Coco Chanel has taken over the Aunn Cafe & Co. near Jing'an Temple, becoming Coco Cafe. It has blown-up on Chinese media. Naturally, we went to the back of the line to see what hoops we had to jump through to get a Coco cup of coffee.
Coco Chanel™ approached the Aunn Cafe & Co. people and asked them if they could take over their enormous patio in the heart of Jing'an District and turn it into a branding exercise cafe for 12 days. It's really taken off, with lines queueing up to take a selfie with that hot disposable Coco Chanel branded coffee cup.
When I got there, the queue didn’t seem that long...
... until I was directed to the actual back of the queue around the corner of the building.
While in line, they make you scan QR Code to book an appointment with Coco Cafe. The next available time was Wednesday at 4pm. I asked the line chaperones why they were making us stand in line to book an appointment for two days later. They said "doesn't matter, just book it."
I stood nervously in line for an hour with my ticket for Wednesday at 4pm and wondering if they'd deny me my Coco Chanel coffee. Turns out it does not, in fact, matter what time you book. There were people behind me who had booked an appointment before me and they still had to wait. The staff scanned my QR code ticket without a second glance, handed me a "menu" with Chanel products on it and ushered me in.
Coco has turned Aunn Cafe & Co. into a free-for-all make-up buffet. The ratio was 99:1 in favor of young women with pink and blue cases on their iPhones.
At the coffee counter I was hesitantly informed that to receive my free cup of Coco Chanel-rebranded Aunn Cafe & Co. coffee from the rebranded Aunn Cafe & Co barista and coffee machine, I had to try three Coco Chanel products.
First stop, nail polish. Lots of Le Vernis here. The confident but muted purple of 514 Roubachka really caught my eye, but I also tried a few others, including a bold 544 Hyperrosse Glass Limited Edition and this delightfully subtle 548 Blanc White. They applied evenly (though the Roubachka required a second coat) and dried quickly. I also went for the 516 Mariniere at first but regretted it and replaced it with that Blanc White instead.
With a stamp on my "menu" from the nail polish lady I moved on. I asked the Rouge Chanel Gloss lipgloss attendant whether she thought the 728 Rose Pulpe Moisturizing Glossimer or the 172 Tendresse would be best for me but she muttered "It's okay you don't have to..." so I think I went with Rose Pulpe.
Two stamps down and one left before I could get my coveted free Coco Cafe coffee. Unfortunately, the blush station was particularly busy, but I noticed you get a stamp if you wait in line for an attendant to take your Chanel branded picture with your phone.
Third stamp done. I proudly displayed my stamped menu at the coffee counter, got a little ticket and was told they'd probably get to my number in half an hour.
Roughly two hours after I'd first gotten in line, I had my coffee. It’s glorious. I could wear that disposable heat-sleeve like an armband. They gave me a kissy-lips lollipop and a bunch of stickers on the way out, too. How was the coffee? It tasted like victory. Weak, lukewarm victory. But it was free.
I found the Aunn Cafe & Co guys parked further inside the building and got another cappuccino from them in a minute and a half flat for 30rmb. I asked if they thought this stellar bit of brand synergy was worth it. They paused and said "Maybe. But I don't think people know that it's still our coffee in there.”
The Coco Cafe pop-up is there till April 23. Aunn Cafe & Co. will be back in place by April 25.