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Mark Pentleton

Mark Pentleton

Founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages

A peak behind the scenes of our ABBA-inspired campaign

Mark reveals all about our "Here We Go Again" event

It’s no secret that here at Coffee Break Languages we’re all ABBA fans, so when we were planning our special event which included the announcement of Coffee Break Swedish, we felt it was only appropriate to include a few references to ABBA. Some of these were fairly obvious, taken from the most popular ABBA songs, but there were a few more obscure references hidden in the various social posts, email messages and the script of the event itself. In response to requests from the Coffee Break community, we’ve decided to reveal all here.

Why ABBA?

First of all, why ABBA? Well, I’ve loved the music of ABBA since I was a child. There was something special about the melodies, the clipped pronunciation of the Scandinavian voices singing pop songs which, at the time, were not seen as particularly “cool”, but that didn’t matter to me.

There was also something exotic and “foreign” about songs like Voulez-vous, Fernando , Mamma Mia and Hasta Mañana, and the Gracias por la música album was probably among the first music in a language other than English I’d ever heard. When I discovered that the early music of Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Frida was predominantly in Swedish, I was desperate to find recordings of their early albums and built an extensive collection of CDs of pre- and eventually post-ABBA music recorded in Swedish. ABBA has been part of my life, so it was only natural to include some references as we announced Coffee Break Swedish to the world.

Our Marketing Campaign

It all began with our initial invitation on Instagram last week: “We’ve done it all before and now we’re back to get some more”. This first line was hopefully cryptic enough not to spoil the surprise, but we deliberately chose an image including strong coffee and kannelbullar, the traditional cinnamon buns which are a staple part of any real Swedish coffee break or fika. The lyrics come from the first verse of the ABBA classic, Voulez-vous:

And here we go again, we know the start, we know the end,
masters of the scene.
We’ve done it all before, and now we’re back to get some more.
You know what I mean.”

Voulez-Vous
Voulez-Vous, 1979

 

Every Monday we post a #mondaymotivation image on all our social media networks, providing some motivation for language learners. The focus is normally about opening your mind and thinking about the opportunities language-learning provides, and this week’s image focused on travel. For this reason we chose a lyric from the song Move On (which is highly underrated in my opinion): “I’ve travelled every country, I’ve travelled in my mind”.

I’ve travelled every country
I’ve travelled in my mind;
it seems we’re on a journey,
a trip through space and time.”

Move On
The Album, 1977

 

In the caption which accompanied this image we also quoted I Have a Dream, mentioning that having a “destination makes it worth the while”.

And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness, still another mile.”

I Have A Dream
Voulez-Vous, 1979

We’re adding to our range of Coffee Break Magazine podcasts this week with the introduction of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine, and our suggestion was that using these podcasts on your commute may be the perfect way of keeping up your language skills, just like reading “the morning paper going into town”. This was exactly what Agnetha sang about in one of ABBA’s last singles, The Day Before You Came. It’s also worth mentioning that many lines in this song start with “I must have…” which for any language-lover throws up all sorts of tense challenges when translating into other languages!

I must have read the morning paper going into town
And having gotten through the editorial no doubt I must have frowned”

The Day Before You Came
Single, 1982

 

On the day of our launch it was exactly a week since we first announced the event and therefore the perfect opportunity to include the line from The Name of the Game: “only a week since we started” in our Instagram post.

I’ve seen you twice in a short time, only a week since we started.
It seems to me for every time, I’m getting more open-hearted.”

The Name of the Game
The Album, 1977

 

We then revisited Voulez-Vous and mentioned that there was definitely “a sense of expectation hanging in the air”, and featured the main strap line of our campaign: “Here we go again”. We chose the graphic shown above which featured four cups on a white wooden background. The additional empty hook pointed to the idea that there was a cup missing. In our case the missing cup was the new language that we were about to reveal, Swedish. The fact that the image felt a bit Greek in style also seemed to work, linking to the Mamma Mia movies, although we were concerned that some viewers may guess that we were going to launch Coffee Break Greek. Not yet, at least!

This line is also from Voulez-vous, although it’s also recognisable from the title of the second Mamma Mia film. It features in the song Mamma Mia, albeit in a slightly different form:

Mamma Mia, here I go again
My, my, how can I resist you”

Mamma Mia
ABBA, 1975

 

There’s one final point about this image which I have to mention and which ties up the Swedish link even further: I’m 99% certain that the cup hooks and rack are the Fintorp cup rail and hooks from Ikea, because we have exactly the same in our video studio, as shown here!

Our “one more thing” announcement was that we’ve been working on the fifth season of Coffee Break French, so we couldn’t resist the final ABBA reference which simply used the title of Voulez-Vous, but we made sure to use the exact colours of the text on the Voulez-Vous album for extra authenticity!

Other references

  • Our feature on using music in your language learning quoted the lyrics of Take a Chance on me, as we suggested that you “listen to some music; maybe just talking…” about the lyrics would help!
  • In our YouTube feature, we asked if you were “tired of TV” or if you’d had enough of Netflix and if so, why not check out our YouTube channel which is full of videos for language learners. The “tired of TV” reference of course came from the first line of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
  • As we introduced Coffee Break English, a whole new area of development for us, we referred to this as “taking on a new dimension”, quoting from As Good As New: “As good as new, and growing too, yes I think it’s taking on a new dimension”.

The font

When designing any marketing campaign, one of the most important elements to ensure consistency throughout the graphics is the choice of font, and for anything involving ABBA, there’s only one font that can be considered: News Gothic. This was the font chosen by Rune Söderqvist who designed the ABBA logo with the familiar reversed “B” and which became the logo of the group from 1976. Interestingly it was also used in the Star Wars “opening crawl” and for the closing credits of all the films in the series.

Although the original ABBA designs used mostly the bold variety of News Gothic, we included some light versions of the font in some of our graphics for our video content in the presentation. Of course, we made sure to reduce the kerning by about 2% to make sure that the wording on all our images looked as close as possible to the original ABBA designs!

Conclusion

We’re probably a bit mad. Or at the very least ABBA-obsessed. But that’s part of the fun of designing this whole campaign! I hope that it was all subtle enough to not be too obvious, but when you look back at the whole campaign it all makes sense. And it was fun to create these graphics and pay homage to my favourite group! I hope this outline of this campaign gives you a peak behind the scenes and that it explains the thought process behind creating the marketing materials for it.

One more thing

If you’ve not already seen our previous testimony to our favourite group, then do make sure you watch the video we made: a highlight of “our last summer” 😉 involved various members of the Coffee Break team performing our own parody version of Mamma Mia, the story of a language learner.

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