OPINION: Mills on ... Kenco Rappor

Even by the inflated standards of this business, the press release from J. Walter Thompson fair ramped up the hype.

"JWT and Kraft in coffee advertising revolution," the headline ambitiously claimed. "JWT and Kraft have subverted the traditional coffee advertising model," it continued in bullish mode.

Now words such as "revolution" and "subvert" are quite serious, not the sort to be used frivolously - and certainly not if you work for bastions of decorum such as JWT and Kraft. So, if you're going to use them in association with coffee advertising, then there must be something exciting going on.

And heaven knows, instant coffee advertising has become so suburban these days it could do with a touch of the subversives.

But how subversive can you get with coffee ads? It seems pretty damn easy to me. Instead of drinking the stuff, you could show people watering the houseplants with it; or perhaps they could stain the kitchen table with it; or use the granules to scour the bath like coffee-flavoured Cif.

So what do we see but two student-type guys whizzing across Arizona on a Greyhound bus. One of them is asleep. The other is gazing listlessly out of the window. Suddenly a convertible with three girls in it draws up alongside. One of the girls flashes her baps. The one who is asleep misses it. His mate tries to wake him up. "Kenco Rappor. Live Now. Sleep Later," flashes the endline as we cut to one of the guys' rucksacks out of which, and you'll never guess this, pokes a jar of Kenco Rappor.

Sad fool that I am, I spent five minutes trying to work out what was subversive about this. Was it the fact that the tit flasher had her back to the camera? Well, that's not so much subversive as irritating. Was it the absence of a steaming cup or mug? Was the girl coffee-coloured?

Was Cherie Lunghi driving the car? Was Gareth Hunt driving the bus? Were the Gold Blend couple lurking in the seat behind and planning to nick the Kenco jar?

It turns out the subversive bit is in the strategy. According to research (and you would not expect JWT or Kraft to be less than diligent here) into the 18- to 25-year-old target market, taste and quality were "secondary in importance" (Kraft's words) to coffee's function as a stimulant, thus allowing drinkers to lead a full and interesting life. And life doesn't get much more interesting than seeing a girl flash her baps at you while you're inside a Greyhound bus. Yes indeed.

So while it may not be that subversive, there are a couple of interesting things going on here. First is the attempt by Kenco to target the youth market. It seems to me instant coffee has long given up on youth, preferring instead to sell romance to housewives. Notoriously difficult though it might be, it's probably worth having a go at students and their ilk, even if it means nicking your strategy from the likes of Red Bull or Pepsi Max.

But the really interesting bit about the strategy is Kraft's belief that taste and quality are secondary issues (which, in reality, means they probably don't matter at all). If you follow this line of thinking through, then it obviously doesn't matter what brand of coffee they drink, whether it's Gold Blend, Maxwell House, Carte Noire or Kwik-Save own-label.

Indeed, you could go further and conclude that, if stimulants are what you want, it doesn't even have to be coffee.

You may have thought that this column set out to ridicule this ad's claims to be revolutionary and subversive. On the contrary, to produce an ad that is a) a generic and b) could apply to competing product classes is truly subversive. And quite revolutionary too. Bravo.

Dead cert for a Pencil? A sharp one, in the eye.

File under ... B for bonkers.

What would the chairman's wife say? "Influenced by Heinz ... beans means