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Martinson Coffee

Have you ever given birth to a turn of the century NYC barista that was so well known for making coffee that it ultimately became known as a cup of Joe? Well, I have…

Every heard the term “cup of Joe”? Well, meet Joe Martinson. This isn’t a storyline. This is the real deal. That term comes from Joe Martinson.

Man I loved this project… from the original mind-blowing idea of personification Joe to casting and then developing all of the creative to bring Joe to life, this was a creatives dream.

Martinson Coffee was a brand that had been sitting on the shelf of client Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee as a staple brand for years. It always did fine. But in reality, it was meant to be one of their premier brands but, over the years, it took a back seat to more exciting white label brand projects like Bob Marley’s, Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s McCafé – all of which I played a part in.

One day, at a meeting, in passing, the client told me about the Martinson brand and I thought to myself (out loud): why are you just sitting on this amazing brand? You own it! Now it’s time for it to own the market (US only) because this story is a marketers dream! Well, the client agreed and Joe was born… erm, re-born.

The persona that we created was succesful in market testing that they transitioned it into packaging, event marketing and more. In fact, you could see Joe on billboards all across the southern states.

Personification Narrative

When you love something, you make it work. No matter what it takes, you just keep going. I got into coffee because I love it – like others enjoy a fine wine or a good cigar – I love coffee.

I was only 16 when I found this new love. I would go down to the NY Port Authority to hand pick my beans, it was all part of the experience. I remember the feeling of hoisting up those heavy, burlap sacks, covered in languages from all around the world – the beans moving around inside like some kind of aromatic little gems. I spent hours in my mother’s kitchen mixing different varieties of the best beans I found, to see what I could do to bring out all the right flavors. Then I would hand it out to the neighbors to enjoy with a little conversation.

In the 20’s, times were tough – we all needed some comfort – and a hot cup of coffee and some conversation provided just that. While my family wasn’t struggling to make ends meet, I also wasn’t the hoity-toity type – I rolled up my sleeves and did whatever I had to do to provide for my family. What I didn’t do was make concessions. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

And, for me, doing it right was about creating something new. Creating something that no one else had ever made. A cup that was completely new to this world. Those beans had never been used before and they’d never be used again. It was an art. It was my art and I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty.

The true art though, was how to recreate that exact cup with beans that weren’t those exact beans… that’s where the love came in. The patience to repeat the process over and over until I got it right. The trial and error to see how many beans I could roast at a time before the quality was lost – and, believe me, there’s a limit. The big companies… they never got that.

Then, the best hotels in the city were looking to serve my coffee. That’s what love gets you.

People said NYC was a tough place to live. I didn’t think so. Like any place, you just need to know how the heart of the city beats. It’s got a tempo and when you find a way to match it, it’s perfect harmony. Kinda like people and my coffee.