Folgers reintroduces itself by embracing its bad reputation
Folgers knows that many people think of it as being your grandma’s coffee – and it’s proud of that fact. In a new ad campaign launched today, the iconic coffee company leans into its New Orleanian identity and positions itself as a brand that’s for everybody, not just coffee snobs.
Like a hot cup of coffee in a mid-afternoon slump, Folgers is hoping that a fresh dose of branding will bring a burst of energy to its public image. The 172-year-old coffee brand is pushing back against the popular, unflattering image of being ‘your grandma’s coffee’ and a boring alternative to newer, zestier brands. The tagline in the new ads: ‘Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.’
The soundtrack to the new Folgers ads is Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ Bad Reputation. Even if you’ve never heard of Jett, you’ll almost certainly know the words to this particular song. It’s been used in countless films over the years, usually in scenes where the main character is doing something rebellious, or finally summoning the courage to express themselves in an authentic way.
All of which makes it the ideal soundtrack for the suite of new Folgers ads, which have clearly been designed to push back against the coffee brand’s own bad reputation. In a market that increasingly favors the prejudiced palates of hipster coffee connoisseurs, ‘artisanal’ coffee brands have flourished, while traditional staples including Folgers are perceived by some as relics of a bygone era.
In one of the new spots, a young woman is pushing a cart down an aisle of a grocery store, lovingly brushing her fingers against bright red tubs of Folgers coffee. She stops and notices that two rather snobbish-looking young people – stereotypical hipsters both – are looking at her with a mix of contempt and concern, as if she were perusing jars of pickled animal fetuses. She smiles at them deviously and pushes a comical number of Folgers tubs into her cart, then speeds down the aisle. Cue Jett singing the opening lines: “I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation!”
The new Folgers ads are also exclusively populated by working-class people, men and women who are drinking (even literally chugging) Folgers coffee in between tasks at – or on their way to – their places of work. We see a barber drinking iced coffee in between clients, and a woman sitting at a red light in her car, coffee thermos in hand, rocking out in the throes of caffeine-fueled bliss to the rebel anthem, which she turns up so that it can be heard more clearly by the all-female biker gang idling in the adjacent lane.
The ads are being launched alongside a new hashtag, which also leans into the unapologetic tone of the campaign: #DamnRightItsFolgers. The goal with that hashtag is to bring “some pride back to choosing something that’s not some snobby artisanal product – it’s just an all-American, well-crafted, high-quality product,” says Erica Roberts, chief creative officer at Publicis NY, the agency that developed the campaign.
Dialing up its New Orleans pride
Folgers is also leaning heavily into geographical and cultural identity in its new ads. ‘Unapologetically toasted [and] roasted in our hometown of New Orleans,’ reads text included in the ads. In that spirit, the campaign was designed to authentically convey the spirit of New Orleans, says Roberts. “We really did draw from all of the real, colorful patchwork of New Orleans itself ... it’s all the real deal. We got to tell the story and root it in a city that is known for its pride.”
Touting Folgers’ heritage matters, says Karen Freberg, professor of strategic communications at the University of Louisville, because “place is a part of a story ... it’s important to show where you started and where you continue to be.”
Rebranding campaigns are often necessary in order for brands to remain fresh and relevant in the minds of consumers, says Freberg. “What’s important for any kind of rebranding is you stay fundamental to the core pillars and brand values you have, but you also are recognizing we have to evolve along with the times, we have to evolve in the way that makes sense and is aligned with our core values. You have to adapt, or you’re going to become irrelevant very, very quickly.”