Something new and interesting happened to me the other day.
Heard the one about the bank that built a coffee shop? No? That’s because it’s never been done before. Until now. In a move that pushes the boundaries of its brand-consumer engagement and transcends the limits of traditional creative communication, Absa, a member of Barclays, has opened a coffee shop.
But probably most important part of this whole experience: The coffee doesn’t suck!
Cafe Prosper Launches
Prosper Café is a modular pop-up coffee shop created as an extension of the bank’s hugely successful Prosper campaign. The café will be used at Absa’s sponsored events for now, such as the Absa Cape Epic, KKNK and L’Atelier, offering what is essentially Prosper coffee, a premium ground coffee especially blended for Absa.
At its heart, Prosper Café offers consumers an engaging brand experience that stimulates all the senses and that brings the bank’s Prosper philosophy to life.
From a brand perspective, Prosper Café seamlessly integrates all Absa’s marketing activations and promotions, furthers its Prosper messaging, fluidly crosses multiple audiences and can be used by all Absa business units as needed, ensuring a consistent and engaging brand experience, every time.
“We should do banking at coffee shops, not serve coffee at banks”
I heard a Absa Barclays representative mention that eventually, we should do banking at coffee shops, not serve coffee at banks. Quite forward and new thinking! It’s actually exciting when banks actually start talking the language that everyone wants them to talk!
“We have been working with, The Jupiter Drawing Room, for the past year to conceptualise an activation experience that would support our Prosper campaign. We wanted to create an activation that could be used across the bank, that would reinforce the Prosper promise and that would activate all the senses, not just the visual and auditory senses stimulated through traditional media. Not only does Prosper Café meet all these requirements, but as a scalable, mobile pop-up store that comes in a kit format, it’s economical too. Prosper Café is undoubtedly one of our most exciting marketing activations in recent years,” says Lauren Daniel, Brand Manager, Marketing and Corporate Relations, at Absa.
The creative team was highly selective in its choice of coffee as a medium. “Coffee has been bringing people together for centuries, and activating all five senses for just as long. Prosper Café gave us an opportunity to pair this with a space that offered multiple communication contact points. It was an idea that allowed us to connect brand and consumer in a unique, authentic and refreshingly unexpected way,” says Dana Cullinan, Creative Director at The Jupiter Drawing Room.
As a member of Barclays, Absa has ensured the excellence and quality of every aspect of Prosper Café aka: #ProsperCafe/ #CafeProsper. For a start, the premium coffees and red espressos and cappuccinos have been exclusively blended for the café from sustainably sourced 100% Arabica beans.
These beans have been sourced from Honduras, Colombia, Burundi and Uganda, and the tea from local rooibos farms. This reflects the global, African and South African footprint of the Barclays brand.
Then there is its Prosper philosophy, which hinges around stimulating and facilitating the hopes and dreams of ordinary people. Prosper has been incorporated through the coffee beans used (sourced from companies employing transparent, fair trade policies); in the product collateral messaging on coffee cups, stirrers, sugar sachets and complementary chocolates (messaging can be tailored for each business unit ensuring Prosper Café events remain distinctive); and in displaying infographic narratives of the stories of the organisations and people Absa has chosen to work with (Coffee Kids and The Long Mile Coffee Project) on the most prominent piece of coffee shop real estate – the store counter.
Both Coffee Kids and The Long Mile Coffee Project work to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour, helping everybody involved in the process to prosper.
Absa is ensuring that consumers are well and truly immersed in the Prosper experience by providing a range of interactive, value-added facilities that make their lives that little bit easier, such as free wifi, charging stations for mobile devices, and a stimulating children’s play area with chalk board and magnets.
To ensure the Prosper Café experience is authentic, consistent and of the highest standard, the coffees will be brewed and served under the expert leadership of renowned South African coffee personality, Alessandro Morrico, essentially, if there was a grand master of coffee, he would be the one better. Trained in Italy, Morrico is one of only four South African, World Barista Championship certified judges and the only South African to obtain an acclaimed SCAE Coffee Diploma from the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe.
“Absa is a brand that prides itself on being innovative, and is driven by the belief that everything we do should serve a purpose,” concludes Daniel. “It’s this philosophy that guides every decision we make, and Prosper Café offers an exceptional opportunity to showcase these beliefs.”
At the end of the day, I got to have a good conversation with Alessandro, and scored an extra bag of decaf organic coffee. The bags now make my house smell amazing! It’s exciting to see Absa Barclays trying new things and making us question what banks can and should do, like what FNB did so many years ago. But only time will tell if they’re going to follow through with their creativity or revert to their own form of the doldrums.