Will & Co has spent 2021 highlighting its café partners in an outdoor ad campaign that puts them front of mind in the local community when it comes to coffee.
One of the questions Josh Passaro hears most often is ‘who is the Will in Will & Co?’ The head of the Bondi-based coffee roaster tells BeanScene the more important question is: ‘who is the Co?’
“For us, the ‘Co’ are all of our amazing partners that serve our coffee in their cafés. Our foundations are built on strong relationships with café and small business owners and it’s these partnerships that really define Will & Co,” Josh says.
“Many of these partners also become our close friends, and at the end of the day, you always want your friends to be doing well, which is another reason why we continually look for new ways to grow their business and ensure their success.”
Will & Co has put these relationships on full display in 2021 with a wide-reaching ad campaign that positions its café partners front and centre, promoting Will & Co’s café partners in their local areas.
“It’s been an extremely hard year for cafés across the board, so this was our opportunity to give something back, increase our partner’s awareness and visibility, and ultimately drive more traffic to their venues,” Josh says.
“From Currumbin to Canberra and Bondi to Bathurst, we wanted to ensure we reached and drove exposure for all of those venues.”
To accomplish that, Will & Co worked with three major national and regional outdoor media providers for high impact billboard placements, localised artists for large scale murals, and rock posters to drive inner city reach and connect the campaign between the key billboard sites.
“We also worked with three digital publishers to produce a six-part content series bringing a large scale digital element to the campaign,” Josh says. “The outdoor approach let us achieve mass reach through localised café specific messaging, while the digital element will also drive social engagement and provide premium content assets for the cafés. The combined elements have already reached over three million consumers.”
The campaign began in April with the first burst across street furniture like bus shelters and phone boxes across metropolitan Sydney, Canberra, Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the Coffs Harbour coastline, and Northern Rivers NSW. It kicked up a gear in May with billboards in high-traffic areas like Bondi Junction, Edgecliff, and Central Stations as well as outer suburban areas of Sydney and as far south as Ulladulla. The next step involved working with local artists to design murals and artwork in cities like Fortitude Valley, Queensland, and Bondi, New South Wales, and more than 10,000 rock posters going up in inner city areas.
“It’s been one of the most rewarding campaigns I’ve ever worked on, because I’ve been able to see firsthand how much it has benefitted small business owners,” Josh says. “I’ve had café owners calling me at all hours saying they just saw their billboard driving into work, then their customers would come in throughout the day saying the billboard brought them in as well.”
“It’s had a great flow-on effect. There’s a nice local element to this campaign, which in the current climate is priceless. Communities like to see brands supporting local businesses, so the end consumer is getting behind it as well.”
One of the murals Will & Co commissioned was an eye-catching display on the side of Critical Slide café in Bondi Beach, directing passers-by to come in for a coffee.
“Critical Slide is a surf and fashion store as well as a café, with a coastal look and feel. We thought the most appropriate way to promote them, keeping in line with their own brand identity, was to engage with a local artist to hand paint a mural on the side of their building” Josh says.
“We also made an A-frame for Critical Slide with a friend we’ve worked with for a long time, who created it out of recycled timber then hand painted the design that was fitting of their brand identity.”
Josh says a few other standout A-frames includes a sweet and inspired design for Wild Honey in Canberra and a recent project for Porch and Parlour in NSW.
“We engaged a local artist by the name of Steve Smith who does everything by hand. He came into our Bondi headquarters and painted each A-frame, which are made of beautiful, sustainably sourced native Blackbutt timber,” he says.
“Every venue is unique and has different needs. Since we started Will & Co, we’ve taken a bespoke approach to partnerships because when it comes to hospitality, there’s no one size fits all or cookie cutter approach. When we start working with a partner, we sit down with them to understand their needs and develop a plan to help achieve their goals.”
When NSW re-entered lockdown in June, Will & Co was forced to redirect its efforts but kept its campaign going strong.
“We were about two months into the outdoor campaign when the lockdown started and some of our vendors chose to close temporarily. We had to pivot and scale back our outdoor media in places like the city, where there weren’t many people, and bring forward activities in suburbs,” Josh says.
“Everyone has been impacted in some way by COVID-19, but it’s particularly true for cafés, and in some ways, this lockdown has felt very different to previous ones. We’ve just tried to help our partners as much as possible.”
Will & Co launched a range of convenience coffee products that cafés could sell and the customer could brew at home to increase transaction value. It continued local-targeted social media promotion of its café partners and Josh says the outdoor campaign helped put featured cafés top of mind in their local areas.
“When people do go out for coffee, we want to make sure they’re getting it from one of our partner venues,” he says.
“We haven’t slowed down at all in the past few months. We will be ramping up even more in November when we launch ‘phase two’ of the campaign, which will include the launch of the content series and continue to cover the east coast before rolling out over other states in 2022.”
While Will & Co is best represented in its home state of NSW, Josh says the roaster has national reach, with partnerships extending as far as the Mataya Eatery in Western Australia. Over the next year, Josh says he looks forwards more people asking ‘who is Will?’ and how they can become part of the Co.
“Alongside the campaign, in 2021 we’ve had brand activations, 13 product launches, several business and charity partnerships, a collaboration with a local brewer, new merchandise, a relaunched website, and increasing presence locally and interstate,” Josh says.
“It’s been a massive year for us. Our first step was ensuring we had strong foundations, built on our relationships with our café partners. From there, we’re looking to grow through supporting new café partners.”
For more information, visit www.willandco.com.au
This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.