The Starbucks Card Newsletter is a great example of using full width background imagery in an email campaign – a useful way to add extra brand elements and style, drawing the email out from the regular email client page background. The main content area of the email is still within a 700px limit, so the extra background space will collapse down for those using smaller browsers.
In terms of the artwork, the coffee-bean-sack texture is on brand and follows the kind of textured look that is very ‘in’ at the moment on the web. Elsewhere there’s some standard newsletter fayre, perhaps it’d be good to bring the account management stuff up so it’s more prominent.
Implementing background images in email
Unlike most background images, those applied to the <body> tag do work in Outlook 2007. A few other email clients don’t though, so it’s best to apply the background to both the <body> and a 100% width table, just to be sure.