Costa Coffee: seemingly disembodied heads in a sea of coffee beans sing Kiss in this memorable ad.

By Craig Mawdsley, chief strategy officer, AMV BBDO,, Tuesday, 06 November 2012 11:34AM

The only time anyone has spoken to me on the Tube (without begging, encouraging me to repent, or ordering me to 'move down') involved coffee.

 Skip to table

A pack of Nespresso capsules was sticking out of my bag - the only encouragement a fellow passenger needed to engage me in a detailed conversation about my preferred 'grand cru'.

Coffee lovers, erm, love coffee. It evokes passion, and that's just what's been missing from the mega coffee-shops - they tend to elevate the experience, rather than the product.

Many 'baristas' exemplify this - they are the mechanics of the food and drink world. Highly trained, but ultimately robotic. Yes, Starbucks, even a robot could ask my name.

Coffee shops need to recapture their humanity, and that's what Costa has done with its latest ad.

This is classically salient advertising. Catchy tune, quirky characters, an interesting setting and a heavy dose of surrealism. It has attracted half a million views on YouTube, testament to how memorable and engaging it is.

Kiss' (uncharacteristic) disco tune forms the backbone of the ad, and leaves the viewer in no doubt as to its message. So begins the entertainment: 76 very human (although seemingly bodiless) baristas serenade us about their passion for coffee.

Are they buried in beans or are they 'coffee heads'? No matter: either way, they're into the stuff, and that's what works with this ad.

In a market where the only point of difference is, arguably, the design of your cup, the people who serve it matter. The production is impressive, with so many baristas-cum-actors to synchronise.

This ad also builds on the '7/10 prefer Costa' campaign nicely, giving us a reason why people prefer the brand's coffee, but does passion equate to quality? I love coffee, but it doesn't mean I make a good cup.

It's sad that a category as non-utilitarian as coffee should be in any way comparable to supermarkets and financial-services aggregators. It's clear, however, that coffee has become another sector flooded with undifferentiated brands. I challenge you to remember who you bought your last coffee from in an unfamiliar railway station (probably Costa, actually).

This is a great ad for advertising - when nothing else differentiates your brand, your advertising certainly can. Just ask Comparethemarket.

The one place where real coffee innovation has happened recently, however, is with the arrival and elevation to near-religion of Nespresso. It's Nestle that has realised that coffee lovers care about the bean, too.

Brand strategy verdict: 8 out of 10

Brings personality to a category in dire need of it and cuts through brilliantly. However, is staff passion enough in a category where the product is the real hero?

Adwatch (Nov 7) Top 20 recall: Costa Coffee
Latest Oct-31 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1= (–) Ocean Spray  Arnold Worldwide/
1= -5  Dare/Carat 57
3 (–) Sky  WCRS/MediaCom 50
4 (–) Costa Coffee  Karmarama/
5= (1=) Argos  CHI&Partners/
5= (–) Comet  Havas Worldwide/
7 (–) Heinz Soup  Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO/
8 -6 Isme  Contagious
9 (–) Kellogg's
Mini Max
Leo Burnett/Carat 28
10 (–) Iams  Saatchi & Saatchi
New York/Starcom
11 (–) Ibis Hotels  BETC Paris/MPG 26
12 (–) Kwik-Fit  Adam & Eve DDB/
13 (–) John West  JWT Cheetham
14= (–) Guinness  Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO/Carat
14= (13=) Asda  Saatchi & Saatchi/
14= (–) Farmfoods  In-house/In-house 23
17 (-) Coke Zero  Publicis Conseil/
18= -18  Contagious
TCS Media
18= (–) Lynx  Victors & Spoils/
18= (–) Danone

This article was first published on


You must log in to use Clip & Save

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Campaign Jobs