Home / Business Focus
Sun, Dec 21, 2003 - Page 12 News List

A native brew reasserts its claim to New York

Chock full o'Nuts wants to reinforce the loyalties of longtime buyers while attracting younger urban flavor-seekers

By Stuart Elliott  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Chock full o'Nuts, a regional mainstay that calls itself ``New York's coffee,'' has always linked itself to its city of origin, as evidenced by its checkerboard, black-and-yellow packages evocative of the old Checker cabs, as can be seen in this ad. Chock full o'Nuts is now seeking to strengthen that affiliation in a campaign carrying the theme ``Full o'NY flavor.''

PHOTO: THE NEW YORK TIMES

A venerable brand known for decades as "that heavenly coffee" is coming out with a campaign that, to quote Harry Nilsson, guesses the Lord must be in New York City.

The brand, of course, is Chock full o'Nuts, a regional mainstay that calls itself "New York's coffee" because it was started in the city in the early 1930s by William Black when he converted his chain of nut shops into stores that sold a sandwich and a cup of coffee for a nickel.

Always linked to its city of origin, as evidenced by its checkerboard, black-and-yellow packages evocative of the old Checker cabs, Chock full o'Nuts is now seeking to strengthen that affiliation in a campaign carrying the theme "Full o'NY flavor."

With a budget estimated at US$2 million to US$3 million as it starts in metropolitan New York, the campaign is composed of traditional advertising (print, outdoor and radio) created by BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group; promotions, samplings and other events; sponsorships; a Web site (chockfullonuts.com); and Gotham-centric marketing that includes posters on buses and at subway stops and signs atop taxis and on water towers.

In addition to the new theme and localized media buys, there is a new flavor, New York Roast; a plan to update the taxicab look of the packaging; and the expansion of a franchised chain of coffee shops in the Northeast called Chock Cafes.

The campaign is focused overall on associating Chock full o'Nuts with quintessential New York qualities like assertiveness, boldness and robustness. That is partly to reinforce the loyalties of longtime buyers and partly to attract younger shoppers, known as urban flavor-seekers, who are drawn to more intensely flavored foods and beverages.

Keeping current customers while appealing to new ones is one of the trickiest tasks in marketing.

"If you look at this brand, there are tremendous connections to consumers," said Ed Dubin, director of marketing and innovation at Sara Lee Coffee and Tea in Harrison, New York, a division of the Sara Lee Corp, which has owned Chock full o'Nuts since 1999. "And a lot of it is tied to the fact it has such strong New York roots."

"This brand is authentically New York, which has a really powerful equity for us," Dubin said. "But we want to know, how does that resonate today" with the "new, younger group of consumers who want an alternative to the huge, Goliath-type brands" like Starbucks.

(Those with long memories can recall when there were about as many Chock full o'Nuts shops on Manhattan streets as there are Starbucks shops today. It appears that being the "first mover" does not provide an advantage forever.)

To demonstrate how Chock full o'Nuts is "full o'NY flavor" that all New Yorkers can love, many of the print ads, posters and signs feature the work of a photographer, Eugene Richards, who captures local residents -- real people, not models, Dubin promised -- at work and play.

They are seen outside a factory in the Meatpacking District, in a diner, in front of a hot-dog stand, schlepping a cello up the front steps of a brownstone, on the Coney Island Cyclone roller-coaster, at Gleason's Gym and on a roof in Hell's Kitchen.

Each ad carries an appropriate caption. The meatpacker, with a stern look and surrounded by carcasses, is labeled "Chock full o'Attitude." A harried waitress in the diner is labeled "Chock full o'Strength." Boxers at Gleason's, striking poses, are labeled "Chock full o'Character." And the packed roller-coaster is labeled -- what else? -- "Chock full o'Nuts."

This story has been viewed 4398 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top