CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/NESCAFE - McCann-Erickson is trying to sell Nescafe to a young audience

Nescafe isn't Diesel or Levi's. Nescafe isn't cool. In fact,

Nescafe is as far away from being cool as Palmers Green is from


McCann-Erickson could be forgiven for burying its creative head in its

hands with despair when Nestle decided that what its premier coffee

brand needed was a touch of "yoof" about it. McCann knows that this

repositioning could all too quickly look about as hip as the local vicar

jiving in front of the youth club jukebox.

But if the first attempt is anything to go by, McCann might just have

done enough. The new ad sees "Charles", an afro-ed dude, and his pals

experiment with Hairgrow. When they decide to coat the top of Charles'

motor with the stuff, they spend the rest of the day driving around in a

Cortina with an outrageous 'fro growing from its roof. A nice detail is

the soundtrack - a reworking of Tone Loc's Funky Cold Medina becomes

Hairy Old Cortina.

Nestle's reason for the change from C-list celebrities brandishing red

mugs is simple: sales are down.

"Consumption in the coffee category is down," Ros Horne, the category

marketing manager on Nescafe, admits. "It's very important to get new

younger users into coffee, rather than them having soft drinks."

The current ad is a development on from the product change made in


A new "funky" jar accompanied a "fuller flavour". "We are trying to

increase the relevance of coffee, and Nescafe, with the 16- to

24-year-old market," Horne states.

Luke White, the creative director of McCann, adds: "The teenage market

is drinking coffee in coffee bars, but not as much at home as they


This campaign is supposed to be about turning the ordinary day into

something extraordinary - people displaying this full flavour behaviour

(part of the strapline), Nescafe bringing about a change in them where

they become a bit more stimulated."

The relaunch of Nescafe started at the end of last year and is a

long-term initiative. The product improvement was demonstrated in work

showing the coffee beans being tortured to produce a fuller flavour. The

strategy now calls for a shift to "emotional relevance" campaigns.

The advertising must win over teenagers now accustomed to coffee bar

coffee: lattes; mochas and skinnies. After this diet, instant doesn't

appeal. Also, the youth market is savvy and notoriously difficult to

sell to.

Horne agrees. "They are bombarded by messages and are more predisposed

to some categories. But obviously coffee does provide a key product

benefit to them: stimulation," she says.

Horne would like Nescafe to compete with the likes of Red Bull,

believing that kids will prefer to get their caffeine hit from the real


White says that the campaign is here for the long run: "We've shot

another ad that will air later in the year. We've got an Allan Wicker

radio campaign, where he scours the country looking for examples of full

flavour behaviour. This is very much the main thrust for Nescafe


As for making Nescafe cool? McCann may have cleared the first hurdle:

Chris Moyles has been playing Hairy Old Cortina on his Radio One show.

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