More than half a year after Starbucks announced its entry
into the instant coffee market, the company is launching its first major ad
campaign for Via. From today through Monday, the 30-second TV spot invites you to
one of its 7,500 locations in the U.S. and Canada to “take the taste challenge”
and see if you can tell Via from Starbucks’ fresh-brewed coffee. Additional
incentives include a coupons for a free coffee on your next visit and $1 off
your purchase of Via. The taste test idea came partly from the results of ads in
its first test market, Chicago, where people noticed the product but weren’t
checking them out in stores. Besides Starbucks cafes, Via will be available in other
retailers such as Office Depot, Barnes & Noble Cafes, and REI, and will arrive in
major grocery stores next year.
Back in February, our own in-house panel of java junkies
participated in a blind taste test. They found Via wasn’t just undistinguishable
from Starbucks original brew: It was better.
So what if coffee lovers everywhere discover that the instant
coffee tastes just as good as Starbucks’ fresh brew—or even better? While
Starbucks may be targeting the powdery version to
travelers and campers, what’s preventing Via from becoming a replacement to fresh-brewed? For less than $1 a cup (a 3-pack retails for $2.95 and
a 12-pack for $9.95), penny pinchers may just stay home for
their morning cup of joe.