Coffee-loving star Rico Rodriguez brews up an Ad Impact Award for Caffe Aurora

A child promoting the joys of coffee might not initially seem like a good idea for a campaign, but Caffe Aurora’s ‘Stop Searching’, which follows Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez as he hunts for the perfect espresso, has caught the attention of the masses and taken out the December round of Colmar Brunton’s Ad Impact Award. 

Caffé Aurora, which is part of the Australian-owned Cantarella Bros empire (trading as Vittoria), enlisted the 15-year-old Rodriguez AKA Manny, who is well-known for his love of espresso in the show, to increase the recognition of the brand. 

Cantarella Bros. general manager of sales and marketing Rolando Schirato said in a release back in November that, in line with the brand’s growth and market trends, it was time to put a face to the brand.

“In the past ten years, our marketing spend has focused heavily on the strength and heritage of the brand,” he says. “We have loyal customers and we have secured our position in the market by providing quality products and executing simple campaigns. Rico has mass audience appeal, which we believe will resonate a broad cross section of the market.”

The campaign, created in-house, was spearheaded by four TVCs that were shot in Los Angeles by director Michael Spiller of RSA Films, the production company owned by Ridley Scott.

The campaign also included print, digital, outdoor and in-store. 

“We are thrilled that Rico Rodriguez would throw his weight behind the Caffé Aurora brand,” he says. “The connection between Rico and coffee is one that I think Australians and New Zealanders will really enjoy, just as much as we have putting it together.”

Colmar Brunton senior account manager Harriet Dixon says the campaign blended humour with fame to come up with a winning formula. 

“The campaign has performed well on all three performance measures, with branding being especially prominent for Caffe Aurora. Product attributes were subtly woven into the script during the campaign, ensuring that the ads were able to deliver new information about the brand and help to entice people to want to try the coffee. Perhaps not the most expected aficionado to be chosen by Caffe Aurora, but Rico Rodriguez has certainly delivered for the brand.”

The Cantarella Bros business was established in 1947 by two Italian brothers, Orazio and Carmelo Cantarella, who recognised a need for more European foods in Australia. 

Current chief executive Les Schirato, who is recognised as Australia’s ‘Coffee King’, introduced Vittoria Coffee into supermarkets at a time when coffee meant an instant beverage, and espresso was considered too strong for the Australian palate. 

As it says on the website: “They just laughed at me and said, ‘Australians will never drink strong coffee – you’re wasting your time’. In fact, I got kicked out of every supermarket in Australia.” Now the company is the largest pure coffee company in Australia, Vittoria Coffee is Australia’s number one pure coffee brand and the category is worth over $135 million.  

A few years back, Vittoria employed Al Pacino to be face of the brand in a campaign directed by Academy Award winner Barry Levinson, best-known for films such as Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam, Wag the Dog and Sleepers, and also produced by RSA.


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