Tag Archives: magazines

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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DVD release has people running for their mums

14 Jun

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Hotel chains are definitely upping their game when it comes to PR stunts and marketing campaigns.

It was only last week that I blogged about Ibis’ bunny room and now Holiday Inn has caught my eye.

Holiday Inn Camden partnered with Universal Pictures’new thriller Mama and transformed one of its rooms into terrifying horror experience –
to celebrate its DVD release.

Open for one week only – free to selected guests that booked in advance – the #SurviveMAMA experience promises to ‘shake the public’s nerve and resilience’, throwing guests into key moments and elements of the film.

I salute Fever PR and AtmosFEAR! for putting this together. Now I’m only guessing, but coming up with innovative campaigns to promote DVDs – where the twist or special effects from the film have already been seen – must be tricky with a capital ‘T’. Not only is this experience-led activity attention grabbing, but it also generates unique content.

Clever content is a PR’s best friend when engaging with journalists, giving them another reason and angle to write about the film. The stunt also looks like it was very well executed with authentic props, costumes and scare actors. The video resembles an after hours trip to London Dungeons and I’m pretty sure if I’d gone along I’d have had an accident. But, I’ve never been a fan of scaring myself for fun!

The campaign has generated lots of blog coverage in phase one – inviting consumers to apply for free tickets – but post-event write ups are more difficult to find. I’ve spotted an article on the Daily Express – which might be an exclusive. Besides chasing national coverage, if I was Fever I’d have partnered with the likes of Shortlist and Total Film for additional in-depth features.

But, social media is a different story. Twitter is buzzing with different mentions of the campaign, so with a tight digital evaluation process Fever will deliver an incredible reach for its client – while impressing Holiday Inn (a brand currently missing from its portfolio).

Wise move. Brilliant idea. Great campaign.

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