A short story about coffee, northern Italy and a customer journey

Tomer Zuker
7 min readMar 17, 2022

I’ve been meaning to write down this story for two years now, and like most good tales, this one too begins in Petah Tikva, Israel.

Act One — Let’s start with some background

The world of marketing is typically divided into two domains of content: Brand Marketing and Performance Marketing.

Brand Marketing involves the development and construction of the brand, its values, positioning, confidence and image. We work to increase brand exposure, awareness and preference for it, strengthen customer loyalty, emotional connection and more. This is the main field of activity of classic marketing. It requires a lot of thinking, long-term investment, patience and it’s difficult to measure its direct impact on the bottom line.

In contrast, Performance Marketing involves marketing activities that aim to create and promote sales opportunities, motivate the customer to purchase and repurchase; track and measure these activities, all while analyzing the ROI and evaluating the attribution of each content resource, campaign or event.

Performance Marketing is now much more widespread than it used to be, and is focused on achieving short-term results.

The combination of these two disciplines is the key to effective and useful marketing. The mix between Brand Marketing and Performance Marketing varies from company to company and depends on the maturity of the company and the market, scope of budget, type of product/service, etc.

Act Two — It’s time for a cup of coffee

About two and a half years ago, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a tutorial video for making coffee.

I really like coffee, but that was not the only reason I stopped scrolling and watched the video. There was something else about it.

The video, which lasts exactly 6.57 minutes (which is a lot!), shows a bearded Barista making coffee. Cappuccino to be exact.

The barista demonstrates how to make coffee with a Moka pot, and he does so very meticulously, almost like a religious ceremony:

⬅️ Slowly disassemble the Moka pot

⬅️ Pour hot water into the bottom container

⬅️ Add a generous stack of ground coffee to the designated container

⬅️ Place the Moka pot on the hot stove

⬅️ Wait for the water to boil and the addictive drink to form

Waiting for the water to boil is an integral part of the video, which goes on without any cuts. From minute 1:05 to 2:10, we watch the Barista wait in almost stoic serenity for the moment when the first coffee spout pops up, and until the top container of the Moka pot is filled. This process takes another 40 seconds.

The barista then pours the coffee into two mugs and starts making the frothed milk. He pours the milk into a small pot placed on the stove with a thermometer inside. From minute 3:08 to 5:18 (!) we patiently wait for the milk to heat up to the exact temperature.

Next, the barista pours the hot milk into the French press and manually froths the milk with a whisk until a thick texture is obtained. The barista pours the froth precisely into the two coffee mugs, and raises his thumb without looking at the camera. That’s the end of the video.

Not a single word is said throughout the video. The only sound we hear are the metal parts of the Moka pot, the pouring of water and coffee, the whipping of the milk, and the sound of the clanking mugs. That’s it. The relationship between the barista and the camera amounts to quick glances, maybe half a smile. Nothing more.

Seemingly, this is the antithesis to a “marketing” video: a long, monotonous video, with no gimmicks, no message, no call to action. Is this really just a tutorial video meant to impart knowledge for the benefit of the general public?

Act Three — My curiosity peaks…

I don’t know why the video appeared on my feed. Maybe I was in the process of searching for an espresso machine, perhaps I had watched other videos in similar areas, maybe something about my engagement or conduct on social media drove me to it through targeting or re-targeting. Who knows. The wonders of the algorithm… Bottom line, the video catered to my need, and I was able to imagine the aroma of the ground coffee and the rich taste. I had no choice but to buy a Moka pot, preferably the same exact model that appeared in the video.

So I started diving in…

I found out that the Barista’s name is Dritan Alsela, an Albanian by origin who lives in Germany. There he became a star on social media with over 3.5 million followers on Facebook and 850,000 followers on Instagram. He is an engineer by training but his claim to fame is his occupation as a professional barista. He owns a popular cafe in Düsseldorf, Germany, he judges in coffee competitions around the world, holds professional workshops, runs a barista school and more…

Although the video was not perceived as an ad, the identity of the Moka pot manufacturer and its accessories could not be ignored. It’s made by Bialetti, which is considered the world’s leading company in the field.

Is the video actually a product placement-type advertising platform that brings together a professional and popular barista with a manufacturer and seller of Moka pots?

It’s not hard to guess that the answer is yes. By the way, another quick inquiry revealed that on his website, the lovable Dritan sells a variety of products from… the Bialetti company. 😉

Act Four — That’s what I want!

My realization that this was actually marketing content did not diminish my desire to purchase a Moka pot for myself. But not just any kind. I wanted, I mean, I needed to get a Bialetti Moka pot…

I started with a quick Google search that led me to an e-commerce site of manufacturers and sellers. I read articles and reports about the differences between various Moka pots, prices, availability of coffee blends… Yes, when I dig, I dig deep… but something halted my momentum and the road to purchasing stopped at this point. My passion for the Moka pot went on break. The re-targeting campaigns of the various advertisers continued to chase me for about a week or two but eventually they too stopped.

Act Five — Garda, Pizza and Moka pot

Two or three months later, we went on a family trip to Lake Garda, in northern Italy. It was October, the Jewish New Year and the tail end of their tourist season.

One day, we went on an excursion to the north of Garda, towards the beautiful turquoise lakes nearby the Italian Alps. On our way back, we stopped in the town of Riva del Garda.

We were starving and searched for a place to eat. The default choice was pizza (which is a consensus), but since it was afternoon and some of the restaurants were already closed (end of season, remember?) it took us a long time to find a decent place… especially one that’s open.

As we left the restaurant and walked towards the car, we passed through a small shopping center and there on the ground floor I saw it. You couldn’t miss it: A Bialetti’s store!

I entered the store. I already knew exactly what I want. About five minutes later I left the place with a shiny new Moka pot, a whisk, a scented coffee blend and other accessories. I’m sure Dritan would be proud of me…

Act Six — Epilogue

One of our challenges as marketing managers is to find the right balance between Performance Marketing and Brand Marketing. As I noted earlier, there is a wide range of variables that affect the exact mix.

Although the world has made a sharp turn towards Performance Marketing (which is also my personal-professional inclination, as I’ll discuss in the next post), there is no doubt that Brand Marketing still has a central and key role in the customer’s decision-making process.

My private customer journey began in Petah Tikva, passed through social media, continued to Italy and ended back in Petah Tikva with an excellent and aromatic cup of coffee, on our home terrace.

The long, silent yet graceful video did the job. The choice of presenter and the elegant and indirect manner in which the message was conveyed, resulted in a purchase and a satisfied customer. The fact that I, as a marketing manager, was fully aware of every stop in the customer journey and all the manipulation, did not diminish the enjoyment of the journey and certainly did not impede its completion.

So just before launching your next campaign, remember my quest for the Moka pot. Go over your marketing plan and check — did you make sure to give enough love and attention to your brand?



Tomer Zuker

Marketing manager for global technology corporations, marketing mentor for early stage startups, public speaker for Marketing, Social selling, Partnership.