Flying to Gotham City, ‘ironing’ bread and local coffee culture: Spotting trends in Turkey - what’s next & who’s winning.


In the second part of a series of featured posts from Idea Bakery, our partners in Turkey that have been applying Trend-Driven Innovation methodology to the work they produce for clients, Brand Communications Consultant Neslihan Kohen discusses the Turkish brands most worthy of admiration (whether they receive the plaudits or not) and the consumer expectations that brands across the country are failing to recognise.

You can view the first part of the series here

What Turkish brand do you most admire, and why?

Turkish Airlines. With a revolutionary approach, they have the most daring vision I’ve ever seen in a Turkish company: to become the biggest and best airline in the world by 2023! This vision enables them to thrive and become a distinguished competitor among global legacy airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates and British Airways.

It’s a vision that walks the walk: they fly to more destinations than any other airline in the world, their innovation strategy has upped the game of the airline business (flying chef, invest on board, etc.) and their communication strategy has set an example to all local brands who strive to become global.

Their high-profile campaigns show their ambition, too. Past ads include celebrity usage of world superstars such as Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant. Recently they are the first Turkish brand to advertise in Superbowl with a highly creative idea of “flying to Gotham City and Metropolis” to promote Batman vs. Superman sponsorship. This has also won them Entertainment Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival in 2016.

Turkish Airlines - Gotham City

Which Turkish brands do you feel isn’t often talked about outside of Turkey, but should be? And why?

There are two major Turkish brands that deserve to be famous worldwide yet are only vaguely known internationally. “Yeni Rakı” and “Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi”.

Yeni Rakı

Turkey’s national alcoholic drink, representing a common cultural legacy of the many diverse civilizations that have lived in the region — comprised of today’s modern 21st Century to Anatolian wine culture. Just as one would do with wine, the people of Anatolia developed and perfected a new craft over the centuries: distilling alcohol they obtained by fermenting grapes.

Rakı, majorly represented by the brand Yeni Rakı, is not only a legendary alcoholic beverage due to the production process but also due to  its rich cultural heritage, it is an indispensable part of the dining and entertainment culture of modern Turkey. As the most renowned representation of the Anatolian heritage, Yeni Rakı is the perfect match for an unforgettable Turkish experience. Even better than Turkish Delight! ;)


The occasion of drinking Yeni Rakı is also a ceremonious pleasure — in both preparation and in the drinking itself. When fixing your raki drink, you start with an empty glass — preferably a tall raki glass from fine hand-made crystal — add the raki, then water, and at the end add the ice. The way to drink it is slowly, by savoring every sip. Rakı is commonly consumed with a selection of hot and cold tapas style appetizers. This experience is called ‘Rakı Sofrası’ (Rakı Feast).

Looking at the top 100 spirits in the world, Yeni Rakı is number 17 on the list among the worldwide spirit brands in retail value, however, it’s still at the bottom of list when it comes to recognition. It deserves to be in the top 5 in both lists!

Yeni Rakı Commercials

Following the passing of government legislation prohibiting its promotion and advertising in 2013, Turkey has been very much a ‘dark market’ in terms of alcoholic beverage marketing. These commercials belong to the time when it was a semi-dark market (when adverts were allowed on all mediums except TVC — this was in place until 2013).

Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi

Turkish coffee has a 500-year-old history with an inspiring culture and tradition

The first ever coffeehouse opened in Istanbul in the 16th century. Turks introduced coffee to Europe, preparing with appreciation ‘for 40 years’ — a phrase to highlight how offering a cup of coffee builds friendships and smoothens atmospheres (it being said that once you share a coffee with someone, they can ask for 40 years of favors from you). It is the equivalent of a “cup of tea” in the British culture.

Drinking Turkish coffee is an inseparable part of the Turkish culture, indeed the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism submitted Turkish coffee to Unesco’s World Heritage list as a cultural inheritance. The infamous “is it Turkish coffee or Greek coffee?” debate should be no more!

Unlike other coffees, Turkish coffee has a special tool and preparation ritual, as seen in the below video:

Although the brand is sold around the world, neither Turkish coffee nor Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi have really been able to cement the uniqueness and authenticity of the Turkish coffee experience in the minds of many modern global coffee consumers.

Gizem Salcigil White and Tugcem Gaines, aka The Turkish Coffee Ladies

There is, however, one PEER ARMY, “Turkish Coffee Ladies”, who are relentlessly trying to bring Turkish coffee to US customers. The volunteering team offers samples of Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi to promote the brand, as well as Turkish coffee as a whole, through their ‘Turkish Coffee Truck’ initiative.

Traveling to major U.S cities such as Washington D.C, Baltimore, New York and Boston and across Europe to France, Belgium and the Netherlands, visiting universities, festivals and the NATO Headquarters, among others, in three years (2012–15) they estimated reaching over 15,000 people.

The project received international media coverage, as well as official recognition the U.S. House of Representatives. The project is funded by donations from Turkey’s oldest coffee ground seller, the aforementioned Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi.

Which new & emerging customer expectations do you think are most overlooked by Turkish businesses?

There are 2 major customer expectations that are not efficiently tapped by Turkish companies: instant gratification through engagement and practical minds

Instant gratification through engagement

One of the overlooked new and emerging customer expectations is ‘instant gratification through engagement’.

Why? Even though we are in the era of digital marketing, Turkish companies are still caught up with the traditional ways of marketing communication.

It’s still a monologue from the brand to the consumer, rather than designing a full experience and leveraging creative engagement through the use of data and technology. Even though these companies pour their resources into understanding this shift, the perception of digital marketing is still at an underdeveloped stage.

Despite the potential of the connected young population, most companies only focus on digital marketing as a promotional platform where number of “likes” or “clicks” matter more than true consumer engagement.

They are not successful in reacting to comments in real time, and therefore fail to create a true dialogue between the brand and the consumer. When their perception finally evolves properly, they will start analyzing the dialogue between the consumers and turning data into strong insights that will translate into purpose-driven campaigns.

Practical Minds

Another overlooked aspect is a stereotypical characteristic of Turkish people deriving from our culture — “practicality”. As a developing country, creative practicality takes over when resources are not readily available at any given time (for example, it’s a common practice to use a clothing iron to make toasted bread at university dorms! ;).

Turkish people have practical minds by nature, and any immediately actionable innovation that can make our lives easier is always more than welcome — yet this opportunity and cultural insight is immensely overlooked by the brands.


Idea Bakery is a consultancy and training company with expertise on brand and business building equity and communications, based in Istanbul with network members in Frankfurt, Geneva and Atlanta. You can find more about them right here.