Tag Archives: chefs

Volvic goes back to its roots with Tough Mudder deal

23 Apr

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I have a confession to make. Seven months ago I completed the incredible Tough Mudder challenge, and sometimes I wear my victory t-shirt to the gym to subtly show other people on the treadmill how brilliant I am. By the way, it feels good.

If you don’t know what Tough Mudder is, I’ll pop it into a nutshell for you: it’s 12-miles of electrifying pain across muddy terrain that requires top teamwork to overcome physical and mental challenges for a great cause – Help for Heroes.

Last year, I entered a team of chefs on behalf of my client, Meadowland, and ended up escorting them (slowly, slowly catch a monkey) down the track. I hadn’t trained, I was tired and almost gave up after nine miles. But my team, and every other competitor, kept me motivated. And that’s the beauty of Tough Mudder. It’s a challenging movement with camaraderie at the heart of every step – which is a marketing dream for the right brand.

So, I’m impressed that Volvic has recognised the event’s reach by signing a three-year sponsorship deal.

More than having the foresight to partner with this international event, it’s also creating a digital campaign to bring it to life. From Facebook ‘fan’ galleries to YouTube content, it seeks to unite runners online as well as on the circuit.

Executed in the right way, Volvic has a great opportunity to generate a good return on its £550,000 deal, by:

* Raising brand awareness through Tough Mudder’s existing comms
* Generating effective content that can be leveraged across traditional and social media
* Getting its products into the hands of thousands of runners across a series of regional events year-on-year.

Let’s just hope, for everyone’s sake, there’s still a pint of Strongbow waiting for them at the end. It’d be a shame for this brand to step away just as it’s built up momentum. Water just won’t cut it when you’ve been electrocuted, frozen and thrown yourself off walls.

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The Fat Duck owner waddles away from Little Chef

23 Jun

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The rise of celebrity chefs – such as Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver – have dominated our cookbooks, TV shows and magazines for years. But now, one angel named Heston has fallen from grace as roadside restaurant chain Little Chef has given him the boot.

Brand ambassador Heston Blumenthal has been dropped by Little Chef after six years, after his outrageous dishes proved unpopular with diners. A kick in the teeth after he was recruited by the business to help turn around its flailing image. But it seems that ox cheeks and strawberry and orange flower-water yoghurt just doesn’t cut it with motorway drivers after all. Surprised? I didn’t think so.

Now, I’ve got to hand it to Little Chef’s PR manager Richard Hillgrove who’s created a story with this ‘no news’ update thanks to his quote that doesn’t pull any punches:

“His dishes aren’t popular…we’ve wiped him from the menu. Little Chef needs to get back down to earth and that’s what we are doing.”

Hillgrove has essentially blamed Heston for failing to do his job, implying that they’ve had to overrule his poor choices by going back to basics. It doesn’t come into question that Little Chef had bad judgement by agreeing to work with an individual that’s not aligned to its target audience in the first place!

Heston’s publicity team has been quick to respond to Little Chef by dumbing down the Michelin-starred chef’s advisory role, making it clear that after Channel 4’s documentary was aired in 2009 he had little to do with the menu rollout.

Although Little Chef won a place in the spotlight by bringing Heston on board in 2007, no one in their right mind would’ve expected the idea to work. The Fat Duck and Dinner’s success can’t be replicated in a branded greasy spoon because a) no one asked for it and b) it’s the wrong target audience. I assume market research was produce to back this up, so where is it?

Consumers weren’t avoiding Little Chef because its dishes weren’t up to scratch, I expect it was because the venues, facilities, customer service and range of dishes were tired and boring – not broken. Something that Heston wanted to address.

You know as well as I do that celebrity endorsements can work to great effect, if the objectives, strategy and tactics are all aligned.
But, because this activity was doomed from the start, Little Chef is back to serving Olympic breakfasts and its customers can relax knowing they’re getting the meal they’ve always wanted.

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Extreme Meadowland has a strong message

17 May

I’ve previously said that it’s hard for the hospitality and foodservice industry to run sexy PR campaigns, but it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try.

Earlier this year, Pelican PR celebrated new research that showed that frozen food was on the up by using a wall of ice to attract attention to its client – the British Frozen Food Federation. But, I think Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) – the brand behind the Ambu-lunch – has gone one better.

With a chance to go viral, UFS has created six videos to demonstrate Meadowland’s, a dairy cream alternative, strength. Here’s a taster to whet your appetite:

The quick clips – packed with some smooth ‘slow-mo’ action – bring the metaphor to life that Meadowland is tough and won’t split when cooking, by putting it to the limit with a car, bench saw, angle grinder, chain saw and axe. And boy does it hold up!

Aimed at chefs, working in restaurants, pubs, canteens and hotels, that tend to be big personalities that run on adrenaline, it had to be hard hitting and appeal to their ‘need for speed.’ And Meadowland doesn’t pull any punches by challenging chefs to take it to the extreme.

The YouTube films are strong – just like the message it wants to convey – and chefs would be mad not to want to watch, request a sample and experiment in the kitchen with this kick-ass product.

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