An Interview with J. Walter Thomspon Worldwide about the new Nespresso campaign

Nespresso talk about their new campaign. But where is George?


We would like to thank Gianluca Ruggiero, Global Business Strategist, J. Walter Thompson WorldwideJacqui Stecher, Senior Designer, and Rob Bovington & Stephen Webley, Creatives, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide who took the time to answer our questions.


AdForum: What was the original brief?

Gianluca: After the expiration of their patent, Nespresso was facing compatible capsules competition on its own platform, sometimes from coffee Brands that have a long history in the category and a powerful heritage. When it comes to expertise and knowledge about coffee, Nespresso is an undisputed leader, but it has been always too shy about telling its sustainable quality story.

Over time, communication has been focusing on positioning Nespresso as a lifestyle Brand. The time had come to start telling the facts and the attitude that make Nespresso the provider of unique coffee experiences, while being sustainable both from an environmental and business perspective.

At the same time, the campaign had to keep up with the luxury positioning of Nespresso. The challenge was to find new languages that could express the Brand’s iconic status in the space of new, contemporary luxury.

AdForum: What inspired you to approach the campaign in this way?

Gianluca: We carefully analyzed the process behind the exceptional quality of the Nespresso coffee. We soon realized that we couldn’t reduce this exceptional story to one single aspect – one benefit, one reason-to-believe, one factual discriminator. We understood that at the core of the Nespresso experience there is a fundamental, powerful human truth, that we summarized in the concept “We are the choices we make.

Because every step along the way from the plantations to the cup, Nespresso always make the most uncompromising choices to provide the perfect coffee experience that they have in mind. The terroirs, the crops, the relationship with the farmers, the harvesting techniques they change almost for each single Grand Cru, the different washing, roasting and grinding, the blending and to the different brewing parameters for their latest machines – it’s the sum of all these little choices that make every Nespresso Grand Cru a unique experience. There’s an obsessive aspect in the way they manage the quality of their coffee, a trait that is typical of a Luxury leader – because greatness only comes out of a series of uncompromising choices, one after another.

And not surprisingly, great choices have amazing consequences. There’s always a positive ripple effect when you make the right choices. Similarly, Nespresso’s quality choices caused many good things to happen in the communities where these choices were made. With the help of Nespresso’s agronomists, we extensively studied their methodologies in different continents. Then we went in Colombia to personally interview the farmers of the Jardim community, to understand how their life was impacted by Nespresso’s quality choices. The stories they told us were so compelling that we decided that the farmers themselves had to tell them.

AdForum: How difficult was it to sell the idea to the client?

Gianluca: The client has been very supportive of the idea and the approach from day one. The only challenge (if any) has been to make sure that the creative expression was going to set a new standard for the coffee language. Nespresso is a leading luxury Brand and they influenced coffee communication in the past, so much that every coffee Brand in the world was borrowing their Brand cues – the transparent cup, the dynamic drop, the visible crema... It was time to change the rules of the game again, to set the new standards of luxury coffee communication for the years to come. We worked side by side with the client for months, and Nespresso was incredibly collaborative and open to share all their knowledge in every aspect of the process – from the agronomy to the technology to the design of the perfect blend. It’s been like attending a coffee university for us. We also developed a new strategic framework to ensure that every single Grand Cru, Limited Edition or machine will contribute to build the “Choices” story; this tool helped all of us tremendously to achieve coherence and to structure a complete Content Strategy that will support the campaign for the years to come.”

Jacqui, Rob & Stephen: The biggest challenge was probably authenticity. Normally when telling a story, you want to dramatize certain elements to make the work epic and characters colourful. But with this film, absolute authenticity was the goal, in fact the clients insisted on it.

This brought its own unique set of challenges, like the months spent searching the Colombian coffee regions for real farmers, with real stories and the days spent ensuring the locations, vehicles and wardrobe were all true-to-life. But these constraints allowed us to make a film with heart, humanity and a real sense of place.

AdForum: What did you learn from the experience?

Jacqui, Rob & Stephen: Colombia comes with certain preconceptions - we’ve all seen Narcos. But most of that stuff is well in the past. It’s an amazing country, with stunning geography and the warmest, most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet. And without wanting to sound like a sales pitch, it was genuinely inspiring to see how initiatives like the wet mill that Nespresso are implementing in places like Jardín Colombia, are improving the quality of life for small-coffee communities, not just the quality of their coffee. 

AdForum: What’s the “behind the scenes” story that only you know about – until now?

Jacqui, Rob & Stephen: Someone severely sprained their ankle after the wrap-party in an actual ‘rap’ battle with some of the local youths. It would be unfair to mention Rob Bovington by name, so just put down as ‘one of the team’.