Recaffeinating a decaffeinated relic.


Hey, that’s a pretty distinctive holding page. Drink in the roasted browns, the burnt siennas; it’s 1970s nostalgia rendered into HTML. That’s right, Brim is back. Or, it will be if River West Brands has anything to say about it. The Chicago company specializes in the acquisition of dead brands, iconic chunks of America’s shared advertising past that have since faded into obscurity, bankruptcy, or the forgotten back room of some larger entity. In Brim’s case, the decaffeinated brew was shelved (or rather un-shelved) when creator General Foods got gobbled up in a series of mergers which eventually landed it in the bowels of Altria. That behemoth also bought Kraft. Which controlled Maxwell House. Which itself was a retail coffee force and certainly a stronger brand presence than that brown and orange decaf favorite of the 70s advertising epoch. Hence, Brim’s end.

But not really. River West recognized that a product such as Brim retains a certain brand residue, an ongoing recognition rendered from the collective memory of a thousand ad spots during “The Six Million Dollar Man” and reruns of “Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” So RW picked up Brim, as it did Coleco (!), Salon Selectives (“Like you just stepped out of a salon…”), Underalls pantyhose, and even the retail apparel brand Structure. (What’s next, Chess King?) Its intent? “We recognized the opportunity presented by dormant brands in 2001, and have been working to systematically transform these brands from orphans into valuable assets ever since,” RW explains on its Web site. “We are the first company ever to successfully acquire and exploit brands in this new emerging asset class.” Corporate speak aside, River West seems to be onto something. In an age where branding is everything, why shouldn’t rebranding get into the act, too?

The company acknowledges these properties’ “deaths,” too, or at least their existence in a sort of brand purgatory: their site’s splash page features a line of logo-imprinted agriculture warehouses, as if re-cultivation is just a season away.

Let’s take a spin through some Brim favorites of yore. Sidenote: why did lots of 70s adverts feature similar setups to 70s porno scenes? “My first solo flight! Come on, let’s have some coffee…”

Brim was chosen as the official coffee of the 1976 Olympic Games. Check out this crazed woman, who might’ve been putting something else in that decaf:
This one seems like a UK spot; it features an actor-sung jingle, and the revelation that Brim is blended with grain to reach its fullest flavor:
“Barbara, you make a great cup of coffee. Now where do you want this rooster vane?”
–Johnny Loftus

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