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By Doug Zanger | Americas Editor

May 18, 2016 | 4 min read

Score another one for the Midwesterners (raises hand — native Minnesotan here). Organic Valley and their agency, Humanaut, are on a roll. First? Saving the bros. Next? Dispelling the myth of “balanced” women. Now? The La Farge, Wisconsin-based cooperative has taken the stuffing (Midwesterners are polite) out of coffee and New York City hipster culture with the Organic Valley Coffee Shop, which served unsuspecting NoLita residents delicious organic half & half — which they could then enhance by pouring coffee, sitting on a nearby table, into it. It’s a flip of the coffee script, where jugs of creamer, from who knows where, usually line coffee shops from coast to coast.

“People who love a rich and creamy cup of joe have been using Organic Valley Half & Half to make the best cup of coffee for over 20 years,” explains van Tol, who managed the store opening and served as cream barista. “But at most coffee shops you have no idea what kind of cream you’re pouring into your coffee, or if it’s even organic. It just made sense that we should have our own coffee shop that focuses on what we believe is the most important ingredient.”

The trendy digs, created in partnership with the Bindery and Pink Sparrow, were manned in April by the decidedly untrendy (in a good way) Organic Valley farmer Gerrit van Tol. Chattanooga-based Humanaut chronicled van Tol’s journey from the peace of the Midwest to the busy streets of NYC with a long-form web film that gives “the business” to artisanal “maker” videos. Much like the half & half itself, there is good density to the playful jokes (the explanation of the logo is hilarious) and is dead-on in keeping with the essence of the middle part of the country.

All jokes aside, the brand and agency used some important insight to get to the essence of the work. 25 per cent of all Americans use half & half in their coffee at home and 30 per cent use it when in a restaurant. Additionally, New York City is one of Organic Valley’s strongest markets with Tripp Hughes, Organic Valley brand management director, stating that “New Yorkers appreciate the rich and delicious half & half that comes from our family farms and the organic cows that graze there on green pastures.”

Another interesting twist was the sampling itself. Pours of the half & half (in ‘Lil Bit, Double and Lotta sizes) were two dollars, but, according to Hughes, “Our secret plan was to give the product away for free if people didn't want to pay for it. But, to our surprise, no one protested paying two dollar for a pour of organic half & half. Most people appreciated the fun and unique experience and wanted to learn more about how our half & half was made.”

Even though this was a trial run, Hughes and Organic Valley see the concept having some serious legs.

“As backwards as the coffee shop concept seemed, it actually worked. So we're considering opening more locations in the future.”

I guess that means we’ll be seeing an Organic Valley Coffee Shop in Portland sometime soon. We’ll warm up the hipsters for you.

Full credits:

Client: Organic Valley

Agency: Humanaut

Title: Just Add Coffee

Chief Creative Director: David Littlejohn

Chief Strategist: Andrew Clark

Copywriters: Liza Behles, Andy Pearson, Tyler Sharkey

Design Director: Stephanie Gelabert

Designer: Coleson Amon

Account Director: Elizabeth Cates

Production Company: The Bindery

Director: Eric Ryan Anderson

Executive Producer: Greg Beauchamp

DP: Josh Goleman

Producer: Bo Armstrong

Production Manager: Lee Manne

Editor: Tyler Beasley / Fancy Rhino

Post Producer: Katie Nelson / Fancy Rhino

Music: Carl Cadwell / Skypunch Studios

Store Design: Pink Sparrow Scenic

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