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Anatomy of an Ad: Behind the scenes of Taylors of Harrogate's 'Welcome to Coffee' ad

Taylors of Harrogate took an unconventional approach to advertising its roast and ground coffee brand on television for the first time. Launched earlier this month, the 60-second creative takes viewers on a journey through a ‘coffee cosmos’ to communicate the experience of drinking good coffee. The Drum speaks with the creative agency behind ‘Welcome to Coffee, BMB, to discover the thought process behind it.

In launching its first TV campaign for its range of roast and ground coffee, Taylors of Harrogate wanted a creative that moved away from the “style conscious and image led” advertising which currently dominates the sector, approaching long-term creative agency BMB with a brief to bring it back to “the juice” and the “experience of drinking really good coffee.”Speaking with The Drum, BMB creative director Simon Bere explains that creatively the agency wanted to do something unexpected for the category. “Taylors coffee is already a bestseller so it’s known for being a very good product, but this is the first time they’ve supported it with advertising and you only have one chance to come to the marketplace cold and have an impact. “The brief was fairly open but we all very much knew we wanted to do something out of the category that changed the way it was looked at.”Having worked with Taylors of Harrogate since 2007 primarily on its Yorkshire Tea brand, Bere cites this long-term relationship as a contributing factor to the agency’s ability to “think outside of the box”. “Because we know [Taylors] as a company that doesn't let process stand in the way, we had that trust between us to talk about the things we maybe wouldn’t want to do which led to more open conversations,” says Bere, adding that in all the conversations the chat always came back to the “experience of good coffee”. With this in mind he hints that various scripts were drawn up to find a way of telling this story that “hadn’t been done before”, and it was in the process of putting together a mood film featuring “explosions made in nature” that created the lightbulb moment leading to the ‘Welcome to Coffee’ creative.

After pitching the idea to Taylors, who “loved the ambition and confidence” of it, BMB set out to find the right director, and at the top of that list was Frank Budgen, who had previously worked on award-winning campaigns for Nike, Sony and Guinness. “It doesn’t hurt working with people like Frank,” laughs Bere, adding that he too was game for doing something “experimental and interesting”. Both Budgen and Taylors were keen to avoid video effects to make the creative as unique and individual as it possibly could be, meaning the shoot wasn’t the “standard three day set up”. “We all wanted to approach this from a different angle, so most of what you see on screen was shot on camera which is unusual, and even I’m not used to seeing that,” admits Bere. “We shot it so that when watching it you suddenly hear or see something that makes you look in a way you weren’t before. We wanted to cause that uncertainty of ‘Are we in the ad break?’ with the intention of all of these different elements being it needs more than one viewing. We wanted to create an ad with a bit of longevity that each time you view you see different things in different ways.”In order to create this ‘coffee cosmos’, Budgen took over three weeks within his Willesden work studio experimenting with lights, shapes, sounds and textures. “Day 21 soon became Day 28 and the shoot went on for a good long time,” remarks Bere. When asked if at any point the agency or the client were concerned about the timescale of the shoot, Bere comments that in any shoot there are “always times when you’re not sure”, adding that as because they were trying to do something new and different meant that a lot of the time there wasn’t any point of reference. “We were almost making it up as we went along, right up until the end. We knew the images being produced were great but we didn’t know how they would all come together in the end, but luckily we were all driving in the same direction and you have to have faith that sometimes if you’re not seeing something, someone else is.”

On first viewing, one of the most startling elements of the ad's composition, as well as the images, is the music and the lack of voiceover, leaving the viewer wondering what the ad is for right up until the end. According to Bere, this was a conscious decision and a continuation of the agency’s vision to “defy conventions”. “If there had been a voiceover it would have broken the spell a little. When you loosen your grip on what should be done in an ad you can get to a place that’s much more interesting.” The same can be said of the soundtrack, a rendition of an 1855 American composition called ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’, which Bere admits to The Drum was not the first choice as the music had been “painfully” pre-selected by BMB and Taylors prior to shooting. “When I heard it I just thought ‘Ah’. It was one of those moments and it just brought everything together. So when we had the next client meeting and they thought we were making all this progress we turned around and said ‘listen to this piece of music’. “I won’t lie, the initial response was ‘what the hell was that’ but on listening to it again they got it. There’s something about this counterintuitive piece of music that just works.”A blend of “the obvious with the unconventional”, Bere believes that BMB, Budgen and Taylors have all come together and “with this ad we’ve tried to be in that space in every which way possible”. CreditsProject: Taylors ‘Welcome To Coffee’Client name & job title: Simon Eyles – Marketing DirectorJessica Bacon – Marketing ManagerLiz Skilbeck – Brand ManagerDom Dwight – Head of Brand CommunicationsSam Ward – Brand PR ManagerCreative Agency: BMBExecutive Creative Director: Trevor BeattieCreative Director: Simon BereCopywriter: Tom SIllarsArt Director: Danny AsensioAgency Planner: Tamsin NorthridgeMedia Agency: GoodstuffProduction Company: GorgeousDirector: Frank BudgenProduction Co. Producer: Ciska Faulkner Post-production Company: Realise

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