Office Workers Find Ads Right Under Their Noses

Discussion
Apr 09, 2009

By George Anderson

For millions of Americans, the workday doesn’t
officially begin until they have their morning coffee. As a colleague’s
instant message recently said, "I’m satisfactorily caffeinated. Let’s
get to work."

According to FreePaperCups, a company that
distributes free paper cups (imagine that) with ad messages to businesses
around the U.S., more than 52 million Americans drink office Joe every
day.

The FreePaperCups concept is remarkable
in its simplicity. As the current Springwise newsletter points out, "Advertisers get their brands in front
of consumers and business decision makers in offices, conference rooms,
break rooms and corporate dining facilities across the nation; companies
get to eliminate the expense of buying the cups themselves; and participating
coffee services get to offer more competitive pricing."

Discussion Questions: Does the FreePaperCups
low-tech concept hold promise in an era where increasing emphasis is
put on digital media, social networks, etc.? Do you see any downsides?

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Office Workers Find Ads Right Under Their Noses"


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David Zahn
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

The idea is to get in front of the prospect or customer–there are no style points awarded for doing it in the most elaborate, technological or advanced way. The reward is increased sales. Putting the message in front of people for longer periods of time, consistently, and continuously is a good way to go. It is a terrific idea.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

I offer the same comments regarding advertising on something as complex as social media as paper cups. The ultimate idea is to contact one-on-one with your customer. If the paper cups do that efficiently, then “Bravo”! But, one always has to be aware of the message, the environment, and how it fits on the cup.

Phil Rubin
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

It was Einstein, I believe, who said (paraphrasing here) that brilliance lies in the ability to make simple those things that are otherwise complex.

This is such a concept in that it solves a number of problems for:
– companies that want to cost effectively provide coffee;
– employees who want to (and need to) drink it;
– coffee companies who wan to be competitive.

The only problem this doesn’t necessarily solve is the waste of paper cups that are thrown away.

So while this might not be attractive for green companies, it’s worth remembering that you can build a nice business without having to sell to everyone!

Ben Ball
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

As long as computers keep coming with that built-in coffee cup holder inside, we will continue to need coffee cups in the office.

Kevin Graff
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

Great idea! Even better because the ‘customer’ is actually waking up while drinking their coffee and seeing the ad. Take a look at how those catchy quotes on the Starbucks cups are continually read and absorbed.

Decidedly low tech…and high impact!

Mel Kleiman
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

Sounds good the first time around. But the question is, who controls the message? What happens when the coffee cup has a message that the customer may not agree with? The Burger King office gets a cup with a Subway message? If the coffee does not taste right or we get poor service from the coffee company, does that affect the brand that is advertised? Is the selling of the advertising going to cover the ability to provide free cups?

I am not going to run out and invest my money in this one. Now I do love the idea of Bathroom advertising. Maybe a bathroom cleaning company would charge less if they could hang ads on bathroom walls.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
8 years 10 months ago
This points up the correct definition of media: whatever mediates between what you want to sell, and the people you want to sell to. Of course, electronic media has evolved far beyond the radio, (or telegraph?) but most “media” in the world always has been and always will be non-electronic. I happen to have on my desk a small memento, advertising a company that is not relevant to my life today. It is a very nice little marble paper weight, with a classy seal of the American Association of Clinical Chemists on the top. The date is 1972! (I am a board certified clinical chemist–from a former life.) Now, the point of this is that this paperweight is just too nice to throw in the trash, it’s small and innocuous, and has survived many an office move. So about 25 years ago, I began studying other people’s offices to see what they might have around like this. And that was the origin of my long time affinity to advertising specialties. I didn’t go for paper… Read more »
W. Frank Dell II
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

Advertising is just getting your name and message in front of current and potential customers.

Just like with personal relationship selling, the world is changing. Clearly, internet advertising is growing, but it has yet to replace other forms of customer communication. As newspapers fold and the primary TV networks lose market share, advertisers must adjust. Cable advertising has provided greater advertising segmentation, just as the internet has.

The real issue is, where are your target customers? As they move to social networks and away from radio and TV, one must adjust. Keep in mind, this will take years, not months.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
8 years 10 months ago
To me the whole game is message-to-market match–so I’d want to target my coffee cups with a relevant offer. Which means I need to be able to segment pretty carefully–a coffee service’s full run isn’t going to be nearly granular enough. But if I can buy the IT departments only–probably easier in Silicon Valley, Research Triangle, NC and perhaps the Maryland Heights area in St. Louis–then maybe we have something. Or if I can buy the law firms or the investment firms, but I doubt I’d want both for the same client. Nevertheless, I can see driving a coffee drinker to a short online video…and then getting his/her permission to start a longer relationship…. I wonder what the graphic restrictions are, if any, and I sure hope they have either a magic piece of software that will take a rectangular layout from normal print-production tools and stretch it into that odd rounded-wedge shape they need to wrap it around a coffee cup–or foolproof instructions on how to make the 3D functions in software I already… Read more »
Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
8 years 10 months ago

This is a recycling nightmare! Do advertisers really want people seeing a pile of cups in the garbage can with their brand logo on the side of the cup? People won’t understand that the cups are from an outside company. They will assume that the advertiser itself has supplied the cups, and they will think that it is a huge waste of pulp. Which it is!

This is not an idea that we would recommend, and I’m not certain that this will gain a significant amount of traction.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

From a marketing and increasing-exposure standpoint, this is a brilliant idea. From an ecological point of view, it is a disaster. And from increasing the visual pollution in the world argument; invading my contemplative, no distraction zone, I wish the idea never happened!

Devangshu Dutta
Guest
Devangshu Dutta
8 years 10 months ago

Paper cups – with ads or without – will get thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper and last month’s magazine. This is another form of broadcast advertising whose effectiveness needs to be measured and proven, and it’s guilty (of waste) unless proven innocent.

It is invasive to a great degree in a space that should be uncluttered with any messages other than what are relevant to the organization’s own business.

Will it really contribute anything significant to the companies who won’t be spending on the paper cups, or to the brands that do spend to advertise on them? Or will it just detract from both?

What might be next – co-branded letterheads perhaps?

Lest I sound too much of a cynic, let me offer up a thought: maybe the government should put a new line item in the budget – “Grant for ceramic coffee cups for offices to carry environmental and fiscal-consciousness messages”.

A caffeine-laced economic stimulus – now that should get the economy going again!

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