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Why This Boutique Russian Coffee Brand Advertised its Product on the Darknet


POSSIBLE Moscow on going underground for Chernyi Cooperative

Why This Boutique Russian Coffee Brand Advertised its Product on the Darknet
Coffee isn’t part of everyday life in Russia. It is widely still seen as unhealthy and alien. So when Moscow boutique coffee brand Chernyi Cooperative wanted to drive up sales of its product, they opted for a rather unusual method. Along with its agency POSSIBLE Moscow, they launched a campaign in which their coffee was sold via Tor, the app needed to access the darknet. The shop operates at cherniyx23pmfane.onion (Tor is needed to access the site), and once a purchase is made using Bitcoins and a Qiwi payment system, buyers receive coordinates as to the whereabouts of their stash. LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with POSSIBLE creative director Vlad Sitnikov to find out more.

LBB> Can you tell us about the perception of coffee in Russia and how it influenced the outlook of this campaign?

VS> Russian people still consider coffee as something foreign. Tea is our national product. People think that coffee is harmful to one's health and that it’s better not to drink more than one cup a day. The level of awareness about the product is really low. People even think that coffee only contains caffeine and tea doesn’t. They perceive coffee as a stimulant not as a gourmet drink.

LBB> What was the brief like from the brand for this campaign?

VS> Cooperative Черный is known by all coffee geeks in Moscow. But they want to grow consumption of really good coffee. They are not cheap so they want a smart audience with money. We decided to burst social media / media and the darknet space with our message — you can buy us there.

LBB> What would you say your aim demographic is for this?

VS> We know that darknet users have money. We know that they are smart enough to use Tor to find what they want. We bought banners on marketplaces to drive them to our site — it is their first banner campaign on the internet and the first time they watched a legal product there.


LBB> What was the reaction of the client like when you put the idea forward?

VS> They said: “We have to do it! It's so clever and bright! All our audience is there!”

LBB> Obviously not many people are users of the darknet - so how did you ensure that people were aware of the campaign outside of that?

VS> We only have rumours and buzz created from the community that use it. Plus, we are seeing the Russian public beginning to use Tor more and more because of the government.

LBB> When people purchase on Tor, it gives them a treasure hunt style experience to collect their product. How does that work?

VS> No. We will send them coordinates… And the stash is in the physical coffee shop. We generate traffic to the store.

LBB> The idea of placing it on the dark net is a bluff to prove that coffee in fact isn’t a drug - how are you ensuring that message gets across?

VS> Firstly we communicated with the influencers to share the link to our .onion site. We used similar messages in our Facebook posts as you would when discussing drugs.

It is really provocative and stimulates people to check it out. On the darknet we made banners with the same slogans that you have to click. They are banners from dark marketplaces.

LBB> What has the reaction been like in Russia?

VS> Around the underground and target audience, amazing and stunning. You can check it out on Cherniy Facebook page. There are thousands of positive comments. 

LBB> What have been the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?

VS> After we sold the idea, it was very difficult to understand all of the darknet rules. So we found a consultant — an ex-cop — who described to us what we needed. But since then our social media director has sealed his laptop camera…

LBB> Any parting thoughts?

VS> Check out the music.

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LBB Editorial, Mon, 31 Oct 2016 16:20:31 GMT