Where, oh, where Has Juan Gone?

Written by Lori Thiessen

I was watching MadMen, the new hip show to watch, on Saturday and part of the episode included the Draper and the ad dudes making a pitch to a coffee company wanting to make younger consumers into coffee drinkers like their parents. It was all music, no images and just had this tropical beat with the company’s name softly sung in the lyrics. The CEO of the coffee company asked if it was a jingle. Yes, sir. It is. It’s a new kind of soft persuasion because the younger generation didn’t want to be told by Madison Avenue what we were supposed to like. (Even though the show is set in the ‘60’s, that statement sounds familiar, doesn’t it, kids?)

It’s fun watching this show partly because of an imagined sense of history and nostalgia it evokes, but it also provides a glimpse, completely factual or not, into the development of advertising during its heyday.

Coffee ads I remember from yesteryear started springing up while I watched Don Draper et al work their magic—Nabob coffee (only the finest beans), Maxwell House (Wake up with Maxwell House in your cup), Folgers (good to the last drop) and characters associated with coffee like Juan Valdez for the Columbian Coffee Bean Growers and Robert Young (“Dr. Marcus Welby”) for Sanka, decaffeinated coffee.

With the remote control handy, I don’t generally sit through commercials. But what commercials I have seen, I have noticed that there aren’t as many coffee commercials around as there used to be. Are there?

If it is true that there are fewer coffee commercials around, I wonder why. Are coffee bean sales going that well?

I do notice commercials for coffee-style flavourings. You know, those instance powder things that are supposed to be like cappuccino or French vanilla coffee, but are more like coffee-flavoured Tang. Yeah, yuck.

Coffee-Mate seems to be making a stab at getting back in the coffee cupboard too. There is a new commercial with a young, hip couple having a lazy morning together. The hubby pours milk into what seems like his coffee mug, but hey presto, it’s his cereal bowl instead. He brings out the Coffee-Mate for his coffee which his wife then steals from him. Ah, can’t beat petroleum based products for that special pick me up in the morning.

I think I’ll do a little research on this because it’s bugging me now that coffee commercials are on the decline and get back to you with the results.

Q: What are your thoughts on coffee commercials (historical or contemporary)?

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!


2 responses to “Where, oh, where Has Juan Gone?

  1. Maybe people pick a brand by a certain age and don’t move from there. So, once you reach a certain age, they stop trying to win you over or confirm your choice. Are they advertising to 20-year-old college students? Where do you get a brand allegiance for coffee?

    As for me, I get most of my beans directly from my local coffee shop. Perhaps it’s the gourmet-ification of North American coffee that has led to bean marketing through other channels.

  2. Hey Andrea!

    Thanks for the very thoughtful comment. I think you’re right — most people do get hooked on a brand and generally stick with it. I really do believe that the trend towards specialization in the coffee world specifically and the food world in general is having an impact. People are looking for certain qualities in their coffee: fair trade, organic, particular type of bean, and a dash of exclusivity (tribal or sub-tribal for the marketing types) makes it difficult to do a broad spectrum ad campaign.

    Thanks again, Andrea. You gave us all a lot to think about.

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