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Instant coffee sales in Saudi Arabia have been increasing year-on-year. As a complement to coffee, Coffee-mate volumes were expected to increase too, but didn’t. In two of its most important markets, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, Coffee-mate sales had been stagnant from 2012-2015.  

The brand had two challenges:  

Create new interest in a low-involvement category, coffee creaming. When consumers whiten their coffee, they reach for milk without a second thought. It needed to bring some new excitement to Coffee-mate to create relevance among coffee drinkers. 

Demonstrate Coffee-mate’s product advantages over milk (tastier, smoother and creamier coffee) to persuade people used to whitening with milk to take a second look at Coffee-mate. 

Everyday life in Saudi Arabia is getting more stressful. Commutes are getting longer, the lunch hour (which for some used to last up to three hours) is getting shorter, housing prices are rising…  

Agency MEC conducted research within the target to understand their tension-points. What it found was that people in general (themselves included) tend to over-react (negatively, and unnecessarily) in many trying everyday situations. But in hindsight, they realise that they really could have reacted more positively. A colleague spills coffee on you; it isn’t the end of the world. You wife shrinks your favourite shirt; life could be worse.  

The insight was that no matter how annoying something might seem, how you react to it can make all the difference. A positive attitude is sometimes all it takes to turn things around.  


With the exception of tactical in-store promos and price discounts, there had been no brand communication since 2012. Despite its dominance of the category, Coffee-mate’s sales had been stagnating for several years. 

It wanted to speak again to the young Arabs (24-35), middle class. They’ve married recently, or have young families. In Saudi Arabia the women tend to stay at home; the men work full-time. Family is still the main priority, but a tougher economic climate means that they are becoming more concerned about their careers, and feel increasingly stressed by their busy lives. 

This is a consumer that enjoys a creamy cup of coffee. While people start their day with a cup of coffee to wake them up, people in the region want to be “eased” into the day…rather than shaken awake. 

#BeSmooth was brought to life with a product truth: Coffee-mate cuts the “bitterness” of black coffee, and the brand invited the audience to do the same with everyday “bitter” situations, in a light-hearted and humourous tone of voice. 

The creative was based on three everyday characters that the audience can relate to: 

 The newly married man, who discovers many annoying (yet endearing) traits about his wife 
 The easy-going employee and his not so-easy-going boss 
 The optimistic taxi-driver who deals with difficult passengers all day long. 

Through it all, the heroes remain cool…and remind us, “Life can be tough, you just need to be smooth”. MEC created the films in different dialects: two in Lebanese and one in Saudi, to cater to the two leading markets. 


The agency brought the campaign alive through “Everyday situations” that aggravate us but we try to be “smoother”. MEC innovatively used YouTube pre-roll skip button, Radio & outdoor targeting work commute and Digital banners during work hours. 

It complemented this with engaging outdoor executions -lampposts that became smoother/creamier from one to the next. TV was critical to build scale across the region through high viewership channels where it ran 35-second spots on TV with five second sponsorship bumpers featuring appetising shots used. 

Product integration in popular digital and TV shows played a key role in dramatising “Be Smooth”. MEC placed the brand in various YouTube shows in Saudi, and popular Lebanese Show “Hayda Haki”, where Coffee-mate played a role in making a rough situation “smoother”. 

On Digital, the campaign came to life through: Long and short format videos across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Pre-rolls on YouTube, Digital banners and Facebook carousel ads. Social media posts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter highlighted stressful situations in life. To avoid repetition, it created unique content pieces that best work for each media touchpoint. Shorter video with more visual storytelling were created for Instagram, special content filmed facing the viewer for pre-rolls, photography of scenes different to that of the TV scene for posts, etc. 

It recruited RJs through Radio sponsorships to ask callers to participate in “stress tests”.  


Sales: H1-2016 volumes are 13% higher than H1 2015 vs. 9% objective.   

Awareness: Grow TOM awareness by +3% each in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, pre vs. post-campaign. Overall scores significantly higher among those exposed to communication vs. unexposed (22% higher in Lebanon, 28% in Saudi). 

- Lebanon: TOM awareness increased significantly from 28% to 48%. 

- Saudi Arabia: TOM awareness was flat. However, increased from 13% to 16% among those who had seen the campaign.  

Objective: Main message take-out “Be Smooth” at least 50% (among those exposed to ad) 

Actual: Core message of Be Smooth was understood. 

- Lebanon: 72% of those who saw the ads said that the message related to “optimism” or “relieves stressful situations” 

- Saudi Arabia: 60% of those who saw the ads said the message related to “optimism”, “calms the mind” or “relieves difficult situations” 

Digital views: A total of +20 million videos views across YouTube / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Daily Motion. 

The campaign had an 85% positive sentiment across all social media. 

Sources: NESCAFÉ internal data / IPSOS Creamer Brand Health Tracker August 2016 / Nielsen Retail Audits / Digital Metrics

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Brand Owner:
Drinks (non-alcoholic)
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
February - May 2016
Media Channel:
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  • FMAs shortlisted

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