Today a press release from Eight O’Clock Coffee announced a new marketing campaign for the all-but-forgotten brand: Eight O’Clock(R) Coffee “Gets Real” about Coffee in New Advertising Campaign; Nearly 150 Year Old Company Announces Results of Consumer Taste Test. The new marketing campaign takes aim squarely at the Starbucks set — on a mission to convince Starbucks lovers that they’re paying a lot more for a brand name of arguably lesser quality.

Eight O’Clock is even playing the coffee snob card — having prepared a commercial TV spot featuring an avid coffee drinker, with the scientific name of “Java Snobicus,” who goes to great lengths to find the perfect cup of gourmet coffee. Eight O’Clock is even reaching for that pathetic marketing agency nod towards hip modernity: “your product will even have its own blog”.

This press release also coincides with the announcement of a study showing that consumers prefer Eight O’Clock to Starbucks in a blind taste test. (They don’t say “Brand X” anymore, do they?) This is where things get a little interesting, though not unusual. This study, which we otherwise know nothing about, is credited to Tragon Corporation. Who, with the simple research of visiting their Web page, we learn performs “custom market research”:

Do you have a product development or marketing challenge? We’ve helped businesses in diverse industries meet their challenges and successfully launch or reintroduce products, from sportswear to high technology equipment, food and beverage to pharmaceuticals and homecare. We can do the same for you.

In other words, Eight O’Clock Coffee came to Tragon with a problem and a cashier’s check. In response, Tragon designed a blind taste test they could use as part of a campaign they helped develop to reintroduce an otherwise forgetten brand.

It’s no wonder why we know nothing about this 2006 study. Apparently Tragon has been fine-tuning the methods for this study for years — given their research cited on the Eight O’Clock corporate Web site from 2004 that showed Starbucks clearly leading the Eight O’Clock brand in blind taste tests of the “strong” coffee segment: Join Eight O’Clock Coffee’s Unique and Valued Position in the Coffee Marketplace! (pdf file).

The Coffee Wars are getting more interesting all the time.


UPDATE: August 9, 2006
Just to prove how interesting things get, Eight O’Clock Coffee’s ownership has since switched to India: The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : Tata acquires Eight O’Clock Coffee.