Ad Snacking: The Best Part Of This Folgers Ad Is...Absolutely Nothing

Each week in Ad Snacking, former advertising executive turned chef Eli Sussman takes a close look at a recent food advertisement. He'll keep the copy short to guarantee the R.O.I. for procrastinating at your desk stays high.

We are all small pieces of a societal machine that, like a old beat-up motor, barely functions. The WD-40 of our daily lives, greasing the interactions and making us semi-functional, is the brewed liquid made by passing water through beans we call coffee. All around the world, millions of people are right now brewing a pot of coffee. In every home, every office, every oil change place, every art gallery, every barbershop, every-everywhere — there are people drinking coffee. While Starbucks is arguably the most famous coffee shop in the world — and by extension, its coffee the most famous — the most famous brand-name coffee has to be Folgers. In 1984, Susan Spiegel Solovay, Bill Vernick and Leslie Pearl sat down and wrote this jingle:

"The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup!"

The world of coffee jingles would never be the same. In this week's Ad Snacking, we catch up with a single woman who can't wait to get to her interpretive dance class. Will she have enough energy to make it through the rigors of said class? Will her racially diverse, pastel-sporting friends judge her if she misses a step? I hope she drinks coffee beforehand; she needs that liquid courage!

Here's the ad:

Product: C


With a new coffee shop featuring snarky know-it-all baristas popping up on every corner in America, I find it hard to believe that people still buy Folgers for home consumption. It seems that every grocery store carries dozens of artisanal varieties of beans from far away countries like Ethiopia or Cuba — good coffee is now very accessible, but amazing coffee for your home isn't really THAT affordable. Still, people shell out $5 for a cup multiple times a day, so really, what's more economical? So, who still buys Folgers? Maybe a car repair shop. Perhaps a church that holds a lot of AA meetings in the basement. But a young attractive SWF who takes a Zumba class? She's at Starbucks so much that the sight of her Tory Burch topcoat is an "order-fire" cue for the baristas to start foaming soy milk.

Message: C+'ish


Since her coffee alarm brews at 7:15, let's argue that with driving she doesn't even get to Zumba class until 8 a.m. She clearly doesn't have kids because no one that has kids sleeps in until 7:15 a.m. This is a sad fact of life any parent can verify. The absence of a significant other is on purpose by the ad creatives to reinforce her strong, independent nature. In Beyonce's voice, "all the single ladies, all the single Folgers...before Zumba class" (not quite the same ring as the original). So we've got a single woman with a beautiful home who can afford to take an 8 a.m. Zumba class (like $45 a pop, easily) and arrive at work showered and ready to take on the world by 10. I think we've established that she's way more likely to be drinking Blue Bottle than Folgers, but maybe she's frugal. All I know is, Sheryl Sandberg should hire this woman because for Folgers Zumba lady, there is no glass ceiling.

Creativity: C


This ad feels dated, right? I'm not the only one that did a double-take expecting her to crack a Zima at the end? The odd thing is, this ad is blowing up my Hulu stream. And as a glutton for punishment, I've been choosing this commercial as my Hulu ad experience for over a week now. When presented with the choice to watch Jeremy Lin awkwardly promote Volvo or Zumba lady love life, I'm going with Janet in the pastel T-shirt over Jeremy in the red hatchback all day every day. The premise, the pandering, the dancing, it's all pretty awful. This ad would have killed during the second season of Friends. But running in between Parks and Rec, it feels like more like an SNL parody than a real commercial. But in an age of constant advertising overstimulation, Folgers knows how to get people hooked on their own brand of stimulant: keep hammering home that godforsaken jingle. I'd like to lie and tell you that Folgers hasn't won. But on trains, in the shower, walking to work all week I've been humming a little jingle that my brain can't shake. Too sticky. Too iconic. So for me, the best part of waking up, will be the day I can finally shake this jingle loose from my brain.

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