New campaign for Maxwell House coffee is far from ‘epic’ – and that’s why it works so well!

Nothing is more pleasant than waking to a cup of good coffee. Moving forward, for me at least, this has to be Maxwell House, given the exceptional job I think it’s agency Wieden and Kennedy has done for it.


What is refreshing about the new Maxwell House campaign is its honesty. We all know that packaged coffee cannot possibly be as good as a cup made fresh by a barista. The laws of physics get in the way. Combine the quality of the grind, and its age, with the instability of temperature and pressure – that only a big machine can provide – and you have a contest that’s impossible to win.

The team at Wieden and Kennedy has been clever enough to realise this truth, and in a world that has increasingly begun to believe in the superlative, has chosen to walk away from it. Presenting Maxwell House for exactly what it is – a good coffee, not an exceptional one, though it doesn’t stress the latter point any more than it needs to – the new campaign for Maxwell House scores in three key areas.


1. It is honest and courageous, at a time when few campaigns are

Very few brands would have the balls to admit they’re not the best. Even when we know there is no shame in doing do, as Bernbach’s manifesto of ‘No. 2ism’ has proven well beyond doubt. And as the legendary David Trott highlighted in a recent speech, too (thanks Justin Guerney of Publicis): “You don’t have to be better, you just have to be different.”


2. It is counter-intuitive

We are all victims, until aware, of trends and fads that society foists on us. I scarce know a young person who doesn’t aim to hit the ball ‘out of the park’ – despite the clear and present danger it poses to innocent bystanders! The Wieden and Kennedy campaign gives us the licence we need to walk away from the idea of ‘great,’ questioning at the same time whether it is a genuinely useful concept, or just one that simply helps modern management gurus ( I had Jim Collins mind) sell more books and gain more speaking assignments!


3. It adds to consumer vocabulary

When a brand puts a song in the heart of people (see Droga and ‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday’ for Woolworths) or arms them with a new vocabulary and lexicon (If it weren’t for Mondays, we’d hate Tuesdays!), its chances of relevance and sustained commercial success increase dramatically.

This is why I think the campaign, though not epic (and purposely so) is so great… I mean… good!


Patrick D'souza
BY Patrick D'souza ON 17 April 2014
Patrick D’souza is a part-time student of Applied Psychology at the Australian College of Psychology (ACAP), Sydney, Australia. He holds an MBA (High-distinction) from the AGSM (Australian Graduate School of management), UNSW as well as Bachelor in Accounting. He works in marketing for one of Australia’s top private equity, debt and capital management firms. You can connect with him on Twitter @patrickbdsouza1