Porsche Surprised Coffee Drinkers at a Cafe With Something to Really Wake Them Up

Secretly replacing the fine coffee these people usually drink

Recently, a coffee shop in Carson, Calif., began offering customers a mysterious new beverage called E-Jolt, telling them it was so “incredibly powerful,” they’d have to sign a waiver before ordering.

“Waivers for coffee is the hip new thing,” explains a bearded hipster barista in the clip below.

Folks who put pen to paper were whisked outside to sample the product, and they were in for a wild ride. Their hearts raced and they sped around in circles, though this particular hidden-camera stunt wasn’t really selling coffee at all:

Who needs java to rev you up when you’ve got the 680-horsepower Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, which goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds? It leaves those Starbucks holiday cups in the dust!

Rides took place at the Porsche Experience Center, about two miles from the coffee shop, and the whole scenario was designed to “shake up perceptions of hybrid technology,” Marshall Ross, creative chief at Cramer-Krasselt, the agency behind the stunt, tells AdFreak.

“Hybrid engines are considered ‘good’ technology thanks to their ecological benefits,” Ross says, “but they’re not known for much else. No one thinks hybrids are fun or exhilarating. And those two notions are central to the Porsche brand. The way this car adds a mind-blowing element to what is normally a fairly dull driver experience made us think about what a jolt of caffeine does. It creates a buzz, opens your eyes, wakes you up.”

The cafe channels the vibe of old commercials set in fancy restaurants, where brands such as Folgers would secretly replace fresh-brewed coffee with instant. Here, Porsche adds a high-octane twist: “We’ve secretly replaced their coffee with a car,” Ross says.

C-K and Porsche have teamed up for inventive work before, including magazine ads featuring holograms and other novel technology. “Innovation is a core brand attribute we want to amplify in communications,” Ross says. “So, we’re always looking for ways to behave innovatively, rather than simply talk about innovations.”

For E-Jolt, the challenge was “to create a situation that would give people a smile because how we demonstrated the car felt fresh and surprising,” he says. “While the hologram may look more ‘techy,’ this was pretty technical from a camera point of view. This was true hidden-camera. The responses were real. There were a ton of cameras to hide to make this work.”

That realism factor actually made C-K “a little nervous” going into the two-day shoot, Ross says, because “the entire success of this project hinged on people taking the plunge,” and the team worried that the adrenalized sales pitch and waiver might dissuade too many folks from ordering. “But nearly everyone did [order an E-Jolt]. The only ones that didn’t either weren’t feeling well, or were creatures of habit.”

In fact, one guy “opted for a baby quiche instead of a ride in a 680-horsepower sports car,” Ross says. “Hope the quiche was good.”

Client: Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
Director, Marketing Communications: Scott Baker
Advertising & Collateral Manager: Lindsay Bacon
Strategic Marketing Manager: Scott Devault

Agency: Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago
Chief Creative Officer: Marshall Ross
SVP, Executive Creative Director: Rick Hamman
Creative Director: Rick Standley
Creative Director: Conn Newton
Senior Art Director: John McKenzie
Senior Copywriter: John Doessel
Producer: Will Meyers
SVP, Group Account Director: Chris Hanley
Account Supervisor: Cara Kerr
Account Executive: Lisa Gehring
Scott McBurnie, VP, Executive Producer
Kristin Vayda, Associate Producer

Production Co: One @Optimus
Director: Sam Macon
Head of Production: Dave Buehrle
Executive Producer: Jonah Mueller
Producer: Rachel North
Production Supervisor: Jake Brown
Asst. Production Supervisor: Sarah Sklar

Post Production: Optimus
Post Producer: Brian Hrastar
Editor: Randy Palmer
Audio Sound Design & Mix: Marina Bacci

Music: The Elements
Creative Director: Andy Carroll
Creative Director: J Bonilla
Creative Director: Ian Dalsmer
Creative Director: Dan Bewick

Coffee Shop: Green Door Powered by Intelligentsia

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.