Are we on the cusp of a coffee war?


In a creative twist of in-your-face marketing, brand Wonda seems to be putting market leader Nescafe Classic on its backfoot.

… the TVC in a harmless act of “belling the cat” provides much room for gossip and reading between the lines…

Attempts to reach ETIKA for further info were unsuccessful up to press time but enough sources have made this story possible.

The new TVC takes on a cheeky smart-ass poke at Nescafe Classic playing on the Class vs Classic interchanges.

The TVC in a harmless act of “belling the cat” provides much room for gossip and reading between the lines.

In particular, when it is going head on with Nescafe Classic in real life too. No prizes for guessing who the red cup refers to, but that’s just my infantile reaction.

You can watch the video here. But let me unpack this “gathering  storm in a coffee cup”.…

For many years, rebel brand Wonda has been a thorn in the side of collosal brand Nescafe Classic. But it has been entertaining as their new spot shows. They have also demonstrated that there are so many ways to skin a cat.

Wonda is the second ranked ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee player in the market and is the fastest growing coffee player in the RTD coffee segment, contributing 27% value share as of year-to-date

But does Wonda want to awaken the sleeping giant and market leader who prefers to remain reactionary than otherwise?

Or am I overthinking that this new TVC is a stealth stab at the Nescafe Classic brand in a public domain space?

… Now whether the viewer makes the connection that the protagonist in this plot is Wonda and the antagonist is Nescafe Classic is left to the imagination…

After all, they are the Goliath in this market segment and have proven to be so in their domineering mindset.

Permit to shamelessly share a personal experience I had with Nestlé  Malaysia: Some years ago, when we celebrated the 20th anniversary of MARKETING magazine we did a personalized edition of our magazine for each reader who received his/her copy with their face on the cover. While it was a world’s first in publishing parlance, it delighted many readers and some still keep their copy till this day. After all, there will be only one such copy of it in the world.

Nestlé Malaysia however took this as an affront as the project was supported by Etika, so we immediately got a friend inside Nestle Malaysia to hijack the copies at the Reception table and destroy all 46 hand-made copies meant for Nestlé marketing staff.

While I saw this as a childish reaction to a task that took three months, I moved on. After that there were more such erratic and immature incidents, but we’ll save it for another day, ya?

Now back to this new TVC: by juxtaposing Classic (read dated) with Class (sexy and in), the commercial uses a series of vignettes to express this point. Depicted through the lens of specific audience segments, the message is clear.

Now, whether the viewer makes the connection that the protagonist in this plot is Wonda and the antagonist Nescafe Classic is left to the imagination.

But it does provide ample fodder for talk and entertainment.

Perhaps this is what buzz marketing is all about, even though the Advertising Standards Authority of Malaysia may not fully agree with me.

For them and the uninitiated, this marketing strategy is not new: from the Pepsi Challenge Taste test in the 70s to Burger King’s McDonald’s-targeted advertising, which we showcased recently, it is open season for fair game.

Meantime, enjoy your weekend with your favourite coffee. And be a class act!

We welcome your views on this piece at [email protected]

Senior VP of Marketing & Alternative Business, Santharuban T Sundaram
Marketing Manager, Cheong May Yeen
Brand Manager, Alia Ibrahim
Senior Brand Executive, Melissa Chang.

Art Director, Yu Chee Hao
Copywriters, David Winston Foenander and Chak Mohd
Producer, Rachel Liam
Senior Account Director, Frances Angus
Senior Account Manager, Jenny Lim
Account Executive, Athira Zulkernaini
Director of Studio Services, Yap Wai Hung

PRODUCTION HOUSE: Playhouse Pictures
Film Director, Adrian Nguyen
Executive Producer, Ryan Chong
Producer, Lim Lin Cuey

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