Omelet Scores Lead on Coffee House Chain

LOS ANGELES After completing several projects for the client, including an ongoing viral campaign, independent Omelet has been named lead agency by the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain.

Chas Hermann, client svp, marketing and strategic alliances, said that although he’s only been with the company for a few months, it took just two meetings to convince him to award Omelet a bigger role.

Before turning to project work, the Los Angeles-based chain had been with Interpublic Group’s Daily & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif.

Frank Lucero, senior designer and art director, has been assigned lead creative duties, said Ryan Fey, Omelet co-founder and partner.

The first work of the fall campaign, which Hermann described as “episodic” in character, is expected in the next few weeks. “We’re changing [marketing] direction,” Hermann said. “When I got here, the marketing was very product-centric, whereas it’s really about the experience.” The fall campaign, more attuned “to the customer mind-set” and largely in-store, guerilla and viral, should begin in September, he said.

Hermann said the episodic approach involves authentic storytelling creative that not only changes thematically, but also avoids trying to convince customers to, for instance, buy the latest drink. He said the CBTL crowd frequents the stores five to 15 times a month and that “to beat them to death, slamming them with what they should be drinking, is disrespectful. I’m a big believer in less is more. I like to let the customers apply themselves.”

“Omelet is into the ‘big idea’ first, instead of shoving advertising at x, y and z,” said Fey.

Hermann said a brand relaunch of the chain, now approaching 600 stores in 17 countries, is slated for next year. A former CPA who worked at several Hollywood studios as well as competitor Starbucks, Hermann described the atmospheric differences between the chains as “VIP tent [Starbucks] versus backstage pass [CBTL].”

CBTL spends about $500,000 annually in measured media, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. “Sensible marketing doesn’t require a lot of media dollars,” Hermann said.

Omelet’s first project for CBTL over a year ago involved still-watched viral videos suggesting that college pranksters had stolen their sleeping roommate’s CBTL mascot outfit (a giant smiling Mr. Ice Blended cup) to perform embarrassing public acts (such as humping a lamp pole and accosting passersby) to get him fired. In other videos, the roommates send out teams to tackle, harass and “arrest” him at work. The videos have gotten tens of thousands of views on YouTube and a microsite, as well as coverage on CNN.