Maxwell House brews goodwill

Maxwell House is perking up

Maxwell House is perking up some goodwill with its new ‘Brew Some Good’ campaign. The brand, owned by Toronto-based Kraft Canada, has improved its formula in response to demand for higher-quality coffees. Instead of a typical relaunch, the effort aims to spread the word that Maxwell House is giving back to the community.

‘We’ve tried to take [the brand] to an emotional level by reducing our production budgets and using the money to do good deeds,’ says Bill VandenBygaart, VP of beverages at Kraft Canada.

The concept originated in the U.S. Last Thanksgiving, Maxwell House covered fees at eight tollbooths, paid transit fares for NYC commuters and donated $100,000 to America’s Second Harvest. VandenBygaart and his team adapted the idea for the Canadian market, giving out cups of coffee, paying fares and enlisting Chantal Kreviazuk to busk for charity at Toronto’s Eglinton TTC station in March. It also announced a $100,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity.

The campaign also includes TV and print executions encouraging consumers to do good deeds. The team skimped on production costs and earmarked the $200,000 it saved to donate to charities nominated by consumers. The first TV spot explains the concept and invites consumers to nominate charities at

‘We could have just given the money away, but we thought it’d be more meaningful to involve consumers,’ says Nancy Vonk, co-CCO at Toronto-based Ogilvy & Mather.

We asked Karen Howe, VP/CD at Toronto’s Due North Communications, and Darren Warner, CD at Vancouver-based Wasserman + Partners, to weigh in.


Howe: ‘Brew Some Good’ is a solid umbrella for this campaign. Maxwell House has created something bigger and better by encouraging goodness on a larger stage. In doing so, it generates goodwill towards the brand. It’s a thoughtful approach that is far more emotionally involving than a mere product relaunch. From a big-picture standpoint, given the current climate with its focus of giving, the timing of this concept couldn’t be better.

Warner: A strong positioning and line; a nice link of product and the inherent optimism that comes with a new morning (which of course cannot begin without coffee). After only seeing the TV spot, I feel better about Maxwell House already. But I’ll wait to see if they can develop some Dove-like buzz.


Howe: The Canadian event was a perfect translation of the American launch.

Warner: The celeb busking will get some media attention, but doesn’t quite have the buzz of the original U.S. Thanksgiving kickoff. Probably more effective to those who experience it than those who only read about it.


Howe: Offering up the balance of the TV ad budget for a charity of your choice instead is a welcome and fresh gesture. Providing the consumer with the opportunity to nominate a charity recipient for recognition creates a terrific echo effect.

Warner: Nicely executed, simple and honest, in keeping with the premise. Allowing consumers to decide where Maxwell House donates the money really gives the campaign some momentum. The TV [ad] is the strongest of the pieces.


Howe: The print was handled adeptly. It makes its point about an improved product while offering you some helpful tools to ‘Brew Some Good’ of your own.

Warner: The print has lost the humanity of the more noble ‘acts of good’ that is the theme of the TV and activation pieces [the print ads feature notes like 'you're the cream in my coffee' that readers can cut out and post in their homes]. And will anyone be bothered to cut out the notes? Perhaps if they were stickers….


Warner: The website is a real disappointment. The TV spot is the hero, not the ‘possibilities’ that the money could inspire.

The creds

Kraft Canada

Bill VandenBygaart, VP beverages; Eric Yeung, senior product manager

Ad agency – Ogilvy & Mather

Nancy Vonk,Janet Kestin, CCOs; Tim Piper, Zachary Muir-Vavrina, ADs; Sussana Forieri,

writer; Trish Bugitzedes, Heather Moshoian, producers

PR agency – Strategic Objectives

Judy Lewis, co-founder/EVP; Tara McCarthy, VP; Vashti Singh, account manager