Is This Coffee So Good, It’s Criminal?

A new ad for Folgers’ premium brand 1850 is a far cry from “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”

The spot portrays the police force tasked with tracking down banned brew 1850 and arresting the people in possession of the contraband caffeine.

Created by Publicis Groupe’s PSOne, the company’s bespoke agency for J.M. Smucker, the ad was directed by Biscuit Filmworks’ Andreas Nilsson, who was behind Volvo’s “Epic Split” ad starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. 

While the humor doesn’t quite hit the mark, the absurdity of the premise—for example, when a knowledgable officer laughs that a perpetrator’s percolated fix isn’t even pure, but rather cut with Starbucks—still entertains. The approach also strains the nearly two-minute run time of the full-length online version, but the off-the-wall nature of the ad allows 1850 to stand out in a crowded category.

“Publicis injected breakthrough creative on 1850 coffee in a way that is completely unexpected from a coffee brand,” Liz Mayer, J.M. Smucker Company customer engagement group lead, said in a statement. “Storytelling, art and craft are all taken to an entirely new level, resulting in the perfect blend of humor and style.”

That’s particularly crucial for a young brand like 1850, which J.M. Smucker launched in 2018.

“We’re still growing awareness with the 1850 Coffee brand,” Tina Meyer-Hawkes, J.M. Smucker Company vice president, marketing for coffee, said in a statement. “I can’t imagine a more highly charged narrative to position the brand front and center in people’s minds and funny bones.”

In addition to the 60-second broadcast ad, the campaign also includes online video and social activation.

The effort comes a year after J.M. Smucker consolidated its creative and media duties with Publicis Groupe for most of its U.S. brands. Publicis Groupe created the bespoke unit PSOne to handle the client.

In a statement, PSOne executive creative director Erica Roberts called the campaign “the result of the most incredible client/agency relationship” she’s ever been a part of. She explained that five months ago, the agency had a completely different campaign for 1850, but realizing it wasn’t the breakthrough work the brand needed, the agency and client teams sat down during a different J.M. Smucker production and decided to start all over.

“It meant walking away from months of creative development and consumer testing, and that we’d only have three weeks to land on a new campaign,” she said. “It paid off.”

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