King Samba wants to be a royal pain in the neck for other instant coffee marketers.
That is the plan of Smith & Associates. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shop created the monarch to launch Samba Cafƒ, a Brazilian instant coffee in the New York market.
"We're looking to make [King Samba] a long-term icon," said agency president Andy Smith. "We did some focus groups . . . [and] he was very well received. He's a very recognizable character . . . dressed in the colors of Brazil, with a coffee bean crown and a staff topped with a coffee mug."
Rich Phillips, U.S. marketing manager for the brand that is already popular in Europe and Asia, put the launch budget at $1 million.
Phillips said he initially contacted Smith because he "loved" its "God speaks" billboards. He declined to name the seven other Florida agencies that pitched the Miami-based client.
"I don't like things that are cute but irrelevant," Phillips said. "We needed someone who can clearly get a message across that's funny and interesting. This King Samba concept is new and different and will stand out [in] the crowd."
Smith said the New York tri-state intro is a sign of the firm's confidence in the product, which will next hit store shelves in California, followed by Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Florida.
"We're a bit of a David against Goliath going in," Phillips said. "Our competitors are Procter & Gamble's Folgers and Kraft's Maxwell House [instant coffees]. We need to get our name out quickly and in an interesting way."