Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marilyn Monroe and Mr. Coffee

Well we may never know what Marilyn monroe drank for coffee or Mr. Coffee, Joe Dimagio because it is hard to ask someone who has gone on to their after life if they drank coffee let alone what kind of coffee was their favorite. I'm assuming Mr. Coffee used a Mr. Coffee maker in his house but Mr. English Coffee Roasting Co. wasn't established until the early 1990's so I'm sure he wasn't drinking Mr. English Coffee in his Mr. Coffee Maker. No matter how many times I correct people they continue to call me Mr. Coffee even though the name of my co. is Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. I've also been referred to as Mr. English and The Coffee Guy.

The following article details a little information about the history of Mr. Coffee (Joe Dimagio) and a little bit about his relationship with Marilyn Monroe. For any those of you who don't know of Joe Dimagio he was one of the worlds greatest baseball players of all time and I like to think a really great person as well.

Joe DiMaggio had been out of baseball for nearly 25 years when he
stepped onto Madison Avenue. But with his distinctive voice, handsome
face and stylish personality, the Yankee Clipper proved as adept at
pitching a product as he was at hitting and catching a baseball.

DiMaggio, who died Monday at age 84, played a lead role with the
star-studded New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951. But the celebrated
center fielder limited his commercial career to endorsement deals with
Mr. Coffee and New York’s former Bowery Savings Bank. Later in life, the
Hall of Famer rebuffed products such as hair dye, joking to one hopeful
deal maker that he didn’t have any dentures in need of cementing.

Just as DiMaggio knew which pitches he could hit, he knew which
products to pitch. Whether praising the savings bank’s security or
lauding Mr. Coffee’s brew as the “best I’ve ever tasted,” he hit an
advertising home run with consumers.

He was an athlete who commanded respect instead of just attention,”
said Jed Pearsall, president of Performance Research, a Newport,
R.I.-based sports marketing consulting firm. “Spokesmen were more trusted
than they now are … and people believed in his products. Now, though,
consumers are cynical enough to know that athletes don’t really care
about what they’re endorsing.”

DiMaggio didn’t invent the role of athlete as pitchman. Baseball
players had been pitching everything from cigarettes to automobiles. When
DiMaggio hooked up with Mr. Coffee and the Bowery bank in the early
1970s, football star Joe Namath was selling pantyhose and Miller Brewing
Co. had begun recruiting retired jocks for its memorable “Tastes great,
less filling” campaign.

But he’s credited with single-handedly making Mr. Coffee synonymous
with coffee makers and helping Bowery defend its New York turf against
deep-pocketed competitors. And DiMaggio had an instinct for associating
himself with brands consumers could trust.

Joe DiMaggio could have done all the commercials in the world,” said
Mr. Coffee founder and former chairman Vincent Marotta. “But if the
product wasn’t any good, it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Seal of Approval

With 10 American League pennants, nine World Series titles and the
eye-popping 56-game hitting streak, DiMaggio had secured his reputation
with older fans already enamored of the first-generation American who
served in the armed forces during World War II. But baseball couldn’t
explain the hero worship by consumers too young to have seen him play.
His status as living legend, marketers say, was cemented by a highly
publicized marriage to Marilyn Monroe, a mention in Ernest Hemingway’s
The Old Man and the Sea” and a serendipitous lyric in the movie
soundtrack for “The Graduate.”

Between Miss Monroe and Mrs. Robinson, this guy was instantaneously
able to cut through the [advertising world] clutter and grant that
instant, Good Housekeeping seal of approval to the coffee maker and the
savings bank,” said Martin Blackman, president of a New York-based
company that has arranged hundreds of sports-celebrity endorsements.

The retired ballplayer who went on television in 1973 to pitch the new
Mr. Coffee machines became Mr. Coffee to many consumers. DiMaggio’s
reputation gave the upstart coffee-machine company from Cleveland the
credibility needed to challenge percolator makers like General Electric
and Proctor-Silex.

The commercials worked because they were believable, Blackman said:
If it had been a vacuum cleaner instead of a coffee maker, no way in the
world would consumers accept as fact that Joe DiMaggio vacuums his own
living room floor.”

Unlike today’s high-stakes sports marketing game, there were no
business agents on hand when Marotta and DiMaggio sat down for lunch at
San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel early in 1973. Marotta had flown to the
West Coast from Cleveland on the spur of the moment to see if DiMaggio
would sign on as celebrity spokesman. “I talked and Joe ate,” Marotta
recalled. “When I got all finished, lo and behold, he puts up his hand
and says, ‘I believe in it.’ I was dumbfounded. I put out my hand and he
shook it.”

DiMaggio went into a television studio once a year to produce a half a
dozen commercials that ran on network television. Mr. Coffee poured $15
million into the annual advertising campaign. DiMaggio “made more money
on Mr. Coffee in a year than he made playing ball,” Marotta said.

The money was well spent. DiMaggio’s on-screen style was decidedly
wooden, but the Yankee Clipper won over consumers. “Mr. Coffee became a
household word, almost like Hoover,” said Marotta, who sold his Mr.
Coffee interest to an investment firm in 1987. It is now owned by Sunbeam.

DiMaggio blended stories about baseball and banking during a 20-year
span to deliver the same kind of credibility for Bowery Savings, a
long-standing institution that disappeared during the 1990s savings and
loan consolidation. “Here’s a New York bank that’s trying to project
itself as a classy, secure institution,” Blackman said. “And … New
York’s supreme guy puts his money in the Bowery. It worked like a charm.”

Protecting the Legend

In today’s advertising world, deceased actors dance in commercials for
vacuum cleaners and Babe Ruth’s estate earns more than the star earned
while alive. The DiMaggio family undoubtedly will be approached by
marketers eager to use his good name to pitch products.

Mr. English Coffee-Japan

The death of a man who clearly savored his privacy “doesn’t diminish
his role in the world or his value … to people interested in using
his image,” said Mark Roesler, chairman of CMG Worldwide, an
Indianapolis-based firm that represents the estates of famous figures
like Monroe, Ruth and James Dean. Over the years, DiMaggio’s relationship
with Monroe has prompted “lots of interest” among marketers, Roesler
said, “but we’ve always been very careful to respect the privacy that Mr.
DiMaggio wanted in that regard.”

Blackman is betting that surviving family members will maintain the
privacy that the Yankee Clipper enjoyed during life. “If I were
DiMaggio’s lawyer, knowing his personality, I wouldn’t allow the use of
the name for anything,” Blackman said. “And that’s just going to add to
the myth.”

Mr. English Coffee-Japan

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