Tag Archives: dinner

Birds Eye turns dinner time into a fairy tale

7 Sep

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I’m the sort of person that takes zero pride in my crockery, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see the value in Birds Eye’s latest PR campaign – which sees children’s stories written on plates.

The brand has teamed up with author Roger McGough to write seven new stories, which’ll be printed onto 250,000 plates with Birds Eye’s mascot Clarence the Polar Bear, to make family dinners more enjoyable.

Now I might not be the right age for this campaign, but it’s definitely fun, educational and credible which ticks the right boxes for parents. And it drives brand loyalty by encouraging people to collect the story book set.

Now plates are useful and go hand-in-hand with the product, but to stand tall as a campaign with legs I’d like to see Birds Eye think ‘books’. Linking with World Book Day or the National Literacy Trust, in an education tie-up, would make this more than a just a regular PR idea. With the School Food Plan seeking ways to ensure that healthy and wholesome school meals promote children’s health, happiness and performance, Birds Eye could also leverage the campaign in foodservice. Eat a nutritious, balanced meal to aid concentration for reading. Simple.

In addition to this, if Birds Eye continued to work with authors to inspire its story collection, it could form part of a corporate pledge to help children improve their reading ability across the country.

It’s not a criticism, just an idea that could grow. Stories are nice to have on plates, and on this occasion drive sales, but the brand should also be thinking how it can extend the chapter.

But, it’s always nice to know that one of my favourite agencies is still causing PR and marketing mischief in the industry.

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This is NOT a Royal Baby blog: Waiter, is that an iPhone in my soup?

23 Jul

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I use my iPhone all the time. It’s the first thing I check when I wake up and the last thing I look at, at night. I tweet, blog, Facebook and Snap Chat – and I’ll do whatever the next big thing is.

I don’t get offended by people checking their phone when they’re with me – it’s about staying connected and being involved in a conversation at that very moment. I’m always telling my friends that the great thing about social media is that it happens in ‘real time’. I can enjoy a conversation with someone on the other side of the world and not have to wait around for a reply, but feel assured that they are online and I know chatting will be as easy as if they were next door.

So, I’m not surprised that new research commissioned by Mars, part of Nestlé, has found that a fifth of young people check their phone at the dinner table. But I’m shocked that it’s not more than this, what with ‘tweet what you eat‘ trends taking off on social networks, encouraging people to share their dishes with the world.

The art of conversation isn’t dying, it’s just changing. Gone are the days of crafting a careful text to get great value from your 10p SMS that communicates everything you want to say in 160 characters. More often than not they’re now free so we can say as much as we want without spending a dime. Even Whatsapp, Twitter and BBM encourage people to make conversation little and often with as many friends as they can think of.

What would be interesting to find out is if the research applies to families eating at home or dining out. Yes, more people are eating in restaurants, pubs and hotels as cheap treats during the continued effects of the recession. But cheap as the occasions may be, to me it’s still a treat and I’d be less inclined to search the web or take a call if I was there.

The article on The Drum doesn’t go into detail of many other findings from the research. It makes me question if Mars got the results they expected – because I can’t see many other pieces of coverage online.

It’s also a strange time for this research to be revealed. It comes weeks after Jo Clarke made the news when she was refused service in Sainsbury’s until she ended her phone call – which led Nick Clegg to call for gadgets to be banned from the diner table. I can’t imagine Mars wanting to put the issue into perspective for political reasons. I’m also not sure how it links back to their brand – and if this was a theme among any of the questions asked.

Overall, at first glance, this activity has little PR benefit for the business and just reiterates what we already know. Agreed?

How often are you on your phone? Is it rude to scroll through messages when eating out?

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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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