Best known for its popular early ‘80s tagline “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up”, Folgers coffee is unveiling a new campaign today (Jan. 31) with a lot of fanfare — literally.
To reinforce its reputation as a brand leader and simultaneously bolster its connection with next-generation coffee drinkers, Folgers commissioned the Joan Jett & the Blackhearts classic “Bad Reputation” as the theme song for its perception-shattering campaign. Headquartered in New Orleans, the 170-year-old firm — part of The J.M. Smucker Co. — also reached out to local favorite and Blue Note Records artist Trombone Shorty. In addition to imbuing the track with some energetic NOLA flavor, the Grammy-nominated musician, his brass bandmates and local Folgers employees also appear in the commercial. Being deployed across TV, online video, digital display and streaming audio, the Folgers campaign follows last year’s pairing between fellow Smucker brand Jif with rap icon/spokesperson Ludacris.
“This is a highly competitive market when it comes to Gen Z and millennials,” says Geoff Tanner, chief commercial & marketing officer at The J.M. Smucker Company, of the Folgers campaign. “:We have found through consumer insights that they often dismiss the brand without trying it because they think it’s their grandma’s coffee. That’s why we didn’t shy away from the misperceptions; instead we overtly addressed them head-on with this new campaign.”
BCL Entertainment helped foster the organic pairing of Folgers with spokesperson Trombone Shorty. “It was a no-brainer to address the misconception head-on, in a bold and unapologetic fashion, while remaining authentic to the brand and its roots,” says BCL Entertainment founder/CEO Bettie Levy. “Using Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ ‘Bad Reputation’ shows consumers and non-consumers alike that the brand is ready to change the mindset. Through this campaign, we hope to show viewers Folgers’ pride in the heart of their coffee, as well as the community behind it.”
Recently announced as part of the lineup for the upcoming New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Trombone Shorty also spoke with Billboard about his “gumbo” approach to reworking “Bad Reputation,” why he will always rep for his hometown and what’s next for him musically.
How did you give a New Orleans feel to Jett’s “Bad Reputation”?
I’ve heard the song on the radio and in movies, of course. And my little sister and I watch wrestling and “Bad Reputation” was Ronda Rousey’s theme song. But she [Joan] actually sent me the original stems from the original recording. So my band and I played underneath the original vocals. We tried to get it as close to the original as possible, but of course there’s some rhythm that we use in New Orleans. Then I listened to see how we could add the brass elements. After we put down the rhythm section, which was the most important thing, we added the brass — kind of tailgating or tap dancing around the main vocal. I just wanted to make [the song] a big thing like you’re on the streets of New Orleans but on top of this punk rock thing; to just mix it up like a gumbo.
Why is it important for you to rep for your hometown and Folgers, which has deep roots in the community?
Without New Orleans there’s no me. I was born into the music here. [Because] of all the people who have taught and helped me, it’s just a job of mine to keep that going and show others around the world. This is a different type of city and not like anywhere else. So we have an obligation to represent the city and the magic that it creates. A lot of people that live here probably didn’t know that Folgers is here. To be able to represent in an ad as big as this, and with both of us being from New Orleans, it’s just a wonderful collaboration with a lot of energy. I hadn’t seen some of my friends that are playing in the commercial’s brass band during the pandemic. So when you see us approaching each other and smiling, there’s no acting there. It was a very spiritual thing and the cameras just happened to be there to capture that moment. I actually taught them the song on the spot so we could party on the street the way we normally would in a second-line parade.
Now that the campaign has launched, is there a new album or tour in the works?
I have an album that’s already done, which will be announced soon. I’ve been in the studio every day making new music. It was tough during the pandemic since we couldn’t see and play with each other. Now that things are a little easier, we’ve been getting in there to create some things. We also have a tour planned, the Voodoo Threauxdown. This will be our second such tour; the last one was in 2018. This time it will include Big Freedia, Tank & the Bangas, The Soul Rebels and Cyril Neville, among others. Once again, it’s me and some of my friends coming together to represent New Orleans.