Caribou Coffee’s Brilliant and Fresh Marketing Campaign: Life is More than Coffee


By Fausto Mendez

Apparently, life is more than coffee. I was unaware of this, but this is the message of Caribou Coffee’s new marketing campaign. Well, I’m glad someone finally told me because I’ve been working inside this cubicle, sipping on lattes and green tea all day. The brilliant marketing campaign is a stark contrast from the classic message that coffee is all about focus and office productivity. 

    “Life is more than coffee. That’s why there’s coffee,” says Caribou Coffee via its new marketing campaign. The campaign launched in March with a series of innovative cups that aim to inspire and exercise your creativity with designs that you can draw on, color in or paint yourself.


     The coffee shop’s napkins also offer similar function with inspirational and time-wasting fun while you sip, sip, sip. 


    Of course, that part of the campaign is great at marketing to current customers, but what is Caribou doing outside of its shop to attract the attention of the rest of us? Images coupled with messages that promote a love of life beyond the office and coffee shop populate the company’s consumer-facing marketing materials, including billboards. 


    The message is quite the opposite of the message of the marketing campaign that popularized the term “coffee break”. Back in the ‘50s and ’60s, the Pan American Coffee Bureau launched radio, magazine and newspaper campaigns that touted the benefits of coffee, mostly as it relates to work. Prior to this marketing campaign, employers didn’t allow for coffee breaks. The idea of a coffee break was absurd, but people didn’t associate coffee with productivity at the time.


    The absurdly successful slogan, which took many forms over the years, originally read: “Give yourself a coffee break, and get what coffee gives to you.” And the promotion worked. Employers learned about the benefits of coffee, and they made room for it during work hours. Cigarette companies tried a similar scheme, though it didn’t work as well. 

    Today, Caribou Coffee is taking a different approach, disassociating coffee with the drab office. Why should marketers limit the benefits to work? Now that everyone understands the benefits of coffee, the association to the boring office is actually a downer, not a positive message. After all, coffee can boost any moment, so take a cup with you wherever you go and smile. Marketers and advertisers, take notes.


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