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TORONTO-How can you possibly make a cup of coffee sexy, intriguing, exotic?

That was the problem facing Marc Inkol, director of strategy at Kraft General Foods Canada, whose International Coffee brands of flavored instant were lackluster performers in the 15.4 million pound instant coffee market.

In 1992, specialty coffees-including instant cappuccino, espresso, cafe au lait and flavored brands-accounted for 14% of the instant coffee market here. These brands also account for 11% of the $165.4 million spent on instant coffee advertising, Nielsen said.

The problem, Mr. Inkol decided, was that although GF's flavors sounded exciting-French Vanilla, Irish Creme and Swiss Mocha among others-the marketing campaign was predictable.

"It was called `tenderness,' and it was very low key. It was a `moment,' like a woman on a dock enjoying a cup of coffee. The idea was that people use it for a relaxing break," Mr. Inkol says.

Pretty pictures, no results. "We found the image, though nice, wasn't cutting it. People didn't remember the product."

Working with creative team Leif Nielsen, Rich Davis and Troy McClure at Young & Rubicam, Toronto. Mr. Inkol developed an arresting visual image. TV, print and outdoor ads showed a stationary coffee cup, with an animated swirl of steam rising from the brew. The aroma becomes a can-can dancer for French Vanilla, a skier for Swiss Mocha and a leprechaun doing a jig for Irish Creme, with appropriate music. Simple, yet memorable.

The tagline-"a getaway from the everyday"-reinforced the idea that drinking a GF International Coffee was like taking a mini-trip to a foreign land.

"It was was a powerful mnemonic," says Mr. Inkol, who had no problem selling the idea to his bosses. "It's incredibly simple. All the people saw the potential of this," he says.

But there was more than just potential. While the total instant coffee category fell 7% to $110.7 million in 1993 from a year earlier, the instant specialty segment, helped by the new GF campaign, was up 22% to 15.8 million pounds.

And GF's share of the instant specialty coffee segment, according to Nielsen, also grew 24% in dollars for the year.

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