ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Nescafe

It's hard to believe that it is more than 20 years ago that Gareth Hunt was drilling the Nescafe brand into our brains with that clever little "bean shake", an undeniable rational sell: "It's the beans! ... That's why Nescafe is 'coffee at its best'." (2) Although scripted like some sketch from a Carry On movie, it was unashamedly piggy-backing popular culture.

This celeb-driven strategy endured for decades. Another old favourite was the Ian Wright ad towards the end of the 90s (4). Football was enjoying a new popularity driven by investment in the game and the exploitation of TV rights. It was a new cultural phenomenon, accessible to everyone, and Ian Wright had become one of the first new celebrities to emerge from the game. Although this type of advertising genre will have many copywriters falling off their pencils, it had that warm, safe, homely, good feel to it - who wouldn't want to have their favourite football hero drop in for a cuppa?

But undoubtedly the most famous Nescafe advertising of all was for Gold Blend. When it launched in 1987, no-one could have predicted that a "soapomercial" was in the making and that a simple request for a coffee from Sharon Maughan, the femme fatale of the original ads, would develop into an 11-year romance that gripped the whole country and had News at Ten announce the conclusion (1).

The idea was brilliant in its simplicity - making advertising like a programme with each episode ending on a cliff-hanger.

Its soap-opera formula was a shift from the brand's historic celeb-driven, product-driven sell to one of consumer-driven emotional engagement.

In 1993, it climaxed with the "I love you" ad after screening a compilation of all 11 episodes and a final commercial where the happy couple disappears into the sunset.

In fact, the whole integrated media and creative package would stand the test of time in today's sophisticated multimedia environment where "engagement" in communications is the new buzz-word. It's proof, if ever proof were needed, that great ideas drive both creative and media behaviour, and also proof that great ideas change behaviour: sales of Gold Blend grew by more than 70 per cent.

Nescafe continued to ride on the back of popular media culture. In the early 90s, it appealed to the MTV generation with a targeted execution called "sunrise" (3). A teenager in a VW Beetle, driving out of the city at the early hours, suffering (we're led to believe) from teenage heartache, but with the Johnny Nash track - I Can See Clearly Now - and a mug of Nescafe. It's simple but it hits the spot.

And so to the 21st century. Back to the bean and the rational hard sell again. A number of ten-second executions where "the bean" is being tortured to "get more from the bean for a great full flavour" (5).

"Hairy Ford Cortina" was inspirational. Full- flavour behaviour is a great idea (6). The statesmanship of Alan Whicker's voiceover with the "chill out" behaviour of Charles and his brothers is entertaining, brilliantly executed and communicates the point.

Looking back, Nescafe is probably the unsung hero of effective creative and media integration. It has generated some of the best populist advertising for a brand made of little brown granules and hot water. Now that's what I call full-flavour behaviour.

1. NESCAFE GOLD BLEND Title: Dinner party Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 1987 2. NESCAFE Title: BBQ Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 1986 3. NESCAFE Title: Sunrise Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 1989 4. NESCAFE Title: Wrighty Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 1999 5. NESCAFE ORIGINAL Titles: Rack, Tickle, Morris, Laser Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 2001 6. NESCAFE ORIGINAL Title: Hairy Ford Cortina Agency: McCann-Erickson Year: 2002

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