Opened in 1963, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has long held the reputation as Southern California's "original" coffee house.
However, as competing chains rally for a share of the specialty-coffee market, the company realized that it had to do something to stand out from the pack to build brand awareness and reach a new generation of java-swilling customers.
To coincide with the launch of its "Extreme It" campaign, The Coffee Bean worked with AOR JS2 Communications and entertainment marketing firm Omelet to craft its first viral effort. The resulting "Mascot Roommate" project targeted "the forward-thinking, hip, online community," says Carl Larsen, JS2 account supervisor, by "infusing some irreverence... [and] positioning the company as 'extreme.'"
Omelet created and produced a series of guerrilla-style films based on the lives of four fictitious friends, one of whom landed a summer job as The Coffee Bean's "Mr. Ice Blended" mascot. The other roommates stop at nothing to harass their foam-clad buddy, from public head-butting to shoving him in the trunk of a car. Seeded on Web sites that include YouTube, Revver, and AtomFilms, the shorts were complemented by a Web site and MySpace pages.
Within days, the staged scenarios spread throughout the online universe; blogs from Will Video for Food to USA Today's Pop Candy debated the shorts' user-generated authenticity while praising their creativity, and more than 500,000 people viewed the Mascot Roommate content in the first month. CNN Headline News featured the site in a segment after a producer contacted one "roommate" via MySpace.
Both JS2 and Omelet will continue to work with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on upcoming projects.
PR team: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, JS2 Communications, and Omelet (all in Los Angeles)
Campaign: Mascot Roommate
Duration: June-September 2006
Budget: Approximately $30,000