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Sound an Alarm for Eight O’Clock Coffee, Please

September 4th, 2010 · 6 Comments

By Dooney Tickner

Just returned from my neighborhood Winn Dixie where a register printer-generated coupon informed me to look for the same taste, new look Eight O’Clock Coffee.

I was appalled at the change; I thought the company had decided to retain the venerable red bag.

The TATA Group, owners of the iconic Eight O’Clock Coffee brand, are preparing to release a new package. It features a lot of white (illustrated at popsop.com).  This package leaves one cold, being highly reminiscent of the recent rash of white private label designs, e.g. Dollar General and Walmart’s Great Value.  It deletes the iconic red bag and emasculates the bold, oh so familiar logo around since at least the World War II era.

That little red package has come a long way, from a private label sold only in A&P to a national brand distributed by that company and even featured in some convenience stores and restaurants to a company under the TATA Group.

Despite the vicissitudes of former mother ship A&P, many never lost their taste for this coffee. It had a cult following long before Starbucks was even dreamed of by the first baby boomer. Such a following that A&P set up its Compass Foods subsidiary to wholesale it to other retailers after they withdrew from so much of the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

While I am sure TATA would like to rival J.M. Smucker’s Folger’s and Kraft’s Maxwell House, they can probably keep wishing.  Changing such iconic packaging is almost akin to Coca-Cola’s foolhardy New Coke scheme. The product stands out on the shelf as is, suggesting not only nostalgia to traditional customers, but class, quality, and solidity to new consumers.  I hope this isn’t the death knell for a great brand.  (And, what, heaven forbid, will the line extensions like Bokar look like in these generic bags?) Shame on whoever thinks so little of this classic brand to remake it as a lookalike to trendy private labels.

This is about on the same level as Kraft’s cheesy (no pun intended) redesigns of the mayonnaise and Miracle Whip labels to hip-hop statements and their repackaging of their bottled salad dressings and barbecue sauces in tacky, cheap generic-looking bottles. The barbecue sauce no longer carries the iconic stamped bricks. Even store brands retain the bricks…for now. What are these people thinking?

More branding stories of interest:

Eight O'Clock Coffee Grinds Up Starbucks
Pillowy Marshmallow Fluff from Durkee-Mower
England. Fight for Cadbury and Give Kraft the Augustus Gloop Treatment
Shake N Bake Back to Advertising
Warren: Let's Roll With Life Savers Manufacturing, Not Charity
The Krafty Treatment of Sanka, Hardly Worth Beans

Tags: Grocery

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John // Sep 4, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    I am also very disappointed that Eight O’clock Coffee will be getting a label makeover. What is the point in changing its famous red bag and black Art Deco lettering to some tacky, undistinuished new bag and lettering? It makes no sense and will likely not be easily recognized by legions of Eight O’clock Coffee buyers who may just think this new package is somehow a knock off of genuine Eight O’clock Coffee. Confusion like that often happens when an iconic brand is mucked around with and the results are usually disastrous. I will not buy Eight O’clock Coffee if they change the package and lettering. And I agree that the new awful lettering for Miracle Whip makes the product appear to be dead bargain basement. Bring back the Miracle Whip classic label and lettering.

  • 2 John // Sep 7, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Something I consider to be an important update regarding Eight O’clock Coffee: the product is now controlled by TATA of India. A google search of TATA shows them to be a huge corporation in India and with a rather shadowy reputation in the US, having been involved in class action litigation for reportedly shameful employment practices. I doubt that TATA will have any regard for preserving the classic old American A&P coffee label and red bag for Eight O’Clock.

  • 3 ANDY // Oct 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    WE need to boycot all things TATA. How dare they tamper with perfection. The new bag is so generic, I feel it is chickory and not real coffee.
    What a mistake!!!!

  • 4 Catherine Cremaldi // Oct 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    ARE YOU CRAZY……Changing the Eight O’Clock coffee package. Fire that person or people. The new package is regular “run of the mill”, it will blend in with all the other packaging…..if anything my market or markets are always running short of the product because it is selling….Boy are your sales going to plummet Lets try to save one wonderful package that has been lighting up our lives and taste buds for so many years. The packaging is an icon. I’m upset and will not go crazy trying to find the new package…..but I would love to copy the old package and use it for my own business unfortunately you won’t give it up…..why…..because it’s wonderful and you smart people know it, the new and younger generation should be taught to market well by using the old packaging as an example of success. We want our good old fashioned “stick out in a crowd” kind of packaging and not a copy of everyone else’s, your sales will not increase but advertising will, if thats your problem and it must be otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.
    Catherine Cremaldi
    cat1313@comcast.net

  • 5 Robert McKenna // Apr 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I am 62 and have loved and bought the coffee in the old bag for most of those years. The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. I agree it stuck out and now I find it blends in. My allegiance will too. I have already tried Maxwell House 100% Columbian and it is pretty good. The guys who thought up the change for the coffee were probably the guys fired from Coca Cola when they decided to change that, remember?

  • 6 Old Hickory // Mar 28, 2016 at 10:21 am

    What would you expect from a foreign multinational corporate portfolio; more money than brains. How would they have the foggiest idea of what Americans buy. Too bad, At the end of the day the only losers are us the consumer.

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