The hosts of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC seem to drink Starbucks every day. Joe Scarborough, the show’s namesake and co-host, sips Frappuccinos on camera so often that some viewers have wondered whether it is a form of product placement, paid for by the coffee company. Starting Monday, it will be.
Starbucks is becoming a naming sponsor of “Morning Joe,” in what is the closest integration between an advertiser and a national news program in recent memory. Harkening back to the “Camel News Caravan,” an NBC news roundup sponsored by a cigarette manufacturer in the 1950s, graphics and voice-overs will tell viewers that “Morning Joe” is “brewed by Starbucks.”
Referring to the penchant for Starbucks by Mr. Scarborough and the co-host Mika Brzezinski, the president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, joked, “We’ve been doing this for free for a couple of years.”
But coffee beans have not been sprinkled across the show’s logo until now. Along with several Starbucks graphics and mentions during each hour of the 6 to 9 a.m. program, Mr. Griffin indicated other possible pairings in the future. The anchors and the coffee company may team up on charitable initiatives. And the program may be broadcast from Starbucks locations when it travels, as it did last year for the political conventions and this year for the inauguration. The deal also includes promotions at MSNBC.com.
Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, said in an interview that the deal indicated that “the rules of engagement in marketing and advertising have changed quite significantly.” He called it an opportunity to “align ourselves with, in my view, one of the smartest morning shows that air on TV.”
Mr. Schultz cited connections between the Starbucks brand and the “Morning Joe” viewers, an audience that he called “sophisticated and upscale.”
The “Morning Joe” naming is an extension of the marketing campaign that Starbucks started this year. With fewer customers splurging for $3.50 beverages, the coffee company has introduced new products and tried to enhance its image.
One executive with knowledge of the deal said Starbucks would be paying more than $10 million to MSNBC. The executive spoke on the condition of anonymity because the companies would not comment on the deal’s terms.
Mr. Griffin said “Morning Joe” would continue to cover Starbucks as a news item if warranted. “They understand that we have standards,” he said.
Keep Reading: nytimes