Brand in the news: Costa Coffee

Joe is Marketing Week’s agency specialist.


It was Costa Coffee – Marketing Week’s brand of the year – that dominated Whitbread’s trading update this week with chief executive Andy Harrison announcing that the coffee chain grew its total sales by 28.8% and “continues to demonstrate that it is the UK’s favourite coffee shop.”

One would dare to suggest that it is Marketing Week’s agency of the year Karmarama’s unique work that is driving this success. The agency was briefed with helping the chain to “win the High Street war by promoting active choice of their coffee.”

The resultant ads that feature those mischievous monkeys has helped to make Costa a talking point. View and comment on the Costa Coffee ad here.

Of course, the campaign wasn’t without its problems. Costa Coffee faced heavy criticism from animal charities following the release of its first TV ad and its previous print ads deriding Starbucks’ quality of coffee have faced several investigations by the Advertising Standards Authority, though each time the ASA has dismissed Starbucks’ grievances.


According to Karmarama, the secret behind the success is “its re-launch with a unifying thought: ’Saving the world from mediocre coffee’. We developed the ’We Make It Better’ brand campaign to reaffirm Costa’s coffee credentials. This prompted people to question if their usual cup of coffee is good enough by publicising the results of our taste test and proving that Costa make it better.

“The campaign ran across all customer touchpoints, from cupholders and napkins to PR, press, posters, online advertising driving to a microsite with a competition promotion, plus an internal re-launch at the staff conference. Since the re-launch the communications have over-delivered on all KPI’s, in particular helping Costa grow by over 20% (at the same time that the market is in decline).”

Elsewhere in the Whitbread results, Rainey Kelly Campbell Rolfe’s work with Lenny Henry to champion Premier Inn also seems to have helped to boost the coffers of the budget hotel chain.

Joe Fernandez

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