York Times. Newspapers also protested Starbucks’ short-lived idea that its newspaper partners pull out of competing retail outlets.

Hutcheson wouldn’t say if Starbucks was getting ad credits as part of the Chronicle‘s deal, citing a nondisclosure agreement with Starbucks. In his view, though, the industry can no longer expect retailers to let newspapers take up their floor space without giving anything in return. Said Hutcheson, “You have to recognize where we are in today’s world.”

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