A Fresh Approach to Good Coffee


Maxwell House Coffee is coming off its two-year media hiatus with a campaign focusing on its good coffee. In a world where everything is OMG a-mazing, can “good” stand alone?

The 121-year-old company is bringing a fresh approach to its brand, hoping to capture new drinkers while continuing to resonate with dedicated fans. The goal is that new products, positioning, logos, and brand voice will elevate the Kraft Foods brand—currently situated within the middle-tier coffee category, resting comfortably in a distant second place to Folgers.

Maxwell House dug deep into understanding its consumers and successfully identified its target. The “good to the last drop” company is reviving its iconic tagline (as coined by none other than Teddy Roosevelt!) and sprucing up its traditional blue packaging—while focusing on what it calls the blue-color optimist, a solid and dependable everyman. Launched on Monday, its new TV spot has a clear brand voice. It opens on a 50-something, Middle-America type with a cup of coffee in his hand: “In pursuit of all things ‘awesome, amazing, that’s epic, bro’… we’ve forgotten just how good good is.” So Maxwell House is trying to remind us that good is, well, pretty darned, uh… good.

Now, I am not a member of the coffee maker’s target audience and, honestly, I don’t even know if I’ve ever knowingly consumed Maxwell House coffee… but the use of “good” just doesn’t resonate with me. Karl Lieberman, the creative director at Wieden+Kennedy, the agency responsible for the spot, believes that the middle-line approach is best for conservative Maxwell House. But curiously enough, he notes: “‘Good’ is a word that would not make it out of a committee or focus group today, because someone would say, ‘Shouldn’t Maxwell House be great to the last drop?’ 

So, then, this coming-out party is headlined with a campaign rooted in the sentiment of… good. Good? Yes, this coffee is the reliable study-buddy that helps you get a B—who really needs an A, after all? Both Karl and I seem to be on the same page in that regard.


Ashley Emershaw is an Associate Strategic Planner at Rauxa in New York.

Image by chichachaCC BY 2.0