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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

"Getting strong, flavorful personalities for a strong, flavorful coffee was the key," said Marty Orzio, executive vice president and chief creative officer at the Chicago office of BBDO.

Wait a New York minute. The Chicago office? What is the BBDO New York office, chopped liver?

Although the Sara Lee division for which Dubin works, the one overseeing Chock full o'Nuts, Chase & Sanborn and other coffee and tea brands is based in Harrison, a New York suburb, Sara Lee's corporate headquarters is in Chicago. But Orzio, formerly with two New York agencies, Lowe & Partners and Merkley Newman Harty, hastened to note that he is a native New Yorker.

"I grew up with Chock full o'Nuts," Orzio reassured a reporter. "I can remember my aunt saying, `It's the only coffee that when I brew it I can smell it from the living room.'"

Returning to the campaign, Orzio said that in tests, consumers approved of the strategy of "positioning the brand as a strong, flavorful coffee for a distinctive place."

"Who thought Seattle would become known for coffee?" Orzio asked. "Of all the places in the country that can compete with that, New York has the best potential, because of the strong personalities associated with the city."

At the same time, Orzio said, "we don't want to lose what's real with these people and we don't want to make them into cartoons." That is why the photographs by Richards are shot in a realistic, journalistic style and the radio commercials are narrated by an announcer in a documentary format.

The campaign, which began last month, will run through early March "full strength," Dubin said, pun intended, with an eye toward expanding it in the future to major Northeast markets like Boston and Philadelphia. It is to be augmented in the new year with elements like a promotion titled "Chock Loft Live," offering consumers a chance to win tickets to a concert in a SoHo loft.

Speaking of music, no discussion of Chock full o'Nuts can ignore its famous jingle, adapted from a song called That Heavenly Feeling and sung for many years by Page Morton Black, the wife of the founder. The jingle was the subject of a promotion last year with local radio stations, which asked listeners to sing it to win prizes, but it is not part of the current campaign.

"We're looking to do something updated with the jingle in 2004, its 50th anniversary," Dubin said. "It's not the most modern; people don't say `heavenly' anymore. But we should never take it for granted."

For those eager to sing along, here are the lyrics:

"Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee

Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee,

Better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy."

New Yorkers with really long memories may recall the last line as "Rockefeller's money," which was changed after the Rockefel-ler family complained.

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