Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible

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The biggest challenge with advertising food and drink is really conveying its essential features to an audience –– taste and smell.

Earlier ads from Folgers took place in exclusive restaurants where the coffee was secretly switched with Folgers’ product. However, in their 1986 commercial, the narrative of a relative returning for Christmas is eminently more relatable for most consumers than going to an expensive restaurant.

The ad’s recognizable characters also respond in familiar ways to the coffee product. The children smell the coffee as they make it, and as each family member wakes they take deep inhalations of the aroma wafting through the house. Everybody notices the product, even if they cannot see it. The round of satisfied sighs as everybody enjoys the drink further reinforces the taste and smell which the audience are not able to participate in.

The campaign is not only effective at conveying the essential features and value of the product. It is also selling an idealistic Christmas scene, associating quaint and happy family life with the product in the audience’s mind. The commercial ran until 1998 and in edited form until 2005, transforming Folgers into the U.S.’s leading coffee brand.

Folgers was subsequently sold for $3 billion in 2008, and in 2009 the popular ad was somewhat less successfully reimagined.

Indeed, the sequel has caused controversy, with viewers suggesting that the brother-sister relationship is less than platonic. In any event, the campaign’s success is demonstrated by both its longevity and Forgers’ resulting market dominance.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Turn your brand into a household name by incorporating it into a relatable story.

Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focuses on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition