"You’re on a street; everybody’s staring at you; you catch sight of your own reflection in the shop window; you’re naked, apart from a fez. Why? It’s confusing Your first childhood pet walks by. It turns to you and says, ’Can I check your ticket please?’ You need coffee!"

No, we’re not on hallucinogenics at BB. The dreamlike fug described above is from a recent radio marketing campaign by Upper Crust, targeting the breakfast trade. To clarify, the ad continues: "Get it from Upper Crust at the station. Good morning coffee." Travel specialist SSP, which owns the baguette outlet brand, believes there is an opportunity to increase the breakfast trade through people’s need for a morning booster.

Upper Crust’s morning sales are currently split roughly 50/50 between food and drinks. The aim of the marketing campaign was to get people to break their routines and stop off for a coffee and perhaps pick up a morning roll in the process.

Of course, travel outlets cater for unique consumer needs with a different dynamic to the high street. But any bakery retailers thinking that travel locations don’t present direct competition should think again. SSP’s own research shows that customers of Upper Crust use bakery chain Greggs as its first alternative choice.


"We believe it is a hugely competitive landscape, with great businesses working in different niches of the market, from Pret to EAT to Greggs to Subway, all doing it slightly differently," says Steve MacDavid, coffee, bakery and retail brands director at SSP UK. "There’s a lot to learn from each of these companies and we need to keep pushing ourselves, because ultimately customers have a choice." MacDavid’s remit covers bakery, coffee and convenience stores, including Upper Crust, Camden Food Co, Delice de France, Café Ritazza, Whistlestop, Bread Box and Pumpkin Café.


"The campaign is not something we’ve done before," he says. "This year we decided we needed a step-change in the way we communicated with customers. We’ve done a lot of work over the past few years, understanding the behaviours and needs of the travelling consumer. When a customer gets to a station, they’re in a rush. Their mindset is very much to get onto that train. They’re not in a browsing mentality, so we felt we needed to talk to consumers before they got to the station to get them aware of the brand when they are in a less stressful frame of mind."

This London-centred campaign 65% of all train journeys either start or end in London involved a humorous slant on the main values of the brand. No price promotions were used. Instead, it took out advertisements in the Metro, panels in underground rail stations and radio advertising on Capital and XFM and yawning actors dressed as sleep-deprived businessmen, holding up placards in train stations.

"We wanted to get the whole customer journey from when they woke up in the morning and heard it on the radio, to when they are sat on the train reading the Metro, to when they are on the escalator, to hopefully when they are in the station seeing the signs. When they get to the store, we gave staff t-shirts, changed the cup design and put in big banners.

"What our research showed was that there is a big group of customers who are really heavy users at Upper Crust. Our objective was to try and penetrate more into that heavy user group. So what we did was focus a campaign around some of the characteristics of that group." These tended to be younger males.

"Upper Crust will sell you a big fresh filling baguette; we know from our research that the primary thing that people who are likely to be heavy users want is a substantial, delicious eat."