Bronze: Best Entertainment Sponsorship or Tie-In 2015

  • Campaign: Central Perk
  • Brand: Eight O’Clock Coffee
  • Agency: Source Marketing

Could market conditions have been any worse for Eight O’Clock Coffee? Consumers were shifting from canned and bagged coffee to single-serve k-cups. At the same time, Eight O’Clock’s competitors were offering steeper discounts and spending more on trade marketing. To caffeinate its sales, Eight O’Clock and Source Marketing took advantage of the 20th anniversary of a sitcom that had a coffeehouse as one of its major sets: Friends.

In partnership with Warner Bros., Eight O’Clock launched a limited-edition Central Perk Roast, named after the sitcom’s coffeehouse. A joint-purchase offer with the 20th anniversary Friends DVD drove traffic and raised brand awareness.

Also generating awareness was the Central Perk pop-up coffee shop in Manhattan’s hip SoHo neighborhood. For 32 days the replica of the Friends locale drew crowds of up to 2,360 people daily. Visitors sampled the Central Perk Roast and other Eight O’Clock coffees while sitting on the set’s famous orange couch, admiring props and costumes from the series, and buying Friends memorabilia and Central Perk Roast. James Michael Tyler, who played barista Gunther on the show, and The Rembrandts, who wrote and performed the theme song, attended the preopening media day and VIP party as well as the closing party for affiliates who had won the chance to attend in exchange for promoting the campaign. On another occasion, Grammy winner Colbie Caillat showed up to perform “Smelly Cat,” a song written by Friends character Phoebe, as well as her own hit “Try.” And to celebrate National Coffee Day, Central Perk—oops, Eight O’Clock—featured a performance by The Voice finalists The Swon Brothers and a heat-activated instant-win game on coffee cups.

The campaign generated more than 1.6 billion earned media impressions, which included Twitter and Instagram shares of more than 27,000 selfies taken on the orange couch. The pop-up shop served more than 40,000 cups of coffee to more than 58,000 visitors and sold nearly 6,000 bags of coffee to go. Sales of Eight O’Clock bagged coffee overall climbed 21%, while sales of ground coffee increased more than 28%. One unexpected perk: The pop-up played host to four wedding proposals!