Early coffee advertising—The first coffee advertisement in 1587 was frank propaganda for the legitimate use of coffee—The first printed advertisement in English—The first newspaper advertisement—Early advertisements in colonial America—Evolution of advertising—Package coffee advertising—Advertising to the trade—Advertising by means of newspapers, magazines, billboards, electric signs, motion pictures, demonstrations, and by samples—Advertising for retailers—Advertising by government propaganda—The Joint Coffee Trade publicity campaign in the United States—Coffee advertising efficiency
In a work of this character the chapter on advertising must of necessity be in story form. It may tell what has been accomplished in advertising coffee, and perhaps point the way to greater achievement. In so far as possible, the story is supplemented by illustrations, which here tell the story even better than words.
Advertising to the trade or the consumer calls for expert advice. There are successful trade journalists who are competent to supply such advertising counsel; and new-comers in the field should consult them first. These men are in the best position to suggest the means for successful accomplishment. They know the men who are best qualified to render assistance for all media, and are glad to recommend those who can be most helpful.
Jarvis A. Wood has said that advertising is causing another to know, to remember, and to do. If we agree with this excellent definition, then the first coffee advertisers were the early physicians and writers who told their fellows something about the berry and the beverage made from it.
Rhazes and Avicenna told the story in Latin, and appear to have recommended a coffee decoction as a stomachic, as far back as the tenth century. Many other early physicians refer to it. Thus it was that coffee was solemnly introduced to the consumer as a medicine. The first step made by the berry from the cabinets of the curious, where it was known as an exotic seed, was into the apothecaries' shops, where it was sold and advertised as a drug. Next, the coffee drink was advertised and sold by lemonade venders; then by the proprietors of the coffee houses and cafés; and finally the coffee merchant sold and advertised the green and roasted bean.
Rauwolf told the Germans about it in 1582; Abd-al-Kâdir wrote his famous Argument in favor of the legitimate use of coffee in Arabic about 1587; Alpini carried the news to Italy in 1592; English travelers wrote about the beverage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; French Orientalists described it about the same time; and America learned about it long before the green beans were offered for sale in Boston in 1670.
Because of its frank propaganda character, Abd-al-Kâdir's manuscript may rightly be called the earliest advertisement for coffee. The author was a lawyer-theologian, a follower of Mahomet, and as such was eager to convince his contemporaries[Pg 432] that coffee drinking was not incompatible with the prophet's law.
Soon the news of the day became the advertising of the morrow. In 1652 appeared the first printed advertisement for coffee in English. It was in the form of a shop-bill, or handbill, issued by Pasqua Rosée from the first London coffee house in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill; and the original is preserved in the British Museum.
It is pictured on page 55, chapter X, and is worthy of close examination. It reads:
The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink
First publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosée.
The Grain or Berry called Coffee, groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia.
It is brought from thence, and drunk generally throughout all the Grand Seigniors Dominions.
It is a simple innocent thing, composed into a Drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, fasting an hour before, and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured; the which will never fetch the skin off the mouth, or raise any Blisters, by reason of that Heat.
The Turks drink at meals and other times, is usually Water, and their Dyet consists much of Fruit, the Crudities whereof are very much corrected by this Drink.
The quality of this Drink is cold and Dry; and though it be a Dryer, yet It neither heats, nor inflames more then hot Posset.
It so closeth the Orifice of the Stomack, and fortifies the heat within, that it's very good to help digestion, and therefore of great use to be taken about 3 or 4 a Clock afternoon, as well as in the morning.
It much quickens the Spirits, and makes the Heart Lightsome. It is good against sore Eys, and the better if you hold your Head over it, and take in the Steem that way.
It suppresseth Fumes exceedingly, and therefore good against the Head-ach, and will very much stop any Defluxion of Rheums, that distil from the Head upon the Stomack, and so prevent and help Consumptions; and the Cough of the Lungs.
It is excellent to prevent and cure the Dropsy, Gout, and Scurvy.
It is known by experience to be better than any other Drying Drink for People in years, or Children that have any running humors upon them, as the Kings Evil,&c.
It is very good to prevent Mis-carryings in Child-bearing Women.
It is a most excellent Remedy against the Spleen, Hypocondriack Winds, or the like.
It will prevent Drowsiness, and make one fit for business, if one have occasion to Watch; and therefore you are not to Drink of it after Supper, unless you intend to be watchful, for it will hinder sleep for 3 or 4 hours.
It is observed that in Turkey, where this is generally drunk, that they are not trobled with the Stone, Gout, Dropsie, or Scurvey, and that their Skins are exceedingly cleer and white.
It is neither Laxative nor Restringent.
Made and sold in St. Michaels Alley in Cornhill, by Pasqua Rosée, at the Signe of his own Head.
The noteworthy thing about this advertisement is, that in comparison with the best copy of today, it has high merit. For this early advertisement seems to have embodied in it superbly well those qualifications which modern advertising experts agree are essential requirements for success—measured in terms of sales to the consumer. We shall return to it later.
The first newspaper advertisement for coffee appeared in the form of a "reader" in the issue of The Publick Adviser, London, for the week of Tuesday, May 19, to Tuesday, May 26, 1657. The Publick Adviser was a weekly pamphlet partaking of the nature of a commercial news-letter. The advertisement was sandwiched between a reader advertising a doctor of physick and one for an "artificer," the latter being a ladies' hair-dresser. It was as follows:
In Bartholomew Lane on the back side of the Old Exchange, the drink called Coffee, (which is a very wholesom and Physical drink, having many excellent vertues, closes the Orifice of the Stomack, fortifies the heat within, helpeth Digestion, quickneth the Spirits, maketh the heart lightsom, is good against Eye-sores, Coughs, or Colds, Rhumes, Consumptions, Head-ach, Dropsie, Gout, Scurvy, Kings Evil, and many others is to be sold both in the morning, and at three of the clock in the afternoon.)
About the time that Pascal opened the first coffee house in Paris in 1672, the Paris shop-keepers began to advertise coffee by broadsides. A good example is the following, the text of which closely resembles the original by Pasqua Rosée:
The most excellent Virtue of the Berry called Coffee.
Coffee is a Berry which only grows in the desert of Arabia, from whence it is transported into all the Dominions of the Grand Seigniour, which being drunk dries up all the cold and moist humours, disperses the wind, fortifies the Liver, eases the dropsie by its purifying quality, 'tis a Sovereign medicine against the itch, and corruptions of the blood, refreshes the heart, and the vital beating thereof, it relieves those[Pg 433] that have pains in their Stomach, and cannot eat; It is good also against the indispositions of the brain, cold, moist, and heavy, the steam which rises out of it is good against the Rheums of the eyes, and drumming in the ears: 'Tis excellent also against the shortness of the breath, against Rheums which trouble the Liver, and the pains of the Spleen; It is an extraordinary ease against the Worms: After having eat or drunk too much: Nothing is better for those that eat much Fruit.
The daily use hereof in a little while will manifest the aforesaid effect to those, that being indisposed shall use it from time to time.
The following are typical London trade advertisements of 1662 and 1663. The first is from the Kingdom's Intelligencer of June 5, 1662, and reads as follows:
At the Exchange Ally from Cornhill into Lumber Street neer the Conduit, at the Musick-Room belonging to the Palsgrave's Hall, is sold by retayle the right coffee powder; likewise that termed the Turkey Berry, well cleansed at 30d. per pound ... the East India berry (so called) of the best sorts at 20d. per pound, of which at present in divers places there is very bad, which the ignorant for cheapness do buy, and is the chief cause of the now bad coffee drunk in many plaies (sic).
The Intelligencer for December 21, 1663, contained the following advertisement:
There is a Parcel of Coffee-Berry to be put to publique sale upon Wednesday, the 23, instant, at 6 a clock in the evening at the Globe Coffee-house at the end of St. Bartholomew Lane, over against the North Gate of the Royall Exchange.... And if any desire to be further informed they may repair to Mr. Brigg, Publique Notary at the said Globe Coffee-house.
Dufour's treatise on The Manner of Making Coffee, Tea and Chocolate, published in Lyons, 1684, was generally regarded as propaganda for the beverage; and, indeed, it proved an excellent advertisement, being quickly translated into English and several other languages.
In 1691 we find advertised in the Livre Commode of Paris a portable coffee-making outfit to fit the pocket.
The first coffee periodical, The New and Curious Coffee House, was issued at Leipzig by Theophilo Georgi in 1707, being a kind of house organ for what was, perhaps, the first kaffee-klatsch; the publisher-proprietor, however, admitted that the idea of making his coffee salon a resort for the literati was obtained from Italy.
In chapter X we have described a number of broadsides, handbills, and pamphlets having to do with the introduction of the coffee drink into London between 1652 and 1675. The advertising student would do well to refer to them because they serve to show how completely the true merits of the beverage were lost sight of by those who urged its more fantastic claims. It is interesting to note, however, that this early copy was of a high order of typographical excellence; indeed, the display letter used for the word coffee is often like that found in copy in the United States two hundred and fifty years after. Also, it should be noted that "apt 'illustration's' artful aid" was first employed in 1674. Again, note this curious contrast. Two hundred and sixty-nine years ago all the resources of advertising were being laid under contribution to make propaganda for coffee as the great cure for many ailments of which nowadays the enemies of coffee would have us believe coffee is the cause! Those who have possessed themselves of the facts about coffee know that both arguments are equally fantastic.
Coffee was mentioned in shop-keepers' announcements appearing in the Boston News Letter as early as 1714, and in other newspapers of the colonies during the eighteenth century, usually being offered for sale at retail with strange companions. In 1748 "tea, coffee, indigo, nutmegs, sugar, etc.," were advertised for sale at a shop in Dock Square, Boston. The following[Pg 434] advertisement from the Columbian Centinel, Boston, April 26, 1794, is typical:
GROCERIES AT NO. 44 CORNHILL
Norton and Holyoke
Respectfully inform their friends and the publick, that they have for sale, at their Shop, No. 44 Cornhill, formerly the Post-Office.
A GENERAL ASSORTMENT OF GROCERIES
among which are the following articles: Teas, Spices, Coffee, Cotton, Indigo, Starch, Chocolate, Raisins, Figs, Almonds, and Olives; West India Rum, best French Brandy, excellent Cherry Wine, pure as imported, etc., etc., all which they will sell as low as any store in Boston.
Any article not liked will be taken again, and the money returned.
It appears that the first advertisement dealing with coffee alone was published in the New York Daily Advertiser for February 9, 1790; and this was primarily an advertisement of a wholesale coffee roasting factory rather than an advertisement of coffee per se.
This advertisement, and a later one published in Loudon's New York Packet for January 1, 1791, also of a coffee manufactory, are reproduced herewith.
Not until package coffee began to come into vogue in the sixties was there any change in the stereotyped business-card form followed by all dealers in coffee. And even then the monotony was varied only by inserting the brand name, such as "Osborn's Celebrated Prepared Java Coffee. Put up only by Lewis A. Osborn"; "Government coffee in tin foil pound papers put out by Taber & Place's Rubia Mills."
Evolution of Coffee Advertising
Real progress in coffee advertising, as in publicity for other lines of trade and industry, began in the United States. Here too, it has been brought to its lowest degradation and to its highest efficiency. The entire process has taken something less than fifty years.
The first step forward was the picture handbill. The handbill, or dodger, had been common enough in England and on the Continent, where, for upward of two hundred years it had served as an advertising medium, in company with the more robust broadside, and in competition with the pamphlet and newspaper. It remained for America, however, to glorify the handbill by means of colored pictures; and one of the earliest and best specimens of the[Pg 435] picture handbill is the Arbuckle circular here illustrated.
Soon the handbill copy began to appear in the newspapers, but mostly without the illustrations. Later newspaper developments were to introduce more of the picture element, decorative border, and design. The ideas of European artists were freely drawn upon, but put to so utilitarian uses that their originators would scarce have recognized them.
In the Ladies Home Journal for December, 1888, the Great London Tea Company, Boston, an early mail-order house, advertised, "We have made a specialty since 1877 of giving premiums to those who buy tea and coffee in large quantities." In the same issue, there was an advertisement of Seal Brand and Crusade Brand coffee by Chase & Sanborn, Boston. Dilworth Bros., Pittsburgh, were also among the early users of magazine space.
The menace of the cereal coffee-substitute evil had grown to such proportions at the beginning of the twentieth century, that the coffee men began to be concerned about it. Misleading and untruthful "substitute" copy was freely accepted by nearly all media. The package labels were as bad, if not worse. With the advent of the pure food law of 1906, the cereal label abuse was reformed; but not until the "truth in advertising" movement became a power to be reckoned with, nearly ten years later, were the coffee men granted a substantial measure of protection in the magazines and newspapers. Meanwhile, many coffee men, lacking organization and a knowledge of the facts about coffee, unwittingly played into the hands of the substitute-fakers by publishing unfortunate defensive copy which made confusion worse confounded in the consumer's mind.
At one time there were nearly one hundred coffee-substitute concerns engaged in a bitter, untruthful campaign directed against coffee. The most conspicuous offender employed the principle of auto-suggestion and found a goodly number of pseudo-physicians and bright advertising minds that were quite willing to prostitute their finest talents to aid him in attacking an honorable business.
In one year $1,765,000 was spent in traducing the national beverage. The burden of the cereal-faker's song was that coffee was the cause of all the ills that flesh is heir to, and that by stopping its use for ten days and substituting his panacea, these ills would vanish.
Of course, there were many people (but they were the minority) who knew that the caffein content of coffee was a pure, safe stimulant that did not destroy the nerve cells like such false stimulants as alcohol, morphine, etc.; and that while too much could be ingested from abuse of any beverage containing it, nature always effected a cure when the abuse was stopped.
However, there was undoubtedly created in the public mind a suspicion, that threatened to develop into a prejudice, and that affected otherwise sane and normal people, that perhaps coffee was not good for them.
Then came the winter of the coffee men's discontent. Floundering about in a veritable slough of cereal slush, without secure foothold or a true sense of direction, coffee advertising went miserably astray when its writers began to assure the public that their brands were guiltless of the crimes charged in the cereal men's indictment. In this, of course, they unwittingly aided and abetted the cereal fakers. For example, one roaster-packer advertised, "The harmful ingredient in coffee is the tannin-bearing chaff, which our roasting and grinding process completely removes." Scientific research has since proved the fallacy of this idea.
Another roaster said, "if coffee works havoc with your nerves and digestion, it is because you are not using a fresh roasted, thoroughly cleaned, correctly cured coffee. Our method of preparing gives you the strength and aroma without its nerve-destroying qualities." A well known coffee packer advertised, "Our coffee is free from the dust and bitter tannin—the only injurious property in coffee." Still another packer informed the consumer that "by a very special steel cutting process" he sliced the coffee beans "so that the little cells containing the volatile oil (the food product) are not broken."
A prominent Chicago packer put out a new brand of coffee which he claimed was "non-intoxicating," "poisonless," and the "only pure coffee." A New Yorker, not to be out-done, brought out a coffee that he said contained all the stimulative properties of the original coffee berries, but with every trace of acid removed, every undesirable element eliminated. "Also," he added for good measure, "this coffee may be used freely without harming the digestive organs or impairing the nervous system."
And one package-coffee man became so exercised over cereal competition that he brought out a grain "coffee" of his own, which he actually advertised as "the nearest approach to coffee ever put on the market, having all the merits without any objectionable features, strengthening without stimulating, satisfying without shattering the nerves."
And so history again repeated itself in America. Five hundred years after the first religious persecution of the drink in Arabia, we find it being persecuted by commercial zealots in the United States. And even in the house of its friends, coffee was being stabbed in the back. The coffee merchants themselves presented the spectacle of "knocking" it by inference and innuendo.
Something had to be done. As cereal drinks, standing on their own feet, the coffee "substitutes" would have attracted little notice. It was only by trading on the allegation that they were substitutes for coffee that they made any headway. The original offender sold his product as "coffee," which was an untruth, as he later admitted there was not a bean of coffee in it. He boldly advertised: "Blank coffee for persons who can't digest ordinary coffee."
When it became no longer possible to perpetrate an untruth on the package label, there still remained the newspapers and billboards. For years before fake-advertising laws and an outraged public opinion made recourse to these no longer possible, it was a common practise to use the newspapers and billboards to promote the idea that here was a different coffee; and in this way to create a demand for a package, which, when purchased, was found to tell a different story.
As late as 1911, one of our most respected New York dailies was carrying an advertisement calling the product "coffee," although[Pg 439] fairness demands it be recorded that the coffee part of the announcement was stricken out when The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal called the attention of the publisher to its misleading character. This trade paper, from its start, had been urging the coffee men to organize for defense. The agitation bore fruit at last, first in the starting of the National Coffee Roasters Association, and later in the inception of the movement that resulted in the international advertising campaign for coffee now in progress in the United States.
Meanwhile, the cereal coffee-substitute had been thoroughly discredited by governmental analysis, although even today newspaper publishers are to be found here and there who are willing to "take a chance" with public opinion and who will admit to their advertising columns such misleading statements for the substitute, as "it has a coffee-like flavor."
In the United States today, coffee advertising has reached a high plane of copy excellence. Our coffee advertisers lead all nations. The educational work started by The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, fostered by the National Coffee Roasters Association, and developed by the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee, has laid low many of the bugaboos raised by the cereal sinners. The coffee men, however, have left considerable room for improvement. There are still some who are given to making exaggerated claims in their publicity, who make reflections upon competitors in a way to destroy public confidence in coffee, and who display an ignorance of, or a lack of confidence in, their product by continuing to claim that their brands do not contain what they assert are injurious or worthless constituents. It is to be hoped that in time these abuses will yield to the further enlightening influence of the trade press, and of the organizations that are continually working for trade betterment.
Before the international coffee campaign started in 1919, the National Coffee Roasters Association promoted two national coffee weeks, one in 1914 and another in 1915, wherein excellent groundwork was done for the big joint coffee trade propaganda that followed. Some original research also was done along lines of proper grinding and correct coffee brewing. A better-coffee-making committee, under the direction of Edward Aborn of New York, rendered yeoman's service to the cause. Much educational work was done in schools and colleges, among newspaper editors, and in the trade. This campaign was the first co-operative publicity for coffee. Among other things, it put a nation-wide emphasis on iced coffee as a delectable summer drink and, for the first time, stressed the correct making of the beverage by drip and filtration[Pg 440] methods instead of by boiling, which had long been one of the most crying evils of the business.
Package Coffee Advertising
Coffee advertising began to take on a distinctive character with the introduction of Ariosa by John Arbuckle in 1873. Some of the early publicity for this pioneer package coffee appears typographically crude, judged by modern standards; but the copy itself has all the needful punch, and many of the arguments are just as applicable today as they were a half-century ago. Take the handbill copy illustrated. It was done in three colors, and the argument was new and most convincing. The reverse side copy is also extremely effective. Note the expert-roaster argument and coffee-making directions; some of these may still be found in current coffee advertising.
Most of the original Arbuckle advertising was by means of circulars or broadsides, although some newspaper space was employed. Premiums were first used by John Arbuckle as an advertising sales adjunct, and they proved a big factor in putting Ariosa on the map. Mr. Arbuckle created the kind of word-of-mouth publicity for his goods that is the most difficult achievement in the business of advertising. It caused so deep and lasting an impression, that in some sections it has persisted through at least five decades. The advertising moral is: Get people to talk your brand.
Since the death of its founder, the Arbuckle copy has been changed to fit modern conditions. That it has kept pace with all the forward movements in business and advertising is evident from the specimens which help to illustrate this chapter. A significant change is to be noted in the fact that, for the first time in its history, "the greatest coffee business in the world" has adopted a policy of advertising to the trade as well as to the consumer, thus giving its publicity a well rounded character which it formerly lacked.
The evolution of other notable package coffees is also shown by illustration. Several concerns blazed new trails that have since been picked up and followed by competing brands.
Among the many long-established advertised package-coffee successes may be mentioned:
Arbuckle's Yuban and Ariosa; McLaughlin's XXXX; Chase & Sanborn's Seal Brand; Dwinell-Wright's White House; Weir's Red Ribbon; B. Fischer & Company's Hotel Astor; Brownell & Field's Autocrat; Bour's Old Master; Scull's Boscul; Seeman Brothers' White Rose; Blanke's Faust; Baker's Barrington Hall; Woolson Spice Company's Golden Sun; International Coffee Company's Old Homestead; Kroneberger's Old Reserve; Western Grocer Company's Chocolate Cream; Leggett's Nabob; Clossett & Dever's Golden West; R.C. Williams' Royal Scarlet; Merchants Coffee Company's Alameda; Widlar Company's C.W. brand; Meyer Bros.' Old Judge; Nash-Smith Tea and Coffee Company's Wedding Breakfast; J.A. Folger & Company's Golden Gate; Ennis Hanley Blackburn Coffee Company's Golden Wedding; M.J. Brandenstein & Company's M.J.B.; Hills Brothers' Red Can, the Young & Griffin Coffee Company's Franco-American, and the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company's Maxwell House.
It was estimated that the amount of money spent by the larger coffee roasters upon all forms of publicity in the United States in 1920 was about $3,000,000.
Charts prepared by Charles Coolidge Parlin of the division of commercial research of the Curtis Publishing Company, and checked by the Publishers' Information Bureau, show the advertising for coffee and for coffee substitutes in thirty leading publications from 1911 to 1920; and compare the advertising for coffee and coffee substitutes in 1920 with a chart of per capita consumption. It should be noted that the figures exclude all other forms of advertising, such as newspapers, bill-posting, street-car signs, electric signs, and so forth.
Experience has proven that a package coffee, to be successful, must have back of it expert knowledge on buying, blending, roasting, and packing, as well as an efficient sales force. These things are essential: (1) a quality product; (2) a good[Pg 442] trade-mark name and label; (3) an efficient package. With these, an intelligently planned and carefully executed advertising and sales campaign will spell success. Such a campaign comprehends advertising directed to the dealer and to the consumer. It may include all the approved forms of publicity, such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, electric signs, motion pictures, demonstrations, and samples. One phase of trade advertising which should not be overlooked is dealer helps. The extent to which the roaster-packer, or the promoter of a new package coffee, should utilize the various advertising media or go into dealer helps must, of course, depend upon the size of the advertising appropriation.
Many roaster-packers supply grocers handling their coffee with dealer helps in the shape of weather-proof metal signs for outside display, display racks, store and window display signs, cut-outs, blotters, consumer booklets, newspaper electros, stereopticon slides, moving pictures, demonstrations, samples, etc. Dealer selling schemes based on points have also been found helpful in promoting sales.
Advertising to the Trade
Until a comparatively recent date, the green coffee importer, selling the roasting trade, has not realized the need of advertising. He has inclined to the belief that he did not need to advertise, because, in most instances, green coffee is not sold by the mark; and, to a certain extent, price has been the determining factor.
During late years, however, many green coffee firms have come to realize that there is a good-will element that enters into the equation which can be fostered by the intelligent use of advertising space in the coffee roaster's trade journal. Also, a few importers are now featuring trade marks in their advertising, thus building up a tangible trade-mark asset in addition to good will.
For a number of years the green coffee trade used the business card type of advertisement; but some are now utilizing a more up-to-date style of copy, as typified by the advertisements of Leon Israel & Brothers and W.R. Grace & Company. Specimens of other green coffee advertising of the better kind are here reproduced.
Advertising campaigns in behalf of package coffees can not be fully effective without the proper use of trade publications. Advertising in the dealer's paper has many advantages. It is good missionary work for the salesman. It creates confidence in the mind of the dealer. It is an excellent means for demonstrating to the retailer that he is being considered in the scheme of distribution—that no attempt is being made to force the goods upon him through consumer advertising alone. Trade-paper advertising also offers the packer the opportunity to acquaint the dealer with the selling points in favor of the brand advertised, thus saving the time of the salesman. An increasing number of coffee packers are now using the advertising columns of trade papers, and some typical advertisements are reproduced herewith.
Advertising by Various Mediums
Billboard and other outdoor advertising, also car cards, are being used to a considerable extent for coffee publicity. Painted outdoor signs have been the back-bone[Pg 443] of one middle-west roaster's campaign for a number of years. Both car cards and billboards are growing in popularity because they enable the coffee packer to reproduce his package in its natural colors and permit also of striking displays. Such firms as Arbuckle Brothers, New York; Dayton Spice Mills, Dayton, Ohio; W.F. MCLaughlin & Company, Chicago; the Puhl-Webb Company, Chicago; the Bour Company, Toledo; B. Fischer & Company, New York; and the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, Nashville and New York, are consistent users of this character of advertising. Electric signs also have proved effective for coffee advertising. Reproductions of some characteristic outdoor and car-card advertisements are to be found in these pages.
Motion pictures are a comparatively new development in coffee advertising. One of the first coffee roasters to adopt this plan of publicity was S.H. Holstad & Company, Minneapolis. The film used depicted the cultivation and preparation of coffee for the market, also the complete roasting and packaging operations. The A.J. Deer Company, manufacturers of coffee mills and roasters, Hornell, N.Y., was another pioneer in the use of coffee films. Jabez Burns & Sons, coffee-machinery manufacturers, followed with an educational coffee picture. The National Packaging Machinery Company, of Boston, is another concern that has utilized films for advertising purposes, showing its machines in operation in a coffee-packing plant. Many roasters made use of the coffee film produced by the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee.
In using advertising films, it is customary for the roaster to arrange for a showing at one or more theaters. The advertising in the local papers features the coffee brands, also the name of the local dealer, the latter being furnished with tickets which he distributes among his retail customers. There are several concerns making a business of supplying commercial films and of getting distribution for them.
Another form of theater publicity is that of the advertising slide—stereopticon views thrown upon the screen between feature pictures. Many packers find these are effective for cultivating the dealer, it being customary to show the brand name, together with that of the local distributer.
Advertising for Retailers
When retailers analyze the people to whom they sell coffee, they usually find three types. First, there is the woman who thinks she is an expert judge of coffee, but who is unable to find anything to suit her cultivated taste. Then there is the new housewife, possibly a bride of a few months, who knows very little about coffee, but wants to find a good blend that both she and her husband will like. The third is the most acceptable class, the satisfied people who have found coffee that delights them, day after day.
W. Harry Longe, a Texas retailer, has prepared the following "ready made" copy appeals for the three classes. To "Mrs. Know-it-all-about-Coffee," this style has been found effective:
IMPROVE THE COFFEE AND YOU IMPROVE THE MEAL
The corner of the table that holds the coffee urn is the balancing point of your dinner. If the coffee is a "little off" for some reason or other—probably it's the coffee's own fault—things don't seem as good as they might; but when it is "up to taste" the meal is a pleasure from start to finish. If the "balancing point" is giving you trouble, let Any Blend Coffee properly regulate it for you. 35 cents, three pounds for $1.
ANY TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
For the good lady who is anxious to find a suitable blend of coffee, and who desires information, this is a good appeal:
A SUCCESSFUL SELECTION
Of the coffee that goes into the every-morning cup will arrive on the day when Any Blend is first purchased. Many homes have been without such a success now for a long time, but, of course, they didn't know of Any Blend—and even now it is hard to really know Any Blend till you try it. That is why we seem to insist that you ask for an introduction by ordering a pound.
ANY BLEND TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
Taking both classes and dealing with them alike:
"BLENDED TO BALANCE"
Is a good descriptive phrase of Any Blend coffee, for care is taken in the preparation that the strength does not overpower the flavor. The aim of the blender is to get an acceptable and delightful drinking quality. He has been more than successful, as you will see when you try Any Blend, 35 cents, three pounds for $1.
ANY TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
The satisfied class, of course, is not averse to making a change, and it is well, occasionally, for the dealer to let his own satisfied customers know he still believes in his goods. The argument might take this form:
A SERVICE THAT SAVES
Is the serving of Any Blend, when coffee is desired. Any Blend saves many things. It saves worry, for it is always uniform in flavor and strength. It saves time, for when you order Any Blend we grind it just as fine or just as coarse as your percolator or pot demands. Any Blend also saves expense, because there is no waste, as you know just how much to use, every time, to make a certain number of cups. 35 cents, three pounds for $1.
ANY TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
Again, possible new customers may listen to this appeal:
TO PROVE YOUR APPROVAL
Of Any Blend coffee, you are asked to try just one pound. We know you will like it, for it is blended and roasted and ground as an exceptional coffee should be, with the care that a good coffee demands. Prove to yourself that you approve of this method of preparing coffee. 35 cents, three pounds for $1.
ANY TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
In some households the cook is permitted to do the ordering, and usually the cook does not read the daily papers with an eye for coffee ads. To reach this individual through her mistress:
CAN YOU NAME YOUR COFFEE?
Or is it one of those many unknown brands that comes from the store at the order of your cook? Let the cook do the ordering, for you are lucky if you have one you can rely upon, but tell her you prefer Any Blend to the No-Name Blend you may now be using. Any Blend has one distinct advantage over all others; It Is freshly roasted. Tell the kitchen-lady, now, to order Any Blend.
ANY TEA & COFFEE COMPANY
Advertising by Government Propaganda
Advertising coffee by government propaganda has been indulged in with more or less success by the British government in behalf of certain of its colonial possessions; by the French and the Dutch; by Porto Rico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Brazil. The markets most cultivated have been Italy, France, England, Russia, Japan, and the United States.
Great Britain began the development of coffee cultivation in its colonies in 1730. Parliament first reduced the inland duties. In many ways it has since sought to encourage British-grown coffee, building up a favoritism for it that is still reflected in Mincing Lane quotations. The Netherlands government did the same thing for Java and Sumatra; and France rendered a similar service to her own colonies.
Since Porto Rico became a part of the United States, several attempts have been made by the island government and the planters to popularize Porto Rico coffee in the United States. Scott Truxtun opened a government agency in New York in 1905. Acting upon the counsel and advice of the author, he prosecuted for several years a vigorous campaign in behalf of the Porto[Pg 445] Rico Planters' Protective Association. The method followed for coffee was to appoint official brokers, and to certify the genuineness of the product. Owing to insufficient funds and the number of different products for which publicity was sought, the coffee campaign was only moderately successful.
Mortimer Remington, formerly with the J. Walter Thompson Company, a New York advertising agency, was appointed in 1912 commercial agent for the Porto Rico Association, composed of island producers and merchants. Some effective advertising in behalf of Porto Rico coffee was done in the metropolitan district, where a number of high-class grocers were prevailed upon to stock the product, which was packed under seal of the association. As before, however, the other products handled—including cigars, grape-fruit, pineapples, etc.—handicapped the work on coffee, and the enterprise was abandoned. Subsequent efforts by the Washington government to assist the Porto Ricans in evolving a practical plan to extend their coffee market in the United States came to naught because of too much "politics."
Beginning with the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, the government of Guatemala started a propaganda for its coffee in the United States; as the European market, which had up till then absorbed seventy-five percent of its product, was closed to it, owing to the World War. E.H. O'Brien, a coffee broker of San Francisco, directed the publicity. Some full pages were used in newspapers, but the main efforts were directed at the coffee-roasting trade. The campaign, so far as it went, was highly successful.
Costa Rica also gave special encouragement to coffee-trade interests that offered to expand the United States market for Costa Rica coffee during the World War.
For many years Colombia has been talking of making propaganda here for its coffee, but thus far nothing of a constructive character has been done.
São Paulo began in 1908 to make propaganda for its coffee by subsidizing companies and individuals in consuming countries to promote consumption of the Brazil product. A contract was entered into between the state of São Paulo and the coffee firms of E. Johnston & Company and Joseph Travers & Son, of London, to exploit Brazil coffee in the United Kingdom. Similar contracts were made with coffee firms in other European countries, notably in Italy and France. The subsidies were for five years and took the form of cash and coffee. The English company was known as the "State of São Paulo (Brazil) Pure Coffee Company, Ltd." Fifty thousand pounds sterling was granted this enterprise, which roasted and packed a brand known as "Fazenda;" promoted demonstrations at grocers' expositions; and advertised in somewhat limited fashion. The general effect upon the consumption of coffee in England was negligible, however, although at one time some five thousand grocers were said to have stocked the Fazenda brand. A feature of this propaganda was the use of the Tricolator (an American device since better known in the United States) to insure correct making of the beverage, Brazil also made propaganda for its coffee in Japan, in 1915, as part of certain undertakings involving the immigration of Japanese laborers to Brazil.
The Comité Français du Café was formed in Paris in July, 1921, to co-operate with Brazil in an enterprise designed to increase the consumption of coffee in France.
The chief fault in most of the coffee propagandas here and abroad has been the doubtful practise of subsidizing particular coffee concerns instead of spending the funds in a manner designed to distribute the benefits among the trade as a whole. This mistake, and local politics in the producing countries, have made for ultimate failure. A notable exception is the latest propaganda for Brazil coffee in the United States, where all the various interests, the the São Paulo government, the growers, exporters, importers, roasters, jobbers, and dealers, have co-operated in a plan of campaign to advertise coffee per se, and not to secure special privilege to any individual, house, or group.
Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Campaign
Twenty years ago the author began an agitation for co-operative advertising, by the coffee trade. He suggested as a slogan, "Tell the truth about coffee;" and it is gratifying to find that many of his original ideas have been embodied in the present joint coffee trade publicity campaign, now in its fourth year.
The coffee roasters at first were slow to respond to the co-operative advertising suggestion, because in those days competition was more unenlightened than now, and therefore more ruthless. It needed organization to bring the trade to a better understanding of the benefits certain to be shared by all when their individual interests were pooled in a common cause. Leaders of the best thought in the trade, however, were quick to realize that only by united effort was it possible to achieve real progress; and when it was suggested that the first step was to organize the roasting trade, the idea took so firm a hold that it only needed some one to start it to bring together in one combination the keenest minds in the business.
The coffee roasters organized their national association in 1911. The author of this work urged that co-operative advertising based upon scientific research should be done by the roasters themselves independently of the growers; but it was found impracticable to unite diverging interests on such an issue, and so the leaders of the movement bent all their energies toward promoting a campaign that would be backed jointly by growers and distributers, since both would receive equal benefit from any resulting increase in consumption. Brazil, the source of nearly three-quarters of the world's coffee, was the logical ally; and an appeal was made to the planters of that country. A party of ten leading United States roasters and importers visited Brazil in 1912 at the invitation of the federal government.
In Brazil, as in the United States, progress resulted from organization. The planters of the state of São Paulo, who produce more than one-half of all coffee used in the United States, were the first to appreciate the propaganda idea. After their attempts to interest the national government failed, the São Paulo coffee men founded the Sociedade Promotora da Defesa do café (Society to Promote the Defense of Coffee), and persuaded their state legislature to pass a law taxing every bag of coffee shipped from the plantations of that state in a period of four years. This tax, amounting to one hundred reis per bag of 132 pounds, or about two and one-half cents United States money at even exchange rates, is collected by the railroads from the shippers, and turned over to the Sociedade.
The Brazilian Society sent to the United States a special envoy, Theodore Langgaard de Menezes, to conclude arrangements; and on March 4, 1918, in New York, the pact was signed whereby São Paulo was to contribute to the publicity campaign in the United States approximately $960,000 at the rate of $240,000 a year for four years; and the members of the trade in the United States were to contribute altogether $150,000. The success of the negotiations was due to the skilful management of Ross W. Weir in the United States, and to the superior salesmanship of Louis R. Gray, the Arbuckle representative in Brazil.
Supervision of the advertising in the United States was delegated to five men, representing both the importing and roasting branches of the trade, and designated as the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States. Three of these committeemen, Ross W. Weir, of New York; F.J. Ach, of Dayton, Ohio; and George S. Wright, of Boston, are roasters; and two, William Bayne, Jr., and C.H. Stoffregen, both of New York, are importers and jobbers, or green-coffee men. The committee organized with Mr. Weir as chairman, Mr. Wright as treasurer, and Mr. Stoffregen as secretary. At the invitation of the committee, C.W. Brand of Cleveland, then president of the National Coffee Roasters Association, attended committee meetings, and assisted in determining the policies of the campaign. Headquarters were established at 74 Wall Street, in the heart of the New York coffee district, with Felix Coste as secretary-manager, and Allan P. Ames as publicity director. N.W. Ayer & Son, advertising agents of Philadelphia, who had engineered the plan of campaign from the start of the movement in the National Coffee Roasters Association, handle the advertising account.
São Paulo's contribution to the advertising fund is sent in monthly instalments to the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee under an agreement that it shall be expended only for magazine and newspaper space.
Supplementing this Brazilian contribution, is the fund raised by voluntary subscriptions from the coffee trade of the United States on the basis of one cent per bag handled annually. This American fund is used for the expenses of administration, for educational advertising outside of magazine and newspaper space, and for various kinds of trade promotion and dealer stimulation.
The first advertising appeared in April, 1919, in 306 leading newspapers in 182 large cities, with a total circulation of more than 16,000,000. The cities chosen represented all the centers of wholesale coffee distribution.
Magazine advertising began in June of the same year, using twenty-one periodicals, all of national circulation. This list has been changed from time to time to meet the special needs of the campaign.
More than fifty grocery-trade magazines have carried the committee's dealer advertising, although not all of these have been used continuously. Every part of the country was represented on the trade-paper list.
Full pages have been run each month in nine of the leading national medical journals. These advertisements were written by a physician of national reputation. Under the caption, "The Case for Coffee," these advertisements have discussed the properties of coffee from the physiological standpoint, and have asked the doctors to judge it fairly.
From the start the committee's advertising has been broadly educational. The properties of coffee have been discussed; charges against coffee have been answered. The housekeeper has been told how to get the best results from the coffee she buys; hotel and restaurant proprietors have been reminded that many of them owe their prosperity largely to a reputation for serving good coffee; new uses have been exploited for coffee, as a flavoring agent for desserts and other sweets; employers have been taught the important service good coffee may render in increasing the comfort and efficiency of their working forces.
Magazine and newspaper advertising is only the nucleus of the campaign. The effect of such "white space" publicity is increased by simultaneous efforts to "merchandise" the campaign, to stimulate the interest of the wholesale and retail trade, to encourage private-brand advertising, and to reach the consumer by other kinds of publicity recognized as essential factors in a well rounded national advertising effort. These activities may be summarized as follows:
Information Service. This department answers inquiries and supplies material for household editors, and for newspaper and magazine writers. Through a national clipping service, it keeps in touch with all published matter relating to coffee. Its special duty is to answer attacks on coffee and the coffee trade. Merchants and dealers make it a practise, when they find misleading articles or editorials in their local newspapers, to send clippings to the committee's headquarters to be handled there as the situation warrants.
Scientific Coffee Research. Twenty-two thousand, five hundred dollars of the American fund have been appropriated thus far for scientific coffee research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The reports of this research will be distributed to the coffee trade throughout the country, and should prove valuable in all branches of coffee merchandising. The findings will be distributed by the committee to schools and colleges, and to consumers through national advertising.
The Coffee Club. This organization was established for the purpose of educating the consumer through constructive team work by the roasters' and jobbers' salesman and the retail dealer. Under this plan, the committee has distributed 50,000 transparent signs for dealers' windows, and 5,000 bronze coffee-club buttons for coffee salesmen. By reference to the Coffee Club in national magazine and newspaper advertising, the retailer is given a chance to tie up with the campaign. Membership in the club is limited to those who are contributing to the publicity fund, and to their salesmen and customers. The club publishes a monthly bulletin in newspaper form, giving the news of the campaign. This has a circulation of 27,000 among wholesalers, salesman, and dealers.
Booklets. The committee has published six booklets, which have reached a total circulation of more than one and a half million copies. These booklets are sold at cost to the coffee trade. The committee reports that, on an average, one hundred requests for them are received daily at its office from consumers in different parts of the country, and that the booklets are the means of a constant campaign of education in American homes and schools.
Brand Advertising. The committee is constantly making efforts to increase the amount of private advertising by coffee roasters, and it estimates that brand advertising has increased at least three hundred percent since the national campaign began. Reproductions of the committee's advertisements, proofs of advertising electrotypes, and copy suggestions are circulated in advance to all roasters and to a large number of retailers, by means of the monthly organ, The Coffee Club.
Coffee Week. During the week of March 29 to April 4, 1920, the committee organized and financed the third national coffee week, which was observed by retailers throughout the country. The feature of this week was a window-trimming contest for which prizes of $2,000 were distributed among several hundred grocers. The contest resulted in displays of coffee in nearly 10,000 grocery windows, and greatly increased the sale and consumption of coffee during this period.
Motion Pictures. The United States fund financed the production and distribution of a coffee motion picture, 128 prints of which were sold to roasters, who exhibited them throughout the country. This picture was shown during coffee week to more than six hundred theater audiences, and it remains in the possession of the trade as an active advertising medium.
New Uses for Coffee. An important factor in increasing consumption has been the promotion of new uses for coffee. In winter, this has taken the form or recipes and suggestions for coffee as a flavoring agent; and in warm weather, there has been a publicity drive for iced coffee.
The joint coffee trade publicity campaign is progressive. New features are being developed, and plans are laid well in advance. It is expected that the reports of the scientific research will furnish fresh material for both direct and indirect advertising.
One of the interesting prospects is a school exhibit, demand for which has been revealed by requests from a large number of teachers, principals, and school superintendents. Efforts to increase the popularity of a product as widely used as coffee suggest almost unlimited opportunities.
The campaign has brought into co-operation producers in one country, and manufacturers and distributers in another country, several thousand miles apart. Its international character, and also the fact that it deals with a product of almost universal use, may account for the attention this campaign has received, not only in the United States, but in every country where advertising is a business factor.
This kind of coffee publicity has given the consumer a better knowledge of coffee, and broken down much of the prejudice against coffee that rested upon popular misunderstanding of its physiological effects.
As best evidence of its sincere wish to give the public the whole truth about coffee, the committee points to the fact that a portion of its funds is being used to finance the scientific investigation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Felix Coste, the secretary-manager of the campaign, spends much of his time traveling about the country and addressing gatherings of coffee wholesalers and dealers. By this means, and by continuous circularization and correspondence, the trade is kept constantly in touch with the developments of the campaign.
Although Brazil is the only coffee-producing country at present co-operating, the advertising has treated all coffees alike. Efforts are being made to have the coffee growers of other countries contribute on a basis proportionate to the benefit they derive. Support from all the coffee countries on the same scale as that on which the producers of São Paulo are contributing would almost double the size of the fund.
Coffee Advertising Efficiency
Reverting to the original advertisement for coffee in English, when we compare it with the latest examples of advertising art, it is of the same order of merit. But Pasqua Rosée had no advertising experts to advise him and no precedents to follow. Pasqua Rosée was a native of Smyrna, who was brought to London by a Mr. Edwards, a dealer in Turkish merchandise, to whom he acted as a sort of personal servant. One of his principal duties was the preparation of Mr. Edwards' morning drink of Turkish coffee.
"But the novelty thereof," history tells us, "drawing too much company to him, he [Mr. Edwards] allowed his said servant, with another of his son-in-law, to sell it publicly." So it came about that Pasqua Rosée set up a coffee house in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill.
And since Pasqua Rosée's idea, naturally, was to acquaint the London public with the virtues and delectable qualities of the product of which his prospective customers were naturally uniformed, he put into his advertisement those facts and arguments which he felt would be most likely to attract attention, to excite interest, and to convince. If the reader will glance at Rosée's advertisement, which is reproduced on page 55, he will be struck with the well-nigh irresistible charm of his unaffected, straightforward bid for patronage. Having no advertising fetishes to warp his judgment, he told an interesting story in a natural manner, carrying conviction. It matters not that some of the virtues attributed to the drink have since been disallowed. He believed them to be true. Few there were in those days who knew the real "truth about coffee."
Even his typography, unstudied from the standpoint of modern "display," is attractive, appropriate, and exceedingly pleasant to the eye. And since at that time there was no cereal substitute or other bugaboos to contend against, and to hinder him from doing the simple, obvious thing in advertising, he did that very thing—and did it exceedingly well.
In fact, in the historic advertisement, Pasqua Rosée set an example and established a copy standard which had a very beneficial effect on all the coffee advertising of that early date. This will be evident from a glance at the accompanying exhibits of other early advertisements. It was not until the days of so-called "modern" advertising that coffee publicity reached low-water mark in efficiency and value. In these dark days most coffee advertisers ignored the principles discovered and applied in other lines of grocery merchandising. Instead of telling their public how good their product was, they actually followed the opposite course, and warned the public against the dangers of coffee drinking! Instead of saying to the public, "Coffee has many virtues, and our brand is one of the best examples," their text said in effect, "Coffee has many deleterious properties; some, or most, of which have been eliminated in our particular brand."
They were, for the most part, apostles of negation.
Hopeful signs, however, are multiplying that this condition of things in the coffee industry has passed, and that the practise[Pg 462] of telling the coffee story with certitude will soon become general.
We may well applaud the publicity work of all coffee advertisers who follow where Pasqua Rosée led—those who tell the public how good coffee is to drink and how much good it does you if you drink it. Considering the advertising and typographical resources available to the modern advertiser, it certainly should be possible for this message to be conveyed to the public with at least some of the charm of the first coffee message.
One of the most notable examples of how to advertise coffee well is that set by Yuban coffee. Unquestionably, Yuban is doing in a thoroughly up-to-date and appropriate fashion what Pasqua Rosée started out to do in 1652.
The effect on those who give only a superficial glance at a Yuban advertisement is to arouse a keen desire to enjoy a cup of Yuban coffee. To induce such a state of mind is, of course, the object of all good advertising.
Yuban advertisements have utilized two vital principles in influencing the minds of consumers. In the first place, they have made a cup of coffee seem to be a very delectable drink. In the second place, they have made the serving of a cup of coffee seem to be of the greatest social value.
One does not see in a Yuban advertisement any reference to the "removal of caffein", or to Yuban's "freedom from defects common to other coffees." There is no reference to the ill effects of drinking ordinary coffee. Yuban wastes no valuable space in unselling coffee. Instead, the whole intent, effectively carried out, is to paint an enticing picture by descriptive phraseology, typographic "manner", and illustrative treatment.
Until Yuban came, those of us in the coffee trade who had given the matter thought had often wondered why, with the wealth of material available to writers of coffee advertisements, so little had been done to make the product alluring—why so little had been done to give atmosphere to the product. So many interesting things may be said about the history of coffee; the spread of the industry through various countries; how Brazil came to be the coffee-producing country of the world; how coffee is cultivated, harvested, and shipped; how it is stored, roasted, handled, delivered—in short, the entire process by which coffee reaches the breakfast table from the plantations of the tropics. Yuban made effective use of this material.
Simply to tell these things in an interesting, natural, convincing way makes coffee appear as a healthful, delicious drink; whereas the negative, defensive sort of advertising, that plays into the hands of the substitutes, puts coffee in the wrong light.
When one reads Yuban advertisements, they are seen to be an entirely acceptable and appropriate presentation of coffee merit and thoroughly in accord with the principles of good advertising, as exemplified in all other lines of trade. The wonder grows why so many coffee advertisers have been content to remain in the defensive, controversial position into which the alarmist coffee-substitute advertising has jockeyed them.
The Yuban advertisements are not without their faults; errors of historical facts can be found in them; definitions are sometimes mixed; some of the drawings might be better; but, in the main, the copy is convincing and praiseworthy.
In Yuban advertisements the things that have been so long left undone have now been done in a masterful way. If we refer to the accompanying illustrations, we can see how effectively the public is being led to realize and believe in:
1. The intrinsic desirability of coffee—the actual pleasure to be derived from the act of partaking of it.
2. That it is delightful medium for social intercourse—part of the essential equipment for an intimate chat or more general assemblage of friends.
3. That its proper service is a badge of social distinction—the mark of a successful hostess.
These three thoughts, dominant in Yuban advertising, should be woven into the fabric of all coffee advertising. For with these three thoughts, Arbuckle Brothers have blazed the trail for the right thing in coffee advertising.
The Yuban case has been so largely dwelt upon here because it sets so bright and shining an example. Much that is praiseworthy in it and more along the same lines is true of White House, Hotel Astor, and Seal Brand; but the copy shown will illustrate this better than any comment.