What Is Nitro Cold Brew? Starbucks and Bill Nye School You on Today’s Trendiest Coffee

Through art and science, the chain is ramping up awareness of what's on tap this summer

bill nye starbucks nitro cold brew ad campaign
Bill Nye helps explain the science behind nitro cold brew in Starbucks' new campaign. Starbucks
Headshot of Mitch Reames

As many parts of North America and Europe deal with a record-melting heat wave, demand for cold coffee has only been growing. That is especially true for nitro cold brew. As one of the trendiest coffee drinks on the market, nitro cold brew has been a popular choice to cool down in the hot weather.

That said, there’s still quite a bit of consumer confusion about what nitro cold brew is—and how it differs from iced coffee or cold brew. To help close this awareness gap, Starbucks today released “Whoa, Nitro,” a new campaign promoting the science and sensory experience behind the company’s nitro cold brew.

To distill these lessons into ad-friendly servings, Starbucks enlisted the help of its creative partner, Big Spaceship, who came up with the idea to work with a man who has been breaking down scientific concepts—specifically for people with short attention spans—for nearly three decades. Who else, but Bill Nye the Science Guy?

A staple of the boxy TV on a cart that could make a third grade class go wild, Bill Nye’s science lessons aired on PBS for six years in the 1990s. But the VHS tapes enjoyed a much longer shelf life and endeared Bill Nye to a younger generation. His affable delivery combined with enthusiasm for science made him a natural choice for Starbucks’ campaign.

While Bill Nye gives the science behind the drink, the campaign that will permeate your daily life through podcasts, TV and online videos boasts the quick, swanky style Starbucks ads have become known for. That campaign wants you to know exactly four things: The drink is velvety smooth, sweet without sweetener, creamy without cream and will make you say “woah.”

The ads note the product is in “select stores,” but Starbucks has now implemented the tap system in 80% of stores and says it will be in every Starbucks by the end of the year. Six-second versions of the style-centric ads will be shared across social, with Bill Nye sprinkled in the media mix as well.

The Starbucks Creative Studio led the campaign creation, enlisting Alex Turvey as director, Logan as the production company and Big Spaceship providing creative development of the commercial spots, and Tim K as director, Bullitt as the production company, and Big Spaceship providing creative development of the commercial spots of the Bill Nye content.



Agency: Starbucks Creative Studio
Chief Marketing Officer: Matt Ryan
VP, Creative: Jen Quotson
Creative Director: Ben Nelson
Associate Creative Directors: Marisa Crane, Derek Shimizu, Andy Brawner
Designer: Jamie Jones
Copywriter: Stef Hu
Sr. Creative PM: Lauren Richards

Director: Alex Turvey
Production Company: Logan
Broadcast Producer: Lizzie Goodman, Big Spaceship
Line Producer: Carmen Bosley
VP, Marketing: Linh Peters
Director, Marketing: Tazeen Lalani
Group Marketing Manager: Kerri Newell
Director, Media: Tamani Chio
Group Marketing Manager, Media: Zach Smalley
Marketing Manager, Media: Janna Sewell
Media agency: Spark Foundry


Brand: Starbucks
Director, Social & Content Strategy: Jon Groebner
Associate Creative Director: Austin Tott
Senior Project Manager: Randi Roth
Senior Social Media Strategist: Lauren Nimmons
Senior Campaign Manager: Madeline Moy
Director, Content: Holly Hinton

Agency: Big Spaceship
Chief Creative Officer: Cedric Devitt
SVP, Account Management: Stacey Zimmerman
VP, Strategy: Dan Bort
Group Creative Director: Adam Gloo
Group Director of Content Production: Jordan Makow
Executive Producer, Natalie Moutoussis
Creative Director: Christine Gratton
Associate Creative Directors: Bradford Gilmore, Greg Berman
Account Supervisor: Bibiana Jakubianska
Senior Producer: Ryan Buksar
Editor: Sarah Harvey
Designer: Alex Ling

Production Company: Bullitt
Director: Tim K
President, Executive Producer: Luke R.
Executive Producer: Jenni Sprunger
Line Producer: Brian Etting
Production Designer: Craig Reynolds

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Mitch Reames is a freelance writer based in southern Oregon. A 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon school of journalism and communications, Reames covers a wide range of industry topics including creativity, agencies, brands, esports and more.