Behind the Brand: Julius Meinl

The coffee brand's activity aims to reignite the world's passion for poetry.

Behind the Brand: Julius Meinl's experiential activity
Behind the Brand: Julius Meinl's experiential activity

Cultural Ambassador

Coffee company Julius Meinl launched in Vienna, Austria in 1862, and today the family-owned business plays in multiple markets.

Despite this global footprint, Carina Leb, international marketing manager at Julius Meinl, says the company remains true to its roots. "We see ourselves as ambassadors of Viennese coffee house culture, which is very famous and popular around the world.

"It's important that we bring this culture to life, because we want to inspire people," she says.

The brand has opted for the medium of poetry to mark its foray into experiential marketing, which, Leb explains, reflects the company's heritage.

"It links perfectly with our history. Writers, actors and even politicians frequented the Viennese coffee houses; they saw these places as their extended living room," she says. "They were really inspirational for people; a lot of famous literature was written partly in the coffee houses."

Forgotten Artform 

Leb explains that Julius Meinl is passionate about raising the profile of poetry among modern consumers. "Our mission is basically to say that we want to make the world a better place through poetry.

We want to bring the medium to life and inspire people, because we feel it is something that has been forgotten."

This way of thinking led Julius Meinl to devise its Pay With A Poem initiative, which was initially piloted in Romania and Croatia in 2013. The first global campaign launched last year, and saw 27 countries take part.

"It allows customers to pay for their coffee or tea with a handwritten poem at participating locations on World Poetry Day. It's very meaningful, and different to what other brands are doing," says Leb.

The campaign has grown much faster than anticipated, and the brand feels that this reaffirms its marketing strategy.

"It has shown us that we are doing exactly the right thing; the campaign is unique and offers consumers the chance to actively participate," Leb explains.

"It's different to a TV spot or print campaign where we tell consumers what to do - here they can actively experience the brand."

Julius Meinl teamed up with agency Devries Slam for the 2016 campaign, which involved participation from 34 countries, including the brand's key markets of Austria, Croatia, Romania, Italy and Russia, as well as the UK, United States, Australia and China.

This time around the company enlisted the assistance of a global brand ambassador, which, according to Leb, has been a great move.

"(Poet) Robert Montgomery is the perfect match for this campaign, because he shares the same mission as us: he also wants to take poetry onto the streets," she says.

Branching Out

Now that the global success of the Pay With A Poem initiative has been confirmed, Julius Meinl plans to delve further into the world of experiential.

"Pay With A Poem is our hero event that we want to build upon each year. We want to make it bigger and reach more people with it, and invest more back into the community," says Leb.

With this in mind, the brand opted to extend the life of its most recent Pay With A Poem event, which took place in March, by erecting a tree installation coined Poet-Tree: A Thousand Voices within London's Finsbury Avenue Square.

"This year we wanted to do something with the poems that were submitted as part of the campaign, so we came up with the idea to bring a number of them from all over the world to London, in the hope that they would inspire people once again," says Leb.

"We hung the poems from the tree so that people could easily take one. We also had some pencils and empty pieces of paper for those who wanted to share their own poems."

Similar activity followed in other countries, too. "A bridge in Italy was completely covered in poems, and cafes in various countries published books of their best poems for customers to read," Leb recalls.

She reveals that Julius Meinl is teaming up with Montgomery again for additional activity later in the year. "Our next event will take place in the autumn, and will link to World Coffee Day on 1 October," she explains.

"It is very important for us to do these kinds of experiential and below-the-line campaigns, because we really want to touch people directly."


Carina Leb, International marketing manager, Julius Meinl

1 - Has worked at Julius Meinl since October 2014

2 - Is responsible for the company's global brand communication

3 - Manages a team of two

4 - Prior to Julius Meinl, she worked at Procter & Gamble for six years

5 - Has worked on brands such as Braun, Max Factor and Febreze in global markets.

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