Maxwell House breaks for optimism

We asked Y&R Canada's Israel Diaz and Wind Mobile's Jennifer Petty to tell us how optimistic they are when it comes to the brand's latest “Brew some good” effort.     

Maxwell House thinks Canadians should be more positive, and has introduced the “optimism break,” the newest evolution of its “Brew some good” platform.
Maxwell House began “brewing good” in 2008 by spending money on causes rather than polished TV commercials, producing one for $19,000 that encouraged viewers to visit to nominate a charity.
This latest iteration, also from Ogilvy, features TV commercials using the tagline “Optimism is contagious.” One spot, called “Jessica’s Daily Affirmation” (a home video that went viral on YouTube), features a little girl talking about all the things she likes in her life. Another features The Book of Awesome author Neil Pasricha. Meanwhile, on Facebook and, visitors can access a top 10 list of optimistic movies and a list of charities that have been helped since the campaign launched.
Maxwell House is also projecting “Optimism Walls” in Montreal and Toronto, featuring an image of a coffee cup with an optimism meter. People can vote online on whether they think the cup is half full or half empty. They will also be able to tweet uplifting messages to be displayed on the walls. The brand also launched a pop-up café in Montreal and held an event in Toronto featuring visiting optimism ambassadors.
We asked Israel Diaz, CCO, Y&R Canada, and Jennifer Petty, head of communications at Wind Mobile, to tell us how optimistic they are when it comes to Maxwell House’s latest “Brew some good” effort.     

Overall strategy
It seems oddly sacrilegious to be replacing the long-standing Maxwell House tagline “Good to the last drop” to begin with, but when Ogilvy Toronto conjured up “Brew some good,” they managed to build on that original notion while making the brand more contemporary and relevant with today’s Generation G mindset (G for generosity). It’s a brilliantly simple, powerful and ownable platform that has strong emotional potential.
Petty: Excellent. Timely. Refreshing. Maxwell House is building social awareness in the hearts and minds of Canadians and what better way to do so than to be there at the proverbial waking moment. The brand has taken a very grassroots approach that reflects the quiet confidence of Canadians, our belief and commitment to doing “good” around the world. It takes an often lofty goal and makes it easy to get involved.

Campaign elements
Diaz: A 30-second TV spot simply doesn’t allow enough time for viewers to get emotionally connected. The message of “Optimism is contagious” on top of the “Brew some good” idea also leaves a lot of mental work for Joe Consumer. The dedicated YouTube channel and Facebook page will undoubtedly face stiff competition from other “feel-good” videos, blogs and articles. And since it’s coming from a major brand, there’s a risk of this iteration coming off as more opportunistic than optimistic.
Petty: What a truly clever way to approach optimism at a time when we could all use a healthy dose of it. We can all see ourselves in Jessica’s affirmation – or at least I can. This spot truly tugs at the heartstrings. I saw the father and son spot on Facebook for the first time and it sent shivers down my spine. What better place to build social awareness in the hearts and minds of Canadians than through social media?

Half full, or half empty?
Diaz: For me, the campaign was at its purest when it first launched: “help us find a way to do more good with the money we saved by not doing a slick commercial.” It was simple, honest and it felt active. But offering an “optimism break” adds a layer of complexity to the overall idea, which, had they stuck with it, probably could have remained fresh, yet single-minded, for a couple more years. Also missing this time is the call for consumer involvement and dialogue as encouraged in the first round of creative, returning them to the role of spectator instead of participant. And whether intended or not, this iteration now positions Maxwell House as an aggregator and reporter of all things good/optimistic versus being active leaders and creators of it.
Petty: This campaign leaves me asking myself, where do they go from here? I can’t wait to literally see and experience what’s next. I think “optimism” is a unique approach and thoroughly campaignable. It’s a solid, ownable foundation from which Maxwell House can springboard tactically in different directions, yet maintain their consistency of message and the integrity of their idea. I believe, as I have said throughout, that “optimism” is something we can all use a little more of and I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment. Is it half full or half empty? I say: the cup overfloweth.

advertiser Maxwell House; agency Ogilvy & Mather; CDs Nancy Vonk, Janet Kestin; writer Siobhan Dempsey; AD Nick Burton; producer Tessa Waisglass; interactive agency Trapeze; CD Mike Kasprow; strategic planner Jonathan Litwack; associate CD Mark Rozeluk; account supervisor Kim Le