Inside Folgers’ plan to trade his bad name for punk-rock rebellion

Folgers has a reputation problem. At a time when bespoke coffee blends have firmly established themselves in the American mainstream, the 172-year-old dispenser still holds a place in many people’s minds as an ordinary red box in Grandma’s closet. . Its marketing conjures up memories of TV commercials featuring morning sunshine, floating aromas and lots of stretching – not to mention some misfires — with a signature jingle about what the best part about waking up is.

The JM Smucker-owned brand bears such sleepy associations after decades of staying in its lane as the household coffee blend that serves an estimated 35 million consumers a year, according to data from the IRI National Consumer Panel, which puts it at the top of the category. But like so much else, the pandemic has altered home routines significantly, necessitating a renewed approach, with Folgers now seeking a new cultural edge.

Millennials and Gen Zers, who once shunned brewing their own Joe in favor of a morning stop at Starbucks on the way to work, bought French presses, espresso machines and other coffee makers In large numbers as they adjust to working from home. With this sweeping change, Folgers and agency PSOne, a bespoke Publicis unit for The JM Smucker Co., saw an opportunity to reinvent the label, while tackling what they see as common misconceptions. JM Smucker, whose other offerings include Meow Mix and Dunkin’s retail brands, consolidated US creative and media functions from Publicis in 2018, while PSOne took over the work from Folgers the following year.

“People, especially a younger audience who probably haven’t made coffee before or haven’t made it as religiously as they do now, are getting into it,” said Erica Roberts, Creative Director at the house of PS One and Publicis New York. “We know that this new audience [believes] this profession is quite critical.

An advertising campaign that dropped last week creates what Roberts described as “a wake-up call for America” ​​when it comes to understanding Folgers. The banner’s 60-second spot, titled “Allow Us to Reintroduce Ourselves,” opens with a woman walking down a grocery aisle filled with red Folgers cans, with the iconic jingle buzzing in the background. She makes eye contact with a trendy young couple who seem to disapprove of her choice of coffee before happily slipping the goods into her cart as “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts enters the scene, crushing the soundtrack.

“There’s a bit of a marriage between the old and the new. It’s a brand that’s been misunderstood for so long,” Roberts said. “We needed to shake people up thinking about us. Sometimes that requires a rebellious punk rock anthem.”

The ad continues to show a variety of Folgers fans and employees at its New Orleans factories, an attempt to establish a stronger connection to Louisiana roots than consumer research has shown that the most people didn’t know, but that looked like a crucial link with a craft position. Folgers operates three manufacturing plants supporting approximately 750 jobs in the area and has worked to help the city recover from disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

At the end of the commercial, “Bad Reputation” is re-enacted by a marching band joined by local musician Trombone Shorty. The closing notes underline a sense of triumph, with a copy reading, “Proudly roasted, grilled in our hometown of New Orleans.”

“It was like an honest part of our story. We knew we wanted to tell the craft story, and that’s where it’s going,” Roberts said of NOLA’s guiding line in the work.

Brew a new take

Of course, one of the most notable changes Folgers has made is moving beyond “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up” jingle that’s been the brand’s calling card since 1984. “Bad Reputation” actually predates that. air, but it’s a lasting touchstone for aspiring punks. rockers. Miley Cyrus recently covered the track, while younger consumers may remember her prominence in 2001’s “Shrek.”

“It’s 100% an ageless, culturally ingrained track,” Roberts said.

A musical pivot from comfort to energy in your face follows an anonymous person acquiring all the royalties for “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up” jingle last year. The song’s auction listing claimed it was generated more than $11,000 in royalties in the 12 months preceding the sale, most of it coming from television commercials. Roberts was firm that the change did not inform the decision to refresh Folgers.

“It has nothing to do with the choice to come up with this new campaign,” she said. “This campaign was in development.”

Other elements of the redesign – appeal to younger consumers, a stronger sense of attitude, and deeper cultural ties – dovetail nicely with PSOne’s previous work for JM Smucker. Last year, the agency group changed the marketing of the Jif peanut butter label with a campaign that attempted to bridge the gap between the old and new school of hip-hop. The ads showed motor-mouthed rapper Ludicrous discovering a new, more lyrical flow after eating a spoonful of Jif, a concept derived from the criticism that rap newcomers sound like they have peanut butter on the roof. from the mouth. For those who grew up with Jif’s advertisements about being the first choice of discerning suburban mothers, it was a remarkable 180.

Still, Roberts pointed out that PSOne takes a personalized approach to each brand in JM Smucker’s portfolio.

“It’s a very different story in that Jif has always been about taste… whereas Folgers has always been about the routine, the cafe lifestyle,” Roberts said. “But they never talked, in a meaningful way, about what happened in the best parts of the revival.”

Fighting misperceptions

To complement the anthem ad, Folgers and PSOne produced a series of shorter 15- and 6-second video ads that attempt to paint a fuller picture of the brand. A spot, “No One Hit Wonder,” opens like an old-school Folgers ad before showcasing a product line that extends far beyond the red can, including via a heritage label high end 1850 introduced in 2018 that targets millennials. In total, the company markets more than 20 varieties of coffee.

Additional elements include integrations with Vice and placements on networks like E!, NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, and ABC. A dedicated landing page on the Folgers website guides visitors through the history of the company and the work it does to dispel its bad reputation. On social media, the brand is rolling out links with popular influencers The Try Guys and @Rod, a TikTok creator who riffs on millennial trends and has an audience of 1.4 million. Experiential activations will be considered later, though details on that front are scarce at this time.

In the meantime, Folgers is encouraging her core fans to use the hashtag #DamnRightItsFolgers as a kind of rebuke to receiving side-eyes for their coffee choice.

“It’s a final chest beat, not the trademark chest beat,” Roberts said. “It’s more the pride of the people who drink it, the people who brew it, the people who make it.”

Diana J. Carleton