An online friend and I use ”friend” loosely since I have no idea who she really is other than a helpful sharer, sent me this link. She knows that I am always on the hunt for interesting examples of Marketing as Service and true to form, this one qualified. Carte Noire, a brand of coffee sold in the UK by Kraft, has assembled a hunky cadre of actors who read delicious bits of novels on camera under the promise “For a more seductive coffee break.”
The readings are quite well done and they leave you thirsty for more. I’ve now watched actor Joseph Fiennes read a few pages from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, and Greg Wise liven up Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray. Other readers include Dominic West and Dan Stevens. All told, there are 37 of these luscious treats waiting for you on the website. Clearly Kraft has gone to a lot of trouble to make this online effort pleasing, offering free samples of their coffee and a sweepstakes for the “spa” inclined. And partner Penguin Books is just a link away, ready to sell you the complete novels sampled on the site.
As an example of Marketing as Service, this one is reasonably fresh. The sales pitch is gentle, as long as it doesn’t bother you that the reader is holding a cup of coffee much of the time or is sitting so close to a mug that he risks scalding himself on the steam. In truth, the product information is so scant, that about all I could learn about Carte Noire is that it’s made from a “100% Arabica bean blend.” And don’t ask me what “Arabica” is because I’m too busy watching my next chapter.
After a bit of sleuthing, I did find at two offline extensions of this idea. At some point last year, Carte Noire hosted a major sampling event at which fresh coffee was served, stories were read, and everyone left with a bookmark that had a sample of the freeze-dried product attached. It looked like a rich experience from the video, but I can’t tell if this was a “one-off” or an ongoing program. There was also a blog post about some Carte Noire sponsored readings at The Cheltenham Literature Festival.
What I didn’t find was much in the way of social media or grass roots activities. Perhaps they are going on in England as I write, but I couldn’t find a word about them online. So let me take a coffee break of my own and imagine how they could brew up a truly special 360° campaign at just about any budget level. Hopefully, if I’ve got the wrong flavor here, the kind folks at Kraft UK will set me straight.
Again in full ignorance I ask, why isn’t Carte Noire sponsoring “seductive book clubs” all over England? Take a look at what e.l.f. did with their “make-up parties” and you’ll see an easy formula for grass roots efforts that could certainly connect the brand with their target. Provide a pot full of product, gift certificates from Penguin and reader notes prepared by a worthy scholar and you’ve got the recipe for trial-generating, loyalty-building revelry. Then imagine if Joseph Fiennes showed up unannounced at one of these parties to read for a bit. Surely that would be a piping hot story for the local press.
Carte Noire also seems to be going light on the social media front. Sure they have links to FB, Twitter, digg and delicious at the bottom of each page but why not share more of this beautifully produced readings on YouTube and Facebook? Your fans are far more likely to spend time with you on social media that on your website. I did find that some of the actors are sharing their Carte Noire readings via podcasts, which is a nice touch, but again, I really had to dig to find these. How about becoming a major advocate of “seductive book clubs” on Twitter, following your target and sharing your unique POV on having a “seductive coffee break?”
Of course, I may be all wet here. Carte Noire is marketed across the pond and for all I know, this campaign is more than a coffee break, and instead is a full course meal of integrated marketing applying the latest techniques in guerrilla and social media. If so, roast away Kraft UK. I promise not to be bitter.