Coffee-mate’s New Marketing Guy Is a Gingerbread Man, and It’s Making Things a Bit Awkward

It's not his fault, really

You may want to grab a coffee with this guy, but you also might have to think twice before bringing him anywhere. 

That's because Nestlé Coffee-mate's new spokesperson, Joel Hubbard, is a gingerbread man. And he tends to say or do the wrong things at the wrong time—or maybe just attract the wrong kind of attention.

Two fifteen-second TV spots from 360i introduce Joel, who'll also star in four online videos—two with YouTube celebrity iJustine launching in early November—as well as Hispanic TV commercials.

The overall push, Coffee-mate's biggest holiday campaign to date, frames Joel as a just-hired marketing employee of the brand. In the first of the new ads, he sits in on his first meeting… and cracks an uncomfortable joke.

In the second, he's at a dinner party where, in the campaign's best moment so far, he turns out to be a touch too tantalizing for another guest.

It isn't his fault, really. But he manages make things even weirder by falling head-over-heels for an inanimate object. (Maybe he had one too many cups of joe with his meal, but come on, man, keep it together.)

Naturally, he brings to mind other edible cartoon characters, perhaps most strongly Mel, the neurotic granola bar mascot Droga5 created for Kraft's now-discontinued MilkBites in 2012. Though he's perhaps more akin to a millennial version of Shrek's Gingy.

And maybe he's just struggling to find his footing in a world where he's considered a sweet holiday edible. As Coffee-mate marketing manager Kevin Holmes puts it, "What's so great about Joel is that he's so relatable—we've all been the new guy, trying to find balance between work and life in a new city, which is why we're putting his life online for consumers to follow through the holidays."

The character will appear across Coffee-mate's social media profiles. One fun Tumblr post features him getting dressed for the day, which requires four tubes of icing that he has to apply on his own (if your morning routine required that kind of detail work, you might be a little high-strung too):



The campaign's goal is to raise awareness of the brand's seasonal flavors. Gingerbread and Eggnog are both new (and it's presumably a lot harder to personify eggnog). The TV spots—plus two more videos from the same shoot—were filmed live-action, with a 10-inch prop standing in for Joel; he was animated into the spots using CGI in postproduction.

"It was great watching the on-screen talent interact with the 'Stunt Joel' on set while our VO talent was sitting just off-camera," says Pierre Lipton, 360i's chief creative officer. "Working with babies and dogs has nothing on working with gingerbread men. They're much more predictable, and, arguably, nearly as cute."

That last bit, though, is clearly up for debate.


Client: Nestlé Coffee-mate

Agency: 360i 

CCO: Pierre Lipton

GCD: Michael Nuzzo

CD: Michael Condrick

CD: Tim Hancock

CD: Emily Sander

CD: Adam Gloo

AD: Hans Schenck

CW: Evan Atherton

Designer: Matt Lee

Director, Broadcast Production: Sharon Harte

Senior Producer: Steve Amato

Account Director: Meredith Meyer

Associate Account Director: Diane Myers

Senior Integrated Producer: Ashley Way

V.P/Director, Strategy: Brad Alperin

Senior Strategist: Meryl Swiatek

Production Company: Knucklehead        

Director:  Rob Leggatt

Executive Producer: Cathleen Kisich

Line Producer : Mona Nigro

Director of Photography:  Joost Van Gelder

Director of Food Photography: Joe Maxwell

Food Stylist : Esther Nieuwenhuis

Editorial Company : Cosmo Street Editorial

Executive Producer : Maura Woodward

Producer: Danielle Gordek

Editors:  Lawrence  Young   and Tiffany Burchard

Animation House – Click3X

EP: Camille Geier

Producer: Jody Peters

Animator: Anthony Filipakis

Flame Artist: Andrew Granelli

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.