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Dallas Cowboys and Black Rifle Coffee Company Partnership -- Message Mishaps

Lots of Monday Morning Quarterbacking (pun intended) going on about the Dallas Cowboy and Rifle Coffee Company partnership announcement. Criticism ranges from the poor timing, to claims of a publicity stunt, to the names of Black Rifle Coffee products, to the partnership overall.

There were several problems in the execution: the timing, the channel and the message, but in my opinion, not about the partnership. Black Rifle Coffee is a coffee company that is veteran-owned and operated (by a former Green Beret), not a gun company. It makes a lot of charitable contributions and supports current and former members of the military, first responders and others. Because of the company’s mission, ties to Dallas and “Love of American Culture,” it seems like it would be a marketing partnership that appeals to its intended demographic. Marketing teams likely considered and weighed the risk of an association with guns, given the brand ethos and names of some of the products, but likely did not consider the risk of being associated with gun violence.

Timing: The announcement was originally timed to coincide with the July 4th holiday to support their “America’s Football Team and America’s Coffee Company.” In the aftermath of the shootings, it would have been wise to hold off the announcement. Media and consumers will be biased after such a tragedy and announcing it a day after mass shootings was extremely tone deaf. Many news reports highlighted “Murdered Out” and “AK-47” as some of the product names…but the company also has products called “Flying Elk,” “Power Llama” and “Space Bear.” Gun-centric? Yes. Provocative? Yes. But a proponent of violence? Not intentionally.

Channel and message: Also, announcing on Twitter did not allow for the in-depth messaging required to help consumers understand the history and mission of Black Rifle Coffee. I imagine much of the general public does not have enough awareness of the brand to associate it as “America’s Coffee” and will have very negative reactions to the name of the company and its products. Future communication will need to focus on the history of the brand, the work it is committed to doing to support veterans and first responders. BRC and the Dallas Cowboys will need to continue to walk the talk and follow through on charitable and philanthropic promises. Will the names of the coffee brews change?


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