Mug Shot — «Venetian Spec Prototype circa late 2005»

From Las Vegas, USA


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Mug Details #8707

Starbucks City Mug Venetian Spec Prototype circa late 2005

The first time I saw this mug listed on auction I was a complete skeptic. Fast forward 4 years and I now work at the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts in their Sales and Marketing Department which put me in a great spot to do some digging about the prototype mug I’d seen list on auction. In talking with the owner of the mug I learned that there were 2 mugs that were designed to support a pitch to the Sands Corp: The Venetian mug cataloged here and a mug designed around the architectural elements of Palladio who inspired the interior of the Palazzo Hotel and Casino (which was in the process of being built when these mugs were produced). The Palladio Effect mug did sell at auction but did not command the price that one would expect a Starbucks prototype mug to achieve. The owner shared about the Venetian Mug that its listing had gone up in price as high as $3000 + USD and then all bidders pulled out dropping it back to its original entry bid. After multiple attempts, it did not sell. This spurred my curiosity to find out more.
I was able to get to know a fellow team member at the Venetian, now a Vice President of Social Marketing, who was in Resorts Marketing at the time that the pitch took place between Starbucks and Sands Global in 2005. I asked him if Starbucks had ever been a consideration for the resort and shared with him about the mugs I had seen a while back. He confirmed that what is now Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Cafe Press were all originally to be Starbucks. In addition, he was in marketing in 2005 and sat in the meeting in which the pitch was made! He remembered the mug designed for The Palladio Effect specifically as he was impressed what they'd done based on a recent filing for exclusive use of the rights to the architectural elements that would be incorporated into what we now know as the Palazzo. They gave up rights to The Palladio Effect quickly as it was decided they should focus solely on marketing the Palazzo entity. The mugs and a tumbler prototype for both the Venetian and Palazzo we're used in the presentation deck to demonstrate avenues to revenue generation through the partnership (no surprise!). My colleague could describe this prototype vividly, stating he knew that they had acquired the unique Venetian serif font and a proprietary image taken from a gondola in the canal of the Grand Canal shops. Ultimately Sands Global signed for Starbucks in the Macau property but invented Cafe Press as the signature coffee bar for the US properties.
When I learned this information from my co-worker I couldn’t wait to troll Google to find the old listing and contacted the seller. The Palladio Effect prototype had sold but he still had the Venetian prototype. The mug was produced by Americanware, however the design for the mug was produced by the only design firm at the time that had exclusive rights to produce Venetian related images and use the trademark entities for the resorts and casino, Affinity Design House, both of California. The owner had purchased only the mugs (no tumbler prototypes) along with several other rare Starbucks mugs from an estate sale in CA.
An image of The Palladio Effect prototype is included in this collage in the chance a fellow collector was the one who purchased it.

  Las Vegas, Venetian, Rejected Prototype, 2005, USA

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