Folgers tries to clean up its ‘bad reputation’

The Smucker brand is "bringing some swagger to mainstream coffee" in a refresh meant to reinvigorate stale perceptions.

While it was the “best part of waking up” for older generations, Folgers knows it doesn’t have the best reputation in the eyes of younger consumers.

In fact, it’s admitting it, and doing so unapologetically in a brand refresh.

In a new campaign, a grocery shopper stares down some teens as a version of Folgers’ classic jingle plays over the PA, then swipes a wall of Folgers coffee off a shelf and into her cart as the music changes to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” The spot cuts to various scenes of the work that goes on in a Folgers warehouse and people using the coffee in artisinal brewing methods, while bold lettering proclaims that the brand is “unapologetic” about its “smooth, full-bodied flavour.”

“In some ways we’re admitting, hey, we may not have the best reputation, but we don’t care, we have damn good coffee and we’re proud of it,” says Adam Zitney, VP of marketing for Canada at Folgers parent company JM Smucker.

It’s all part of a move to “bring some swagger to mainstream coffee,” which is lagging growth of more premium segments, with song lyrics Zitney says reflect a bit of “chest-thumping” the brand is doing about a full-bodied coffee that pleases a lot of people. Shots of the production process and trendy pour-over brewing methods are also meant to that Folgers has the flavour for even craft coffee drinkers to among its fans.

At-home coffee demand has soared amid the pandemic. Zitney tells strategy that while sales were strong for Folgers as well – among the top three by volume in Canada – awareness was falling a bit and its reputation was getting stale. It was also under-indexing among younger consumer, he admits, who perceive Folgers coffee to be weak in flavour and the brand choice of their parents’ generation.

Widely known for its 80s tagline and jingle, ‘The Best Part of Wakin’ Up” went on to become one of the most recognizable pieces of advertising in North American culture. And Zitney says it’s not completely walking away from that earworm, but that it merely needed to shake things up.

The North American brand refresh comes to Canada with “heavy video plan,” Zitney says, which includes TV, OLV and some social. It’s also looking to introduce a retail marketing effort to get the message out and create presence in physical and virtual stores. It’s also going to launch new product innovations and contemporizing the packaging.

As it continues, the campaign will umbrella all the segments in its portfolio, including its popular K-Cups, and 1850 premium coffee.

“This refresh will be approached like a traditional masterbrand strategy,” Zitney explains.

The creative for the North American campaign was handled by PSOne, the dedicated agency Publicis Groupe created from Smucker last year. Leo Burnett handled additional creative elements for Canada and North Strategic helped on the PR side. Spark Foundry bought the media.

It’s a big increase in media spend, Zitney says, with a year over year double digit increase, not just in traditional video but broadening the channel reach.