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A Richer Cuppa Joe

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Aiming to attract the youthful crowd that tilts toward Starbucks as its coffee of choice,7-Eleven this week will launch a radio effort for its new Dark Mountain Roast premium blend.

The spots, via Coffee/Black Advertising in Dallas, feature the familiar voice of actor John O'Hurley, who is perhaps best known for his stint on Seinfeld playing Elaine's boss, J. Peterman.

In an homage to that somewhat pompous global traveler, O'Hurley says he searched "from the frigid slopes of Macho Kalala to steamy jungles of Rangoon" for Dark Mountain Roast. "After weeks of hard travel, I had run out of lip balm and was losing the will to live," he adds, before sighting a 7-Eleven store.

The two-week media run begins today in 36 markets.

A 7-Eleven representative would not quantify the media budget. The Dallas-based retail chain spent$26 million on advertising in 1999 and $20 million for the first 10 months of 2000, per Competitive Media Reporting.

Produced from Arabica beans, Dark Mountain Roast is much richer than the chain's other offerings and is meant to appeal to men and women, 18-29, that lean towards the dark, bitter flavors offered by Starbucks and other coffeehouses.

"Young adults are the fastest- growing segment of coffee consumption and they prefer a darker roast," the rep said. "This is a new product that meets a trend."

The new product is 7-Eleven's second foray into a dark roast variety. It unveiled its French Roast blend in 1999.

Dark Mountain Roast began rolling out to most of the chain's 5,200 U.S. locations on Feb. 1. In-store promotions include banners and counter displays. A sampling day in some stores and giveaways of prize packs, including travel mugs and a month's supply of coffee, will also be part of the introductory efforts.