A marketing scheme to delight color fanatics in New York City: Pantone is serving free color-themed lattes in a pop-up café over the weekend (July 12-14). Devotees who show up at the Café OLED in Soho can sip flavored coffees in Pink Peacock, Turmeric, Aspen Gold, and Pepper Stem—hues in the 57-year old color standards company’s summer trends forecast. The cafe will also offer pastries in the same color palette.
This is at least the second time Pantone has ventured into applying its color standards to food. In 2015, it operated a temporary café in Monaco inviting visitors to “taste the color.” and ruminate over how they associate certain foods with colors.
The Pantone Café’s New York edition is less esoteric. Café OLED is actually, in essence, a showroom for LG Electronics’s high-definition TVs. The 4K model, equipped with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, has no connection with Pantone per se, but LG’s Michelle Fernandez says that LG OLED’s deep black screen inspired the collaboration. “We wanted to bring the experience of how intense color is displayed against the LG OLED TV’s perfect black canvas by partnering with the Pantone Color Institute,” explains Fernandez, who oversees brand marketing initiatives for the South Korean company in the US. The café, she adds, will have themed sugary treats by color- and glitter- obsessed pastry chef Amirah Kassem and an art exhibit by Australian designer David McLeod projected on the monitors.
Partnering with Pantone is a known marketing tactic for many brands. Just for its “Color of the Year” program alone, companies from Party City, Tribute Portfolio hotels, Butter Cosmetics, and Adobe, to FedEx have forged formal licensing agreements with Pantone. The New Jersey-based company, which supplies technical color chips and swatches to the design industry, is now a beloved global consumer brand beyond its niche consumer base. But with a seemingly endless litany of partnerships—from inspired to very cheesy—is there a danger of compromising the integrity of the color standards brand?
“[We] do enjoy many different types of collaborations across a wide variety of industries.…But I don’t get concerned about the brand becoming saturated,” says Pantone Color Institute VP Laurie Pressman. “Color is a language, and one that we all use every day. Our goal is to educate people on the relationship between color and culture.”
LG and Pantone say they have no immediate plans to open more themed cafés in other cities. If you miss this weekend’s pop-up in Manhattan, you could resort to a crazy tie-dye frappuccino at your local Starbucks.
Café OLED will be open from 11 am to 5 pm until Sunday (July 14) at 386 West Broadway, between Spring St. and Broome St.