Bronze: Best Sampling or Trial Recruitment Campaign 2015

  • Campaign: Illy Issimo Espresso Bar Tour
  • Brand: Illy Issimo
  • Agency: Escalate

Single-serve iced coffee brand Illy Issimo prides itself on offering an authentic Italian coffee experience to young adults whose on-the-go lifestyles make it difficult for them to find time to brew and chill their own espresso or cappuccino. The brand felt that lack of time shouldn’t preclude drinkers from savoring the scent of fresh-brewed coffee, however, nor the overall espresso bar experience. So working with agency Escalate, it brought a mobile espresso bar—a Mercedes-Benz van equipped with espresso machines, baristas, and a music system playing Italian music—to high-traffic commuter locations, college campuses, and special events in 12 markets across the country.

If the bold red-and-white van didn’t attract attention, the rich aroma of the brewing coffee and the joyful sound of the music certainly did. The fresh-brewed scent reinforced the authenticity and quality of the iced beverages by reassuring consumers that they were made with the same high-quality beans as Illy’s hot drinks. Illy Issimo updated the map of the van’s whereabouts on its Facebook page, posted the schedule on Twitter, and geo-tagged photos on Instagram. It posted videos of the van in action as well, which were complemented by postings on multiple social media from many of the consumers who happily accepted a sample of Illy Issimo.

The brand had hoped to distribute 640,000 samples. It ended giving away more than 657,000 at 322 events. The campaign generated more than 22.6 million impressions, with 59% of participants telling an average of 2.5 friends about the event. Past-four-week consumption of Illy Issimo rose 39 percentage points higher than for the control group, and past-four-week purchases climbed 28 percentage points. Those are results worth savoring, whether it’s over a hot cappuccino or a cool latte macchioto.