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Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

Lessons From a Coffee Advertising Strategy: Make Coffee An Event

How to Market Coffee. Make it an Event
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How To Market Coffee with a Coffee Advertising Strategy That Makes Drinking Coffee An Event


Before we met people for coffee or had coffee breaks there were a few coffee roasters but no coffee shops.  So the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Council on Wall Street, New York decided to run an advertising campaign.

The year was 1921 and N.W.Ayers and Son of Philadelphia were commissioned to write the copy and get adverts running in newspapers throughout the country.

But they went further than just advertising coffee. They created a movement that has gone around the world.

Coffee Time.


Forget How To Market Coffee; Think Radical Change

There’s an elegant logic to the way this advert works. They could have advertised coffee and some people would have bought and drunk a bit more. But what the advertisers did was to change the way people live so that coffee became part of the way they lived. Coffee became part of their lives. It was like embedding coffee in to the DNA of a nation.

They used words like chummy, cheery, stimulus, clear thinking, reviving, They made getting a coffee easy by suggesting they could find coffee nearby, ..”not very far from where you are, there is a coffee house, soda fountain, restaurant or hotel which makes a feature of Afternoon Coffee.

What they didn’t do was talk about all the different types of coffee, Americano, cappuccino, latte, expresso etc. Nor did they use words like Brazilian, Colombian, Kenyan, Arabica, Robusta, blends, blending,  caffeine, decaf etc. These were words of the future. In the 1920s coffee was coffee.  It wasn’t as complex as today. And the word barista was still used in Italy to describe a bartender. No one else used it and it wasn’t used in the context of coffee. The world was a less complicated place!


coffee marketing advertsCoffee With Built-in Excuses

Words like chummy, cheery, stimulus, clear thinking and reviving have built-in excuses at their core. Let’s face it everyone wants to be cheery and chummy (friendly). And if any boss should question a coffee break the ad tells the drinker it is a stimulus that will have them clear thinking and revived. Surely that’s something every employer wants of their workforce!


Advertising with Supplier Backup 

Running an advert on its own is not likely to work. You need reinforcement and repetition to really drive the habit forming idea forward. . And in this case the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Council had enlisted hotels, coffee houses and others coffee sellers to make coffee a feature during the campaign.


A Coffee Advertising Strategy That Wasn’t Brave 

The advertisers knew their limits. They didn’t suggest a morning coffee break. They weren’t that brave.

But the idea of an afternoon coffee started to take off in a limited way. Then during World War Two the idea really took off as if it was patriotic duty. Clear thinking was important in wartime and the population took to it with renewed vigour.

A new way of life was apparent and that led to the coffee chains like Costa, Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Cafe2U, Coffee #1, Muffin Break, Puccino’s,  Soho Coffee, Caffè Ritazza, Harris + Hoole,  Coffee Republic, AMT Coffee,  Love Coffee,  Esquires, and Cafè Thorntons.


The Real Secret of This Coffee Advertising Strategy

What really made this advertising strategy work is simple. They took a great idea and wrote brilliant copy.


What are the Three Different Types of Advertising?


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