Van Houtte explores what it takes to be a master

Ahead of its 100th anniversary next year, the coffee brand highlights the traits that get someone to the peak of their craft.

Having spent the last few years establishing its “master roaster” positioning, Keurig coffee brand Van Houtte has turned to exploring the qualities intrinsic to mastery itself as it prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

Late last month, it launched the second phase of its ongoing “Master Roaster. Master of Coffee” brand campaign. Developed by Sid Lee, the new ads feature Lotfi Lamaali, a professional (read: “master”) longboarder pulling off tricks along the Promenade of the Old Port of Montreal to the music of Bran Van 3000’s Drinking in L.A (the magic of post-production helps viewers imagine the master roaster as the one with the impressive moves).

With Spark Foundry handling media, the ads are being broadcast on TV and video-on-demand in six- and 15-second formats, supported with a digital push. A follow-up ad set to launch this winter will explore the same theme from the angle of mastering the Charleston dance, according to Caroline Losson, VP of marketing at Keurig Canada.

Last year, Keurig sought to establish the Van Houtte name by making the master analogy with other famous “Vans,” such as artist Van Gogh and electric guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Those ads came the year after Van Houtte completed a rebrand designed to position the roaster as a gourmet option.

Now, with the brand name “clearly established” and the master roaster positioning already in play, Losson says the company has turned to promoting the “personality traits required to be a master of something.”

“We’re trying to be entertaining by showing that when you’re a true master, your passion and dedication goes beyond the specific art that you actually master,” she explains.

The sport of longboarding was chosen for its ties to popular culture and because it connects well with a younger audience, which has been a priority for the brand, according to Losson. The sport is meant to make Van Houtte feel more contemporary and plays well on TV given the awe-inspiring nature of the moves performed.

Losson previously told strategy that the brand has looked to push beyond its home province and into Ontario. While it has already made some headway on that front, the bulk of its anniversary efforts will be focused on English Canada. For example, the Charleston winter ad will only be played in the Ontario market, except for a special edition airing during Quebec New Year’s Eve program ByeBye. The spot will come in longer 30- and 15-second formats and will help kick off the anniversary celebrations beginning in February.

Van Houtte’s efforts next year will revolve around the launch of a special anniversary coffee blend (in Keurig pods and traditional formats), local partnerships promoting mastery of different crafts (such as a donut and beer making), a “master fund” through which it will provide up-and-coming experts with bursaries, as well as an interactive show in Montreal and Toronto. The latter is being planned with Lg2 and Gentillehome and will allow consumers to experience the eight steps of coffee making, from bean to bistro.

“We want to make [the] brand part of Canada’s pop culture, so that it’s cool again,” says Losson. “Not a young, edgy brand, but one that people are proud of in Canada.”