Patriot Blend: A cup of morale goes a long way
We are at WAR!
On September 11, 2001, an evil group of terrorists attacked our country, declaring “Jihad” on the United States of America. A war we didn’t want. A war we didn’t ask for. A war that has become increasingly unpopular. A war that has become the center of debate for an entire nation. Political parties, families, churches, even businesses are divided. The media is consumed with the debate and it would appear that every American between the ages of 8 and 80 has a different opinion about this War on Terror. Three hundred million couch quarterbacks telling the President of the United States and his United States Armed Forces how to best protect this country. The topic has really divided us in so many ways – and not just politically. Political correctness has been given a foothold in the debate as well.
Corporate America is afraid of the war. Most corporate boardrooms want nothing to do with the words Iraq or Afghanistan. The debate in the political world and in the media has polarized this country, and most large corporations want nothing to do with it. They have shareholders and customers and partners that they do not want to offend, so they remain neutral. They stay out of the debate.
When an email was spread nationwide about how Starbucks refused to send coffee to some troops in Iraq, the debate hit corporate boardrooms again. Basically, supporting the troops might offend someone and not supporting the troops might offend someone. So their response to the situation was to just sit on the sidelines while brave young men and women were serving our country during a brutal war with a cunning enemy halfway across the world.
Most corporate boardrooms are afraid to stand up and show support for the troops. Patriots have bled fighting for our democracy for over 200 years so that those very boardrooms can exist. Since July 4th, 1776, American patriots have protected American business, if nothing else. Freedom, capitalism, free market, and democracy are all protected by U.S. troops. Business in America is feasible largely because of the United States Armed Forces. U.S. troops secure trade and commerce throughout the world, primarily in support of U.S. interests (security and commerce). In my humble opinion, to remain neutral about supporting soldiers risking their lives while in a war against an evil enemy approaches treason. Whether you believe we should be there or not is of no consequence to me. The fact remains that good Americans are following orders and serving this country; they deserve our respect for their loyalty and devotion. This country was founded on the backs of patriots and they deserve our support!
So as not to offend Starbucks, maybe we should not support them by buying any of their products! I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this war might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn't mean we don’t support the boys on the ground fighting street-to-street and house-to-house for what they and I believe is right. If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you
can discard it and no one will ever know.
Thanks very much for your support. I know you'll all be there again when I deploy once more.
PLEASE DON'T DELETE THIS.... ALLOW IT TO BE PASSED TO ALL IN MEMORY OF ALL THE TROOPS WHO HAVE DIED SO THAT WE MAY HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE TO SUPPORT THEM OR NOT!!!
In early 2003, when the United States attacked the country of Iraq, we wanted to do something to help. We felt that if we sent some of our coffee to our troops that we would be supporting them in a small but measurable way. I called my PR guru Stephanie Weiss and asked her what she thought about the idea. She thought it was wonderful and offered to help where she could. She connected me with the Antelope Valley Red Cross, and they said they were shipping supplies to troops. Then I called my good friend Don Sanders and asked him what he thought about the idea. Some people were throwing around words like Freedom Fries in response to France’s refusal to help us with the war, and we wanted to come up with a coffee name that was patriotic. As we were coming up with ideas, the name Patriot Blend stood above the crowd…and that was that! Just a few weeks after the war broke out, we shipped 1,000 pounds of Patriot Blend coffee to Iraq via the Red Cross.
Stephanie Weiss did her PR magic and sent out a press release. We got a good response. A few papers called us and wanted to send out photographers. We also got a call from a local TV station – ABC7 News wanted to come out too. We ended up on TV nationwide after a whole bunch of affiliates picked up the story. FOX NEWS even picked it up and ran the story to a nationwide audience, just two weeks after a major war broke out. A few local newspapers carried the story and the Patriot Blend was born. We added it to our internet site and sold it online exclusively for the next three years.
Almost three years after our first donation, I felt that we needed a competitive advantage to better compete on grocery store shelves. I called a brainstorming meeting with my staff and we decided to bring the Patriot Blend to the streets. I was concerned that people might think it was a gimmick, intended to capitalize on an emotional war. I began to think of ways to give the product meaning. I mean, why call it Patriot Blend in the first place?
I did some math, made a few calls, and decided that if a customer bought a pound of Patriot Blend from us, that we would donate one pot of coffee to the troops. We made the product interactive. When a customer purchases it, they actually indirectly donate coffee to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We knew we could not ship this coffee overseas ourselves and started calling charitable organizations that send gift packs to troops.
I first connected with the USO in Washington, DC and they were very receptive to our cause. They said they would get our coffee to the troops as long as we got it to them in DC. We shipped several thousand pounds of our coffee to the USO in Washington, DC where they, in-turn, shipped it with other goodies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We wanted the product to center around supporting the troops, so we decided that a customer’s purchase would trigger the donation. The donation size would be a 1.5 oz portion pack, capable of brewing 12 cups each.
We started pitching it to the major grocery store chains first. Though not every grocer wanted the item in their stores, both Albertsons and Ralphs decided to add it to their shelves, gaining us more press in the process. I took the program to the big wholesalers like Sam’s Club next. Sam’s Club said they would try the item in some road shows to gauge consumer reaction. Well, we added the item to our road shows and the sales were simply amazing. The feedback we got from Sam’s members was in complete support of the item and the sales results proved it to the buyer.
Memorial Day 2007
Another 250,000 portion packs donated
When we found out the hard way that doing road shows at Sam’s Club resulted in a lot of leftover coffee, we decided to donate it to the troops. We were building a brand and establishing credibility, while energizing the troops. A local trucking company donated their services by shipping the coffee to the USO in Washington, DC.
In May of 2007, we were on TV again for donating coffee to the troops. This time, two local TV stations (KTLA Channel 5 and KABC7) picked up the story and we began cementing our positive association with the Patriot Blend. Supporting the troops became a major cause at Newhall Coffee and we began getting acknowledged for our good citizenship. We have received two letters from California’s Governor, thanking us for our support of the troops.
The Patriot Blend concept has given birth to additional opportunities for us as well. For one – the opportunity to serve our country! As corporate citizens, we feel honored to have the opportunity to serve our great nation. Patriot Blend brought opportunities that have materialized into sales; just like the Sam’s Club deal we did in May 2008 when they bought a few hundred thousand pounds nationwide. It has brought our company immeasurable good will. People stop me in the streets and thank me all the time for our support of the troops. It has brought us more press than any other venture.
Good press gives birth to brand awareness and positioning. Our association with supporting the troops is very good for our brand image, has given us more credibility and has increased sales of all our products. We have received accommodations from public officials and thank you letters from brave men and women serving in the military. It has opened doors of opportunity that have yet to bear fruit (but someday will). I also believe there is fruit we don’t even see – fruit that will come into vision as soon as the time is right. The best fruit takes more time and as we evolve, so will the opportunities. We just have to see them and act on them the best we can.
In June 2008, the item was bought and placed in over 230 Sam’s Clubs nationwide. This was our largest sale ever! It was an amazing moment for this small company. A huge accomplishment we are all very proud of. We have received numerous emails and letters from soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors thanking us for our coffee and for our support of their service.
We are also grateful to anyone else who serves our nation. We appreciate your service!