Monday, December 11, 2006

Java Jive

I just ordered some PBS Blend coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and you can too by visiting their web site.

This is the first product endorsement, licensing arrangement PBS has ever entered into, and I suspect they are going to take quite a bit of flak for this foray into what many perceive as commercialization. Some critics believe this deal threatens to undermine the rationale for taxpayer support for PBS. But since federal support constitutes less than 13% of PBS’s annual budget, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long encouraged PBS to find creative ways to raise funds. So our new PBS President is stepping out and putting our loved and trusted brand on some organic, fair trade certified coffee.

I agree, it’s a slippery slope for a non-profit, public/private institution like PBS to get into the endorsement game. Today it’s coffee, tomorrow it’s wine, the next day it’s luxury automobiles. There is money to be made in licensing agreements, so how do you balance between staying true to the non-commercial nature of the brand, and selling out? I guess we’ll all find out. Just look at what the Children’s Workshop has done commercializing my beloved Sesame Street. As I have mentioned before, is there anything you can buy that DOESN’T have Elmo or one of his SS posse gracing the product?

But then I put on my fundraiser’s cap and I think, “Absolutely”. PBS must start thinking differently and trying new, creative ways to raise money or we’re doomed. To compete on the digital, new media playing field we have got to have money and raising money in the traditional ways just isn’t cutting it anymore. No one wants any more pledge drives!

While the terms of the deal with Green Mountain Coffee have not been disclosed, I trust that the PBS brass have cut a good deal so I’ll do my part by ordering a bag of beans every now and then.

Now, I did have to laugh and seriously roll my eyes at the elaborate description of the PBS Blend coffee:

“It’d be easy enough to enjoy this coffee simply because of its story – a great partnership, a compelling origin – but in the cup this coffee has its own story to tell, and it’s eloquent in the telling. It begins with aromas of cedar, bountiful Mexican chocolate and subtle tropical florals. It continues with flavors of walnut, ripe plum and raisin, and more cocoa. Its finish is warm, resonant and sweet, with notes of caramel and a slightly piquant, nutty twist.”


I admit I have the most unsophisticated pallet in the world, but I think one has to work HARD to detect wood, flowers, fruit, chocolate, caramel and a nutty twist in their cup of coffee!

I do love PBS and I am willing to bet that a lot of hard work and soul searching went into this business deal, so let's belly up to the coffee bar and help our favorite network out. Let’s see where this thing goes.


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