Second Cup starts up rockin’ promo with Stones

As all working stiffs know, a cup of coffee (or two, or three) in the morning is a shot of much-needed fuel. But for java slingers like Second Cup and arch rivals Timothy's and Starbucks, driving morning business to their fine caffeine emporiums is an ongoing battle.
Kicking the morning coffee wars up another notch, Toronto-based Second Cup has enlisted some rather unexpected foot soldiers: Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron of the tireless, rock 'n' roll super-band, The Rolling Stones.

As all working stiffs know, a cup of coffee (or two, or three) in the morning is a shot of much-needed fuel. But for java slingers like Second Cup and arch rivals Timothy’s and Starbucks, driving morning business to their fine caffeine emporiums is an ongoing battle.

Kicking the morning coffee wars up another notch, Toronto-based Second Cup has enlisted some rather unexpected foot soldiers: Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron of the tireless, rock ‘n’ roll super-band, The Rolling Stones. In an unlikely union, a promotional contest in all 400 locations across Canada will be inviting customers to ‘Wake up with Second Cup,’ and ‘Wake up with the Rolling Stones in L.A.’ come Sept. 9.

Bell Globemedia hooked Second Cup up with one of the media conglomerate’s advertisers, Virgin Music, who organized the Stones deal with the coffee retailer.

Research conducted last year confirmed what most coffee enthusiasts already know: 70% of all Second Cup’s business was conducted in the morning, so the company quickly began gearing most of its ads and promos around the before-noon theme. It has even launched a new coffee in combination with the promotion, the Early Edition Blend, specifically for morning business.

‘We want to drive new customers and force morning traffic, and this will reward people for coming in. We are always looking for new ways to make ourselves distinct as the place to go for great specialty coffee,’ says Mike Arseneault, director of marketing at Second Cup. ‘The Stones are a classic rock band but they appeal to so many people, everyone from young people and kids to the older generation that grew up with them.’

One component of the promotion is a contest to win a trip to see the revered rockers play a concert at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Participants can enter online at Second Cup’s Web site, or in any of the cafés.

Secondary prizes include a trip to Toronto to see The Stones perform at Toronto’s SkyDome on Oct. 18. Also, the 35,000 subscribers to Second Cup’s monthly online newsletter will get the chance to win one of 10 signed copies of the band’s new best-of album, 40 Licks, celebrating their 40-year anniversary.

‘This is a perfect fit with our target group (24- to 49-year-olds, skewed slightly female). The Stones are a hugely adored band and this will create tremendous excitement and interest for both Second Cup and the band’s new CD,’ says Rob Nadler, group account director at Holmes & Lee, which is designing Second Cup’s supporting advertising materials and P-O-S in conjunction with Second Cup’s media group, Gaggi Media.

In a surprising bit of music-licence wrangling, Second Cup managed to snag the rights to ‘Start Me Up’ exclusively for the duration of the three-week promo blitz, ending on Sept. 29. The track will be predominantly played in the TV component, two 30-second spots running solely on CTV across Canada.

The commercials feature two distinct messages. The first tells people they ‘need’ Second Cup to help them to get their day started, with the tagline ‘Wake up with the Early Edition Blend.’ The second centres on the contest, enticing viewers to ‘Wake up with the Rolling Stones in L.A.’

Nadler recalls it was a fairly harrowing experience in building the promotion. He explains that instead of spreading Second Cup’s media buy cash to various media outlets, Gaggi pitched the idea of an ‘all-in-one’ approach where the company would throw all of its media money to one large (most likely converged) media company on the condition of it offering something that the others could not.

Bell Globemedia won because one of its advertisers is the record label Virgin, which the Stones belong to. When the ‘Start Me Up’ idea was pitched, Nadler remembers ‘everyone going crazy. How could you turn down the Rolling Stones?’ But it almost didn’t happen. A few days before going to plan B, as he recalls, Virgin finally sent the OK to go ahead with the song’s licence.

Even though ‘Start Me Up,’ is most recognized with Microsoft – it was the theme song for the Windows 95 launch – Nadler isn’t concerned with brand misassociation.

‘We’re not worried about that at all. It took us 10 seconds to realize that the song is the perfect fit for Second Cup.’