Eight O’Clock Coffee Commercial Leaves a Bitter Taste

I recently wrote a blog post about a few television commercials that caught my attention for all the right reasons. Last week, there was one ad in particular that also grabbed my attention, but this time left a bad taste in my mouth. Take a look:

At first I had a negative reaction because the main character slurps her coffee. It’s a pet peeve; what can I say? But the more times I viewed the ad, the more I realized there’s a much larger flaw. Even worse than the coffee slurping is the way the Eight O’Clock Coffee brand is positioned.

Okay, I get what this commercial is trying to do. It says that Eight O’Clock Coffee is for “those who put coffee first.” It wants you to believe that this coffee is so good that not even an important job interview can get in the way of enjoying your morning cup of joe.

But is that really a good thing to promote?

Is this coffee drinker more serious about her coffee than she is about getting a job? Are all Eight O’Clock Coffee drinkers slackers? Are they all over-caffeinated and under-motivated? That’s not exactly a brand with which I want to associate.

In my opinion, the ad would have had a far greater impact if Eight O’Clock Coffee had positioned itself in a positive light. Imagine if the character had been hired on the spot because of her coffee preference. Or if the hiring manager had assumed that the interviewee’s taste in coffee is a positive reflection of her character. Or if the fact that the applicant was a fan of Eight O’Clock Coffee spoke so highly of her that no other candidate could compete.

Instead, the commercial ends with the coffee lover’s résumé being shredded.

Don’t get me wrong: the commercial’s humor isn’t lost on me. However, in this case, I think Eight O’Clock Coffee undermined its own brand for the sake of a laugh, placing more value on a quick chuckle than their long-term messaging goals. As some other trusted brands have learned (cough, cough, Apple and Gildan), that’s a dangerous wager to make.

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