Maxwell House: Not In My House

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where coffee is culture, and for some it is more like religion. So, I don’t mind a SNL-like skit where coffee snobs like myself are taken to task. In fact, when it is well done, it can be pretty funny. Portlandia-funny, even.


Do these spots for Maxwell House (made by the Chicago and New York offices of mcgarrybowen) stand up to the Portlandia test? Not quite, but thanks to the well-honed copy, acting and production, the spots are good from a craft standpoint. What I don’t like is the strategic insight, if one can call it that.

Instead of finding a product attribute to work with, we’re “treated” to class coffee warfare, sponsored by a Kraft Foods brand. I’m surprised the characters in the restaurant spot aren’t checking their iPhones and/or having their Prius (complete with an Obama sticker) fetched by the valet.

For sure, I’m not in the target demographic here, but I do wonder if the “everyman” Maxwell House is seeking will drink more cheap coffee in response to these ads.

For comparison, here’s a different attack on pretentiousness, care of Hill Holiday in 2006. And to see how far Maxwell House has, or has not, come in 50 plus years, here’s a spot from the archive:

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today, I'm the founder and creative director at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon. We bring integrated marketing solutions to our clients in healthcare, human services, real estate, fashion, outdoor recreation, and food and beverage.