P&G POURS MILLSTONE'S FIRST NATIONAL TV EFFORT: D'ARCY CREATES $20 MIL PUSH AS UPSCALE COFFEE BATTLES STARBUCKS

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Procter & Gamble Co. serves up a fresh gourmet coffee strategy this week with its first national campaign for Millstone.

The estimated $20 million effort is the first work from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, since Millstone moved from sister shop N.W. Ayer & Partners in March. The national push comes as rival Starbucks Coffee Co. gains steam in supermarket sales.

The ads feature coffee cups morphing into an ocean liner, mountains and the moon to highlight Foglifter, Swiss Chocolate Almond and Caffe Midnight, respectively -- three of the more than 60 varieties of Millstone.

The tagline is "All you need is a taste for adventure."

Millstone is "all about meeting the needs of the gourmet coffee drinker," said P&G Brand Manager Tony Ueber, adding that the advertising concept reflects that mission.

A DEPARTURE

The ads also are a departure from traditional coffee advertising, said D'Arcy Account Director Ron Cohen, who has worked on the brand since 1996.

"Coffee has become more than a commodity product," he said. "Millstone offers many different varieties to choose from, each of which provides a distinct experience. This advertising dramatizes that benefit in a sensual and arresting manner."

The campaign will run on national TV in one 30-second version and two :15s, plus radio and print. It is slated to run through April.

P&G bought Millstone in 1995, and earlier this year acquired Brothers Gourmet Coffee for $23 million. P&G is transferring the Brothers line and distribution over to Millstone. The Millstone brand is available in more than 10,000 grocery stores nationwide.

BATTLEFIELD CHANGES

The ads come as the battlefield changes in the slow-growing whole-bean segment of the supermarket coffee business. Both Millstone and Starbucks have posted significant gains, while category leader A&P's Eight O'Clock coffee has stumbled.

Millstone far outpaced the supermarket whole-bean coffee category for the 52 weeks ended July 18, according to Information Resources Inc.

The brand, ranked third in the $238 million category, saw sales rise 14% to $21 million. The next largest brand is upstart Starbucks, which posted $17 million in sales, up a whopping 300% for the same period. That rise can be attributed to increased availability of Starbucks; it was rolled out nationally into supermarkets during the period.

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