Iconic Ads: Coffy Bite – The Argument Continues

The hook, was to get people curious on why the whole world was arguing about the Coffy Bite taste. So the argument continues

In the mid-90s, Parry’s Confectionery wanted to launch a coffee flavoured toffee.

JWT (HTA then) was tasked to create a brand.

The Brand Name and the Brief

Indu Balachandran – the creative director was leading the team to help get a name. She says “When asked to think up brand names for an exciting coffee-flavoured sweet, I wrote many alternatives but pushed for ‘Coffy Bite’ thinking I had a ready-made idea for a campaign (people ‘biting’ coffee as they’ve been told by killjoys like doctors to stop drinking coffee…some such thing).”

However, things changed once the whole creative team went to Parry’s office to taste the product. Her colleague said, “Well, it tastes more like toffee’. Indu said “Never! It tastes like coffee!’ ‘No Toffee! No, coffee!’ And they argued on their way back to the office, and Lo! There was the core idea for the Coffy Bite Argument series! 

So, the team had created their brief accidentally. The hook was to get people curious on why the whole world was arguing about the taste… and then the multiple situations possible and the argument continued…

Sonia Bahl wrote the first script – an argument between father and son, Namita Roy Ghose & Subir Chatterjee (White Light) directed the film – and many following that. All ended with the unique signature jingle.

And the idea worked and sales boomed. 

Indu was getting applications from copywriters wanting a job at JWT – as they had some terrific ‘argument’ scripts for Coffy Bite!

Battle of Parrysburgh – Film

One of the most famous Coffy Bite films was the ‘Battle of Parrysburgh’. 

Indu has a very interesting anecdote – “We were filming the epic ‘Battle of Parrysburgh’ with White Light – staging a huge actual war between the red army (France) and the blue army (England). We cast actual Englishmen from Bombay’s British Embassy.”

Indu had the boring and exacting task of picking up a fat humourless officer on the day of the shoot and taking him to Famous Studio. But en route, he showed no interest when Indu tried to explain the ‘idea’ and his role. He got into his general’s uniform, walked in and saw the gigantic Hollywood-like setting of the war scene, smoking canons, wounded soldiers and all, and went into complete shock. 

The script: two Generals of opposing armies declare a truce, stopping a bloody war and sign a peace agreement. They celebrate amicably with a bowl of Coffy Bite. But have differing views on its taste. “Mmmm, Coffee. No, it’s Toffee!” The argument escalates, and War is declared again! 

As she recounts “Anyway, our grumpy actor got so hot under his collar, and mid-shoot, declared our whole idea to be utterly stupid – ‘why would war break out over a damn piece of candy?’ And nearly walked off the sets! Turns out he hated advertising too… Some ice-cold coffee we hastily gave him may have cooled him down, and we completed our film. Probably the most popular one of all in the series eventually!”

Extensions

Beyond films, the JWT team had a great time taking the brand idea forward. Indu says “The tag line lent itself to hilarious extensions, from pictorial jokes of arguments that landed in divorce courts, to annual events that Parry’s sponsored like Inter-school Debates (another word for Arguments:-).” The toffee was meant for kids and adults.

In one of Coffy Bite’s sponsored school debate finals, the chief guest was the much-respected Election Commissioner TN Seshan, known to argue fiercely, and win! A good match for brand personality, Seshan joked about his argumentative nature and won much applause.

Not surprisingly, working on this brand was among the most fun Indu ever had in the Creative Department of JWT Chennai.

PL NOTE – Indu has written most of this blog. My contribution is next to nothing!

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