< Back to front page Text size +

Magic Johnson: "We don't eat scones"

Posted by Christopher Shea  April 20, 2010 02:15 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

What does the business world think when you've got five NBA championships on your resume? "Everybody wanted the autograph," Magic Johnson recently told students and faculty members at Wharton, Penn's business school, "but nobody wanted to invest with me." Johnson had already opened several movie theaters in urban, predominantly black neighborhoods but was having trouble persuading other businessmen that this was a viable business model. (Johnson also had progressive, urban-development goals.)

A turning point came in 1995, Johnson said, when he dragged Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, to a raucous Friday night showing of "Waiting to Exhale," the movie based on the Terry McMillan novel, starring Whitney Houston, at one of his theaters. "Howard grabs me about 20 minutes in and says, 'Earvin, I never had a movie-going experience quite like this.' ... That got me the deal."

Today Magic Johnson Enterprises operates Starbucks franchises in neighborhoods that the upscale coffee monolith had ignored. In growing that business, Johnson battled some stereotypes--and, it would seem, tried to monetize others, reports the Penn publication Knowledge@Wharton: "People said there's no way Latinos and African-Americans will pay $3 for a cup of coffee," Johnson told his Philadelphia audience. "Yes, we will pay $3, but we don't eat scones. I had to take scones out of my Starbucks and put in pound cake, Sock It to Me cake and sweet potato pie -- things that resonate with the urban consumer."
 Sock_It_To_Me_Cake.jpgBetter than scones?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

archives

Browse this blog

by category