Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Feature: Brand Marketing

Staid brand Maxwell House Coffee reinvigorating itself with premium quality coffee beans and a hip, creative, new-age multi-media marketing and field promotional campaign

Kraft Foods has decided to join the flight among coffee brands to quality, ditching its cheap multi-blend coffee bean formula for its Maxwell House coffee brand for 100% Arabica beans, and creating a hip, new-age web and event marketing and promotional campaign to reposition the brand to consumers.

The advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather New York has created the "Brew Some Good" campaign for the coffee brand. The multi-media advertising and event-based marketing campaign will feature a smart and creative field promotion which begins next Wednesday, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Starting next Wednesday, and continuing for two weeks, Kraft will pay the highway and bridge tolls for some lucky drivers throughout the U.S., passing out samples of the reformulated, 100% Aribica bean Maxwell House coffee at the same time.

On Wednesday, a busy Thanksgiving travel day, at least 100,000 drivers in eight U.S. markets will get to pass through toll booths without having to reach into their purses or wallets to pay their toll. Instead, their tolls will be on the house--on Maxwell House that is. The toll stations in these eight markets will have signs greeting the drivers saying, "Your toll is on the house (Maxwell House). Each driver also will be given another freebie along with getting their toll paid--a package of new Maxwell House coffee to take home and brew for Thanksgiving.

Along with doing good by paying the tolls of the drivers, Kraft also is doing some good by making a donation to America's Second Harvest Food Banks. The donation is based on the 100,000 free tolls the company is paying. Maxwell House brand will give the food bank system one dollar for every toll it pays on Wednesday, for a total donation of $100,000. Second Harvest is the largest hunger-relief charity in the U.S. It operates over 200 food banks in the country, and provides food to many more local food pantries.

Kraft's creative field promotions and web-based campaign follow on the heels of its recently released TV and print advertising campaign. The broadcast and print ads feature images of adults and children working, playing and cooperating with each other in early morning settings. The voice over (broadcast ads) and text (print ads) says, "Let's celebrate the optimists--the ones who always see the cup half full." The ad's tagline says, "The naysayers, the second-guessers--let them sleep in. It's a new morning. Let's brew some good."

The message of the broadcast and print ads is clear: It's a new morning in America, and the new Maxwell House is for all you optimistic, hard working and hard playing Americans who make this country great.

It isn't just drivers who will get a freebie on Thanksgiving eve. From 7-9 a.m Wednesday morning Kraft field representatives will hand out free metro cards, coffee samples and literature about the "new" Maxwell House coffee to riders of the New York City subway system. Kraft reps will be at five subway stations in New York City's five borough's surprising riders and, as the campaign theme says, "Brewing Some Good."

Kraft will follow up this pre-Thanksgiving day promotional activity beginning next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, by handing out over 1 million free cups of coffee to mall shoppers in 14 U.S. Cities. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season, and U.S. malls are packed with early-bird shoppers looking for deals. The free cups of coffee promotion will continue throughout that weekend.

Kraft is tying these field promotional events, and others, in with a new website titled, which Maxwell House will launch on November 30. The interactive site will encourage users to post videos, upload photos, and share uplifting stories from their lives and from those around them. The site also has a webcam feature, where users can smile into it and in return get coupons good for discounts on Maxwell House coffee. The positioning of the site is that Maxwell House is the coffee for hard working, positive and optimistic people, just like the broadcast and print ads--and the strategy of the field promotions. It's a fun, light-hearted site with a message.

We see the "Brew Something Good" campaign as a very well integrated brand and product marketing program. And the fact that Kraft has improved the quality of the Maxwell House brand (we tasted it. It's much improved) demonstrates an understanding that consumers want a quality product to go along with a new marketing campaign.

Traditional coffee brands like Maxwell House, Folgers and others have been losing sales to higher-quality coffee companies like Starbucks, Eight O' Clock Coffee, Peet's, Newman's Own, Dunkin' Doughnuts and others. Perhaps improvements like Maxwell House moving to 100% Araciba beans and its launching of a clever integrated marketing campaign to tout the message will bring back some of that lost market share for Kraft.

The quality upgrade and hip, creative campaign makes it clear to us that Kraft realizes it has to go after the natural-specialty foods crowd. These are consumers of all ages (primarily younger rather than older though) who want quality, and who get there information (including advertising) on the web more often than on TV.

The field promotional element should create good will and positive emotions for the brand. Think about it. What's better than having your highway toll paid after sitting in crowded, pre-Thanksgiving holiday traffic for hours. Further, a free hot cup of coffee is a nice treat for shoppers, up before dawn, hitting the mall for a full day of contact shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Food, beverage and consumer packaged goods companies of all sizes can learn much we believe from the integrated and creative nature of the Maxwell House marketing campaign. It draws attention, while not being blatant. It offers a strong emotional message in its TV and print ads, but a lighter message on its website. And the field promotions get out there and touch consumers where they live, doing something good for them and not asking for anything in return--except for taking the free sample of Maxwell House coffee. In the end though, consumers have to like the coffee.

No comments: