"Our consumers are optimists. They see the cup as half full," says Jerry Densk, director of marketing for Kraft's mainstream coffee category. "We're offering them the best cup of Maxwell House ever made."
The company recently reformulated its coffee to include only 100% Arabica beans, which make the coffee less bitter than other mainstream coffees, Densk says. Although the new formulation hit the shelves in October (backed by television commercials), the company is taking the Thanksgiving weekend to build awareness.
Today--the busiest travel day of the year--the company will pay the tolls on selected tollways between 7 and 9 in the morning. Instead of doing the taking, toll staffers will hand out vacuum-sealed trial packs of the new Maxwell House coffee. The company will also match each toll paid with a donation to America's Second Harvest (up to $100,000.)
On Black Friday--the busiest shopping day of the year--the company will set up kiosks in 15 malls around the country, to give away free-brewed samples of their coffee to early morning shoppers.
Both promotions are intended to drive home the point of Maxwell House's new marketing campaign, which runs along the theme: "It's a new morning. Brew some good." The campaign also features television ads that have been running since October. The ads show typical consumers in everyday moments, paying tribute to their optimism while saying that the "naysayers and second-guessers" can sleep in.
Despite the new theme, Maxwell House will continue to prominently display its well-known tagline, "Good to the last drop," on its packaging and Web site, Densk says. The line has too much equity to let go, but the new line is intended to resonate more with today's consumers, he says. "We feel that it reinvigorates the brands with today's consumers," he says.
Despite the boom in specialty coffees in recent years, more than 80% of Americans buy mainstream coffee off the grocery store shelves, Densk says. The company opted to reformulate its coffee after consumer research revealed that many people thought most mainstream coffee was too dark and too bitter, Densk says.