Folgers' new instant shoots from the hip

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Procter & Gamble Co. isn't about to let the upscale coffee bar craze eclipse its 149-year-old Folgers brand.

As part of a number of moves to add contemporary, even hip, appeal to its main coffee franchise, the marketer has launched a market test of a new instant, Folgers Cafe Latte.

P&G also is tweaking Folgers advertising to draw in younger consumers and update a campaign that made its debut in 1985. The estimated $50 million account is now housed at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York.

The Cafe Latte product -- known to be in Odessa-Midland, Texas -- was inspired by the popularity of coffee drinks sold at cafes such as Starbucks, said Steve Donovan, P&G's president-global beverages.

"It's targeted to appeal to young consumers who have been introduced to the latte-drinking phenomenon in cafes," he said.

Although Mr. Donovan said P&G isn't going directly after rival Kraft Foods' International Coffees, a test commercial features a young woman saying the coffee is "creamier and frothier than the other guy's."

Then she says, "It's not the coffee you drink to take a break from your day, it's the coffee you drink to break into it."

Folgers leads the $602 million instant-coffee category in supermarkets, but doesn't have flavored instants. Kraft's International Coffees are the No. 2 player behind Folgers in the segment, with sales of $122 million for the 52 weeks ended July 18, according to Information Resources Inc.


P&G's new commercials for ground Folgers, also the top seller in U.S. supermarkets, are slated to break during the next few months on network TV. They continue to use the longtime "Best part of wakin' up" theme; new are elements of pop culture and a reflection of more contemporary values.

First up is a holiday spot showing friends gathering to chop down a Christmas tree, only to change their mind because the tree looks so beautiful in the snowy forest. Another, to hip-hop music, shows a young man on an elevated train in the morning enjoying his Folgers from a sleek travel mug.


"We're getting a little hipper, a little younger," said Arthur Meranus, exec VP-global creative director at D'Arcy. Mr. Meranus has worked on the Folgers brand for more than two decades, and helped evolve the campaign from the days of the brand's famed Mrs. Olsen spokeswoman.

The holiday spot replaces a popular, emotion-filled commercial that ran for 13 years; it showed a young man named Peter coming home for the holidays. The new one features a cappella group Rockapella.

That commercial is set to premiere Nov. 25 on NBC's broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, immediately following a performance by Rockapella on Folgers' float in the parade.

Mr. Meranus said P&G hasn't been quick to embrace change, but has been willing.

"Getting out of the house was a 10-year argument. Using celebrities was a five-year argument," he joked.

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