Ganging up on gangs in the coffee business

Go ahead make my day Kenco

I’ve been looking for a campaign to support last November’s post; The World belongs to Creative Thinkers: an article inspired by Philip Kotler’s book, Marketing 3.0 in which he urges us to make marketing a force for long-term good and not just short-term sales.

For me, the approach that best illustrates this them of ethical substance is Kenco’s Coffee v Gangs campaign, which takes the concept of Fairtrade to the next step: you can do more than give the farmers a fair price, you can also give young people an alternative to joining gangs in the villages surrounding the coffee plantations in Honduras.

Doing good is tough

To give you an idea of how serious this problem is, the 60 second spot, which tells the story of how 20 teenagers were turned from a life of crime by the scheme, could not be shot in Honduras because it is simply too dangerous. The TV and cinema ad, which is supported by what JWT describe as a digital hub (more on that subject later) follows the campaign’s progress and allows people to get involved at a deeper level, was devised by the Mondelēz International brand in association with their creative agency partner JWT.

Kenco’s Brand Manager, Emad Nadim, talks of the brand embarking on, “A potentially life-changing project.” I definitely think he is on to something we will see more of in the coming years.

A brand on the right track

There is growing evidence that Millenials are deeply concerned about the environment and, after the fiasco of the “Greed is good” approach of recent years, brands that see the bigger picture of community, ethics, transparency and accountability will create the narratives that really count when it comes to making an emotional connection with consumers.

Showing pictures of people sipping coffee in leather armchairs, surrounded by pseudo our man in Havana canvases doesn’t make a differentiated emotional connection with the brand. Do all these pictures in our coffee shops come from the same stock shot agency?\

The art of story telling

The commercial, in the style of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, narrates the story of a young man diverted from a life of crime as told through animated tattoos that narrate the story of a life saved from guns and gangs.

According to the campaign’s art director, Matt Leach, the commercial was shot in a Barrios surrounded by teams of deprived kids who ended up featuring in the film. The lead character is also an untrained local actor standing in for the real heroes of the campaign who are busy keeping their heads down back in the favelas of Honduras.

Going the extra mile

It seems to me that even the act of shooting the commercial in a deprived part of the world could be a life-changing event for children who might be inspired by the process of finding themselves in front of a camera.

Can you imagine the transcendent impact of seeing and yourself featured in a commercial against the audio backdrop of lyrics from legendary Honduran rappers, Socio and Dana Che? Perhaps there are other stories to be told besides those of the youngsters in the Honduran coffee plantations? Perhaps the shoot could have been assessed for it’s impact on an equally deprived, if somewhat safer, part of the world?
I guess, once you start down this road, we need to consider everything we do in terms of ethical impact. I wonder of any of the street-cast of kids in the town of Anonos where it was filmed will benefit as an unintended but welcome consequence of this life-changing campaign?

A work in progress

I think the campaign is outstanding. I hope is gongs at the awards but, more importantly, I hope to see many more like it. however, The campaign needs to follow through, digitally,  on the promise of the ad.  Visit the website to check on progress:

It’s a shame that the site is a little overproduced in terms of graphics rather than narrative and that the associated Instagram site seems a little underwhelming in terms of content:

But I still love the campaign. It’s an example to us all. i will be back to see how the narrative propagates and the effect on the communities it serves – there in the back streets of Honduras and here in the hight streets of the so-called developed world.