Illy uses Van to promote 'ethical and elite' status

Italian luxury-coffee brand Illy is planning a majorcampaign to differentiate itself from retail coffee brands such as Café Nero and Starbucks.

Van Communications will aim to position Illy as an ­‘ethical' coffee-buyer, and reinforce its positioning as an elite product to seek out in cafés and shops.

The agency's MD Mark Cooper said the brief included promotion of the family-owned firm's ‘bean to cup' production chain. It will also highlight Illy's commitment to the sustainable development of farmers' land, its cultivation education programmes, and its Quality Awards scheme.

‘As well as being committed to producing perfect ­espresso, we will be promoting the fact that Illy ensures farmers and their communities reap the social and ­economic benefits of their efforts,' said Cooper.

Illy is not part of the Fairtrade movement, and boss Andrea Illy maintains the firm will continue to buy direct from its pool of more than 3,000 farmers, rather than signing up to a more general fair-trade scheme.

Insisting on strict quality controls, Illy pays as much as 30 per cent above market rates for its beans, which it sources from South America, Ethiopia and India. Illy is distributed in the UK by Euro Food Brands and sold in upmarket independent coffee shops, hotels and restaurants. Its branded coffee beans are also avai­lable in supermarkets.

Last year, Illy's profits rose by a third to £9m. It has ‘Espressamente Illy' cafés in 18 countries, and exports
account for half of revenue.

Van reports to Euro Food Brands and Illy.UK PR for Illy has been handled in-house for two years. It has previously used Cohn & Wolfe and RJH.

Its global account is led by Cohn & Wolfe's Italy office.

Van was founded in 2004 by ex-Borkowski PR director Mark Cooper and Matt de Leon, who was formerly at Sputnik Communications. The London-based agency also works for clients including Diageo GB, BSkyB, Walkabout and Jongleurs.

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