Caribou Appoints Agency of Record: Colle & McVoy, Minneapolis

Coffee Chain Launched Search After Years of Working With Regional Shops on Project Basis

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CHICAGO ( -- Here's another sign that the coffee wars are nowhere near a cease-fire: Caribou Coffee, the second-largest coffeehouse chain, with about 500 locations, has moved its advertising account to Colle & McVoy, Minneapolis.

Blackline Marketing conducted the agency search. Other finalists included Campbell Mithun and Martin/Williams. Caribou has generally parceled out advertising work to regional agencies on a project basis. Those agencies included 22 Squared, Ultra Creative and Baker. But the company has not had a formal agency of record in more than four years.

"We are excited and looking forward to a wonderful relationship," said Alfredo Martel, Caribou's senior VP-marketing. "We are confident they will help us drive our brand forward and lead Caribou into a new, differentiated positioning that will resonate with consumers for years to come." Mr. Martel has been on the job for a little more than three months.

In a statement, Christine Fruechte, CEO of Colle & McVoy, said, "We have been given an amazing opportunity to help Caribou Coffee become the leading gourmet-coffee brand in the world. Every idea we create needs to be engaging and tell the brand's memorable story through groundbreaking programs."

The agency's first work, a radio promotion for Caribou's bakery, will begin airing Monday.

Loyal following
Caribou has built a loyal following in the past decade based on its quirky stores, baked goods and prices slightly lower than Starbucks'. It also offers an alternative to the much-larger chain. Caribou has a presence in 19 states, with concentrations in the Midwest and on the Eastern seaboard. But with its premium positioning, the chain doesn't seem to be faring any better than its rival. Caribou reported a 6% decline in revenue, to $54 million, for its most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 28. That's equivalent to Starbucks' 6% drop in sales, to $2.6 billion, in its most recent quarter, which ended Dec. 28.

But Caribou isn't taking its lumps lying down. The marketer more than doubled its measured media spending in 2008. It spent $1.4 million in the first nine months of 2008, compared with $770,000 in all of 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Caribou's spending is expected to remain at similar levels in 2009.

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Marissa Miley contributed to this report.
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