New & ImprovedSo many new things ... so little time
December 16, 2004
‘Brussels Sprouts’ lose their identity
Several years ago I remember being on the sidelines of a ‘sprout battle’ in Sainsbury’s as eager shoppers fought over the one remaining container of sprouts on the afternoon of 23rd December. It could have got very ugly as the frenetic shoppers ‘went for it’ in a last bid to acquire this most essential of Christmas vegetables. I stood by, observing a sea of capable elbows thrashing about and thought better of it. I eventually managed to buy some in a small convenience store away from the cut-and-thrust of the High Street.
The Brussels sprout is an enduring component of the traditional Christmas meal. It’s a cliché and a joke, but we do eat them by the ton. Little Britain loves them, much more so than many other countries. They’ve not taken off in the US, though are eaten in other European countries, particularly where the food is traditionally hearty.
I must confess that I’m not a fan. While a lover of vegetables and a regular consumer of cabbage and broccoli, the sprout doesn’t do it for me, though I do sample a few with the Christmas meal. Well you have to don’t you! My Mom would never present a Christmas dinner without them. She used to tell me that they were ‘fairy cabbages’ in a bid to get me to eat them.
I remember ordering sprouts as a starter in a restaurant in Barcelona some years ago. I assumed that the Spanish had a different more exciting slant on the sprout. My Spanish friend was unaware of it as a national dish. I should have taken note of his comment. What arrived was a large plate of boiled sprouts. No dressing, no sauce, no other foodstuff accompanied it. Not even a drizzle of olive oil. Just a plate of miserable looking ever-cooked sprouts.
In an attempt to change my perspective this year I’ve decided I will try some different ways of cooking them in a bid to see if there is way of rendering them delightful to the palette.
The origin of the name ‘Brussels Sprout’ is no great mystery. It’s thought that they were grown around Brussels as early as late sixteenth century. Some botanists claim that it may have originated in the Middle East and have been around since the Middle Ages. The plant is a tall-stemmed cabbage where small heads sprout from the stem. It’s slow growing and requires a chilly autumn to grow.
With our more eclectic taste in food and in a bid to get us all to eat more vegetables, Sainsbury’s have re-named the ‘Brussels Sprouts’ they sell ‘British Sprouts’. The logic is that customer’s want to know the origin of the product. So they are in effect British sprouts. The British Sprout Growers have welcomed the change.
It’s not clear whether the drive is solely a move to promote a British product – if it’s grown in Britain and connotes freshness and local origin – a good thing. Will people buy more, or a move away from a staid image of the Brussels sprout? In effect a sprout by any other name would be more attractive and be seen to taste better.
I don’t know whether the Belgian nation will be offended if we dropped the ‘Brussels’ in favour of ‘British’. Let us hope it does not appear racist or undermine our at times troubled relationship in the EU!
Sticking-up for Belgium, I’ve spent time in Belgium and have enjoyed some really nice food and drink there (though I don’t actually recall seeing many sprouts) I feel their food and drink deserves more recognition.
If sprouts have become unfashionable in the UK is it because of the name, the vegetable itself or as a result of a change in culinary tastes and eating habits? My guess is all of the above, plus a lack of imagination in cooking it. The cliché of soft, overcooked, smelly sprouts is recognised as a part of Christmas.
Will re-naming it encourage sales? I would suggest if Delia Smith and the TV chefs and cooks let rip with imaginative recipes then we might be more likely to eat them more. Let’s release those earthy, nutty flavours rather than boil them out. Can it be curried? What about as an accompaniment to an Italian meal?
Go-on, be imaginative over Christmas with those sprouts!
Information and recipes. www.bbc.co.uk
BBC ‘Campaign for ‘British’ Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Posted by pauline.amphlett at 11:38 AM | Single Article
October 21, 2004
Cancer Research & the youth of 'Today'
Over the past two years Cancer Research has been developing a youth campaign idea and is now launching a scheme called Today, targeting 18- to 25-year-olds. 'Today' will engage a youth market to fund-raise through events and activities with a strapline that asks 'What Are You Going To Do Today?'.
Today, is about doing great stuff and at the same time raising money to crack cancer.'Today' project manager Jo Power stated, 'We wanted to develop a new income stream,' she says. 'Research into perceptions of the younger audience showed that the organisation can appear remote from their everyday lives.'
Although not many 18-25 year olds get cancer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is still important to help lower your risk of developing the disease in later life. We’re all about living for TODAY but making a difference for tomorrow
'Today is for people who have an active social life but would love the opportunity to get involved with the charity if it fitted in with that,' says Power. says Jo Power.
I really like the sentiment of this new name - 'don't put off what you can do today, for tomorrow never comes.' A lesson for us all I think whatever our age. If you would like to get involved please take a look at the the Today website.
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 01:48 PM | Single Article
October 12, 2004
When money comes before inspiration
“The biggest club sponsorship deal in football history,” runs the proud announcement on www.emirates.com. The news that Arsenal’s new home is to be known as The Emirates Stadium for the next 15 years is certainly a magnificent coup for a sports sponsorship agent, but makes me ponder on the role of a stadium name.
There are other examples, of course, of highly visible sponsor names. For example The Reebok Stadium - at least it’s sport related, and the Brit Oval - curiously dull, irrelevant and I expect not overused.
Many of the comments following the Emirates announcement were about naming the stadium after an Arsenal hero – or even Arsene Wenger. I do like the idea of building an inspirational glow around the venue. Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is just a great concept that fills the imagination with uplifting visions. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff has heavy BT sponsorship, but they held back from calling it the BT Stadium in favour of something more dramatic.
A new name for Candlestick Park Stadium in San Francisco may have been agreed just in time, before a public vote to prohibit renaming permanently. The voice of the people will be used to decide whether the name should remain with it’s traditional landmark name or be available to sponsors. Meanwhile, however, a deal has been struck to call it the Monster Stadium for the next four years. It’s not a fantastically profitable deal - $6m over the next four years as compared with Arsenal’s £100m over the next 15, but the sponsors may not be getting the recognition they hoped for. The Monster referred to is Monster Cable Products Inc. not Monster.com, the job search site.
So how do I feel about The Emirates Stadium. I feel it’s an odd choice of sponsor – don’t really get the connection, although I suppose Arsenal has a very international squad (although I thought it was largely French?) and have ambitions to do well in Europe – so they’d have to fly round a bit…However Arseblog (www.arseblog.com) takes a pragmatic view, “I'd much rather we sold the naming rights to our stadium and allowed Arsene Wenger a heftier chequebook than scrimp and save and not be able to provide a team to live up to the standards of what's going to be a fantastic new stadium.”
They also make a good point, “As for the name of the stadium it'll develop it's own fan-friendly name in time, whether that's Ashburton Grove, the Emigrants Stadium or something far wittier than that (which wouldn't take much)." Perhaps all Stadiums (or is that Stadia) have head names and heart names. There’s the one we know we must have to foot the bills, and the one we use.
Posted by kate.fishenden at 04:08 PM | Single Article
September 13, 2004
‘Red Hello again ….OK!’
Another day another women’s magazine – OK, Hello, Red, Company, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Elle and now Publisher Northern & Shell is to throw its hat into the world of women's glossy magazines next Spring, with the launch of a new title and the backing of a multi-million pound television campaign.
The magazine, is going to be called, ‘B Happy’, a monthly magazine which will focus on fashion and beauty and according to the publisher will have "high production values" alongside sister publications OK! New! Hotstars and Star magazines.
I don’t read many magazines but do buy the occasional ‘Red’. It’s not a crime to dream, to have aspirations and to strive for more out of life but to ‘be happy’ in my mind, is not to read yet another women’s magazine and more and more about the latest celebrity diet, the clothes you’d like but can’t afford, the fame and wealth you’re unlikely to have, (unless winning the lottery!) 250 ways to have a better sex life and the continuous thought about how your everyday life is really in fact quite mundane compared to Renée Zellweger and Nicole Kidman!
Articles on how I can look like Kate Moss and the latest gossip on which famous women are pregnant and what they name their babies is fun and fairly innocent and I will be the first to admit that I love reading (now and again) about what the stars are up to and who’s dating and divorcing who! We all do it (and you men out there now saying that you don’t – stop lying….. us girls know you do and we also know that you watch soaps – as you always seem to know what the latest plot is!)
However, I think it’s starting to become an unhealthy past time. We are a generation of people who now never seem contented with what we have, we always want more because the magazines and shows sponsored by them, keep telling us what everyone else has got. Apparently, British people are more unhappy and discontented with life now than ever before.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to live in a fantasy world for an hour or so, but I want to feel great about what I have achieved, not guilty about what I haven't done. When I think of the name ‘B Happy’, I think of the song ‘be happy, don’t worry’ by Bobby McFerrin, which is a great philosophy. We all want to be fulfilled and accomplished in our occupation and our personal lives, but I’m not sure that if I read many more of these magazines I will ‘be happy’! In the Mail on Sunday (12th September) you receive the ‘You’ magazine. This week you had ‘Five steps to a new life’, Beauty news from ‘high society’ and ‘Eat what you sow’ – new recipes from Delia, inspired by the freshly picked veg from her kitchen garden…. I think I am going to start a magazine called ‘Get Real!’
So to all the women out there who relate to what I am talking about, I really recommend ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ by Allison Pearson; very funny, bit sad, but realistic and a great read. Something I’m sure most women can relate to whether they have children or not. Now this book will make you happy…
An excerpt from ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’
Angel wings. Quote for new stair carpet. Take lasagne out of freezer for Saturday lunch. Buy kitchen roll, stainless steel special polish thingy, present and card for Harry’s party. How old is Harry? Five? Six? Must get organized with well-stocked present drawer like proper mother. Buy Christmas tree and stylish lights recommended in Telegraph (Selfridges or Habitat? Can’t remember. Damn). Emily wants Baby Wee-Wee doll (over my d.body). Ask Richard to collect dry-cleaning. Office party what to wear? Black velvet too small. Stop eating NOW. Fishnets lilac. Leg wax no time, shave instead. Book stress-busting massage. Highlights must book soonest (starting to look like mid-period George Michael). Pelvic floor squeeeeze! Supplies of Pill!! Ice cake. Mini party sausages. Present for E’s teacher? And, whatever you do, wean Ben off dummy before Xmas with in-laws……Wine, Gin. Ring Mum, Stuffing, Hamster????
Ring any bells….?
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 03:24 PM | Single Article
July 24, 2004
One of the great benefits of the computer age has to be the de-skilling of photography. Gone are the days of grappling with SLR’s, light meters and the complexity of film speeds, aperture size and the nightmare of the flashgun. We’ve move on from photographs to ‘digital imaging’, from the object to the experience.
I’ve just given away my darkroom equipment that dates back to art school days. The reality is that much as I loved taking photographs and developing and printing black and white films the equipment has moved house with me at least three times and remained in its packing case. It’s gone to a good home, a neighbour who was a photographer and who’s taken it to his new home in Spain.
Idea and reality are different when it comes to photographs. While I rave over the work of Paul Strand, Lee Miller and Weegee etc. The chances of me ever going back to feebly trying to emulate these artistic titans are to day the least remote. It’s not that I don’t value process, I do. It’s just that the space, time and the effort involved in producing it are unrealistic. Then there are the questions of ability and experience. I’ve reached the ‘love it but can’t be a****!’ stage and will content myself with looking at other people’s work in galleries.
One of the great benefits of the computer age has to be the de-skilling of photography. Gone are the days of grappling with SLR’s, light meters and the complexity of film speeds, aperture size and the nightmare of the flashgun. We’ve move on from photographs to ‘digital imaging’, from the object to the experience. From having to spend weeks and months mastering the technical niceties of film to being able to point, click, download, manipulate and email our images. We create little masterpieces in a wonderfully democratic way. We can all let loose our creative spirits and record our world. You can turn out surprisingly good work with not that much skill. You feel enriched by this. It can make you very happy. It’s a shared experience as you email the images almost as soon as they were created.
Brands I’ve favoured in the past are Canon and Pentax but buying digital took me beyond these brands. With a wide range of brands and new players in the market like HP took me outside my normal camera buying experience.
There’s certainly no lack of choice and my recent foray into purchasing took me to shops and took several attempts (reflecting my indecision and the array of choice). There will be an estimated 53 million sales of digital cameras in 2004*. I feel like I’ve seen most of them on Tottenham Court Road.
I thought I could go for a Pentax Optio camera – intrigued that it’s ‘The official camera of the Internet’ (what does that mean exactly?). Then the HP cameras - so un-sexy I didn’t want to pick them up. I purchased a Konica Minolta Dimage Z2 as it provided 4 mexa pixels and 10x zoom – the equivalent of 35-380mm. It’s like a bug and a bit funky. I like it a lot and the website promises DIMAGE Finding your finest images, ‘Mega thrills await you’ – can’t wait. So I bought on the mixture of performance and looks, reassured the Konica Minolta have been in the camera business for decades. The look and feel of the product really mattered – somehow a little silver coloured box didn’t do it for me not even with a nice name like IXUS.
The market for digital camera sales is estimated to rise to 82 million units by 2008. The major players are the established major camera brands Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm and Kodak* (in order of sales). They’re expected to remain the top five.
Sony was one of the first manufacturers to enter the digital camera market and remains the market leader in the US. Their key to success has been in developing storage capacity and delivering the Cyber-shot ® range quickly. Cyber-shot® is Sony’s killer product and the brand name is used across the range from ’point and shoot’ to the professional range. Their cameras are providing healthy profits and enabling it to move product into the emerging Asia-Pacific markets where sales will increase.
In Europe Canon is the market leader with the brand and products “inspiring creativity” being a major factor in their success along with high brand awareness and heritage. PowerShot® and Ixus® provide “the optimal balance of style and substance”. Nice products holding their own against the sexy might of Sony.
The Sony website provides access to a learning centre, information and a Digital University of free educational courses to enable you to get the most from the product. A very Sony approach. Canon have their Canon Image Gateway which I tried to access but was unable to register for online.
A key factor in the opening-up digital technology is the ease with which experience can be recorded and shared. Brands need to have this at the heart of their proposition and express it through their communications.
As most ‘early adopters’ have adopted the technology so sales are moving to mainstream users. The low-end share of market shrinks as consumers purchase higher performance models and the peripherals. In reality the increased take-up of digital camera phones has also eroded the market for low-end models.
It’s interesting that the established camera brands like Pentax and Nikon are not the major players in the digital camera market, although both are important players. Canon and Sony have been at the forefront of technological development. Both brands have change and personal transformation at their heart. It’s about enabling people to produce small masterpieces and be enriched.
The majority of product and range names fall into the types of names used for film cameras, words like ‘pix’, ‘shot’, ‘cam’ ‘opti’ and ‘max’. Kodak have opted for the promoting ease of use and sharing – very much in line with their ethos of making photography available to the masses. Canon’s IXUS goes for the digital/trendy/compact market –the products are nicely designed and look and feel good. Fuji’s Finepix fits with the brand message of quality images, so successful in building their film based business in the last twenty years.
So whether you Finepix or Cyber-shot, Digimax or Easyshare, IXUS up to you – just go out and be creative!
* Source: Infotrends
Mike Mahony’s story at Manchester Online – how sending a digital image can change your life! www.manchesteronline.co.uk/news/s/86/86016_model_mike_dials_a_new_future.html
Posted by pauline.amphlett at 03:53 PM | Single Article
July 01, 2004
"Come on Barbie, let's go party"
How much does a name influence a child when purchasing their toys?
Sugar and spice and all things nice that’s what little girls are made of….? Not too sure about that actually after watching the Money Programme –‘Barbie's Midlife Crisis’ which was broadcast on BBC2 last night (Wednesday 21 July).
It was rather an eye opener as I was never really into ‘Barbie’ when I was little. I had a Tiny Tears, which I broke her leg off (an accident of course) and my mom was rather worried that I really, did prefer my brother’s ‘Action Man’! KGOF (Kids Growing Older Faster) was more evident than ever last night with 5 & 6 year olds talking about their hobbies being ‘eating Spaghetti Bolognese, sleepovers and watching BBC’s Groundforce! Good grief…
Apparently the world's number one fashion doll – Barbie is 44 years old this year, and not only is she going through a midlife crisis after she dumped Ken on Valentines Day, (after 43 years as an item Mattel said they "feel it's time to spend some quality time - apart") but the split may also be related to sales figures in the last quarter - which fell by 5% globally and 25% on the domestic market in the US.
Despite sales of over 1 billion Barbies worldwide, the American icon is facing some serious competition for her fashion doll crown. Mattel announced in April, that their profits had slumped once again by 73%.
So who’s the new doll on the block…?
Well it seems that her main contender comes in the form of, no not ‘Sindy’, but the ‘Bratz’ dolls; Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, Cloe, Meygen, and Fianna. The dolls are designed to be more streetwise and funky than Barbie. Isaac Larian, an Iranian immigrant, launched the Bratz three years ago in the USA. Over 80 million Bratz dolls have now been sold worldwide. In the UK, Bratz owns more than 30% of the fashion doll market and Bratz's UK distributor Nick Austin is confident that their share will grow.
"If you asked children a few years ago what they wanted it was always Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, but that was because there was no competition," he says.
"There was nothing else there and I think this is the first time that little girls have had a real choice on the doll shelves."
But its not just Bratz who want a slice of the UK's £100m fashion doll market, last nights money program interviewed Denise Deane who is planning to relaunch the new look Sindy, Barbie's old rival.
Sindy originally came on the scene in the 1960s as a very British doll with a girl next door look. She triumphed amongst British girls in the 1980s but was trounced by Barbie in the 1990s. Denise Deane, design and development director of Sindy points out that "it's a very competitive time to make a re-launch, but we're confident that we have something unique to offer and that Sindy will be a main player within the doll industry".
So in answer to their competition, Mattel brought out a much funkier range to appeal to an older age group; My Scene. Like traditional Barbie, this group of doll friends, have a love of fashion and offer more accessories. So far their strategy seems to be working; launched in 2002, their sales increased by 380% in 2003.
As I sat and watched this very interesting program I thought, I think there is more to just the ‘trendy’ new doll and the updated designs. I think that the name 'BRATZ', is fantastic, it changes a childs perception of that toy. Barbie and Sindy sound so girlie and sweet, whereas BRATZ sounds cheeky, naughty, spoilt and denotes an air of 'if I want it - I'll have it now....' attitude. eek!! ‘The girl with a passion for fashion’. Even the website (http://www.bratzpack.com) is so hip and funky it uses words such as ‘chillin out…’ (although I must warn you that although this site has very cool music, it does drive you insane after five minutes of looking!).
Even the names of the Bratz dolls have cool and trendy names – names that ‘you’, might even use when naming your daughter – I mean, I might name my daughter Cloe or Jade, but I certainly wouldn’t name her Barbie or Sindy, because to me and to many young girls, it just makes you think of the plastic doll, a doll with too much blue eye shadow and look where this has got her – she’s now single!!
Don’t get me wrong, the design (and as we found out last night from the girls aged 3 to 8), and all the different accessories, are most important to their purchasing decision, but the name wasn’t mentioned at all and I feel wrongly so. Choosing a name for a brand or company is the single most important marketing decision you will make and usually survive corporate identity programmes, visual mark changes, pack redesigns, brand positioning re-jigs, brand value shifts, chief executives, marketing directors and brand managers…
“In the long run a brand is nothing more than a name”
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Barbie is clearly not ready to hang up her fashion doll crown just yet and despite the increased competition, Barbie is still a bigger brand than most. It will be interesting to see how the new improved ‘just like me’ Sindy impacts on the toy market but Tim Kilpin, Mattel's senior vice president of girl's marketing, says Barbie’s position is secure.
"We're very confident that we can continue to prevail and continue to be the number one girls brand in the world," he says.
We’ll have to wait and see but I wish them well. I have no doubt, she will continue to date and meet the man of her dreams, but if Mattel want a naming agency to ‘name’ her boyfriends, I know that we can come up with some rather more ‘hip’ and ‘happening’ names than Ken! (Apologies to anyone called Ken!) So give us a call.
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 04:36 PM | Single Article
June 22, 2004
It's a funny old name...!
This coming season football sees some of the most dramatic changes since 1992-93. It’s not caused by the mighty purse of Abramovich, or Rooney’s stunning metamorphosis into a footballing god – but by some tricky nomenclature.
The changes do seem, however, to be inspired by the twinkling of £££££ signs. The most significant change happened on the 11th June, when the Football League announced that it had rebranded as part of its new deal with headline sponsors Coca-Cola. The first division will be re-named ‘The Coca-Cola Football League Championship’, whilst divisions two and three will be known as ‘Coca-Cola Football League One and Two’.
Coca-Cola has cottoned on to the fact that The Football League, is celebrating its highest attendance figures for 40 years, with football players becoming the new ‘popstars’ of our day. My 15 year old niece doesn’t have pictures of ‘Blazin Squad’ or the boys from ‘Blue’ on her wall, she has Thierry Henry and Beckham!
‘The Football League has signed the largest title sponsorship agreement in its history with Coca-Cola Great Britain. The new partnership, at the heart of the country's best loved sport, will run for three seasons from the beginning of the 2004/05 campaign. The agreement, representing our Company's biggest ever commitment to domestic football, will help bring excitement and enjoyment to the game via the League's 72 clubs’.
‘The partnership confirms our long-term commitment to football -- Coca-Cola Great Britain has been investing in the game for more than 30 years at all levels from grassroots to international tournaments. We are excited to be associated with The Football League at the heart of English and Welsh domestic football’.
Even the clubs are jumping on the bandwagon. On the 21st June it was announced that Wimbledon Football Club, had changed its name in a bid to build links with the club's new home in Milton Keynes. Wimbledon, will now be known as ‘Milton Keynes Dons FC’.
An official statement issued by the club read; "InterMK (Wimbledon, was recently subject of a buyout by music tycoon Pete Winkleman's InterMK consortium) are pleased to announce that the Football League have granted permission for Wimbledon FC to change its name to Milton Keynes Dons FC in time for the publication this week of the 2004/05 fixture list."
The club added, "We feel that the name 'Milton Keynes Dons FC' will represent the past, present and future of this proud football club and place the club at the heart of its new community."
“We hope that the Club’s fans, both old and new, embrace this new name as we look forward to the Club emerging from Administration and kicking off an exciting new season in Coca-Cola Football League One”.
Clubs are brands, owned not by the Chairman, but really by the Fans. However, this name change - Milton Keynes Dons FC, is a clear attempt to just make money – i.e. avoiding having to build a club up through the leagues. This begs the question – was there a genuine need for a new name or just financial gain? Unlike AFC Wimbledon - the amateur club, formed by ‘genuine’ ‘Wimbledon’ fans - players recruited from open trials on Wimbledon Common when 10,000 potential players turned up – and now gets crowds of 2,500 supporters - far more than the MK Dons FC.....
“Although the new name symbolises a break with Wimbledon's past (the high point of which was a giant killing act in 1988 when the team won the FA Cup against favourites Liverpool) the club has retained some of its old identity with the inclusion of its nickname, the Dons, in the new moniker”.
Football teams historically take on the names of the area they play in and the new name will no doubt please the people of Milton Keynes, but what about the loyalty of their supporters from years past – MK FC may have retained some of its old identity (as quoted above) but probably none of it’s loyal fans!
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 06:21 PM | Single Article
May 17, 2004
The sole of the brand
Why I like the sound of FoodBall is that it seems to really express a sense of Camper-ness. You can feel the attitude oozing through the elements and the rationale, and get a buzz of excitement visualizing yourself sashaying down a sun-drenched street in Barcelona, drifting into a the cool environment and chilling with the cognoscenti.
I noticed a brand extension that I really felt good about this week, and wanted to go to. Camper are opening an environmentally friendly bar/restaurant called FoodBall, in Barcelona or as they put it FoodBALL is neither a bar nor a restaurant. FoodBALL is a food and a way of looking at eating culture. It has been born of the principles of bio construction with the use of non-polluting materials and alternative energies and feng shui. (www.camper.es)
Camper has always captured my imagination as a brand producing really rather odd ball shoes that are fantastically comfortable, distinctive and hip. Quite an enviable and rare combination. Everything associated with the brand feels slightly unconventional but carefully considered and nurtured.
Why I like the sound of FoodBall is that it seems to really express a sense of Camper-ness. You can feel the attitude oozing through the elements and the rationale, and get a buzz of excitement visualizing yourself sashaying down a sun-drenched street in Barcelona, drifting into a the cool environment and chilling with the cognoscenti.
All of Campers offshoots are run directly by the brand and overseen by its owner Lorenzo Fluxa, who set up the company in 1975. This closeness of soul to execution has enabled the jewel of the brand essence to shine through.
In contrast, the wilderness that Marks and Spencer has crossed has forgotten all about what M&S-ness is. In the Evening Standard on 25th May, Anthony Hilton had an insight into why theyve lost their sense of who they are: The lifers who were forced out were the very people who instinctively understood M&S and could have sorted it out. But the search for new brooms means that since they quit there has been no one at the top who instinctively understood what to do.
This instinctiveness is so important in a brand and really divides the brands that have genuine attitude and customer resonance and those that are more pedestrian. I remember when Nike first opened Nike Town in the States there was a frisson of excitement as a branded product took the brave step into the retail environment. Now it seems unimaginable that they wouldnt have their own outlet. Their strong sense of self made the transition coherent and appealing.
What good brand extension does is look at the essence of the brand and ensure that any new offshoots are both consistent with this concept and help to build on it. A good new line can even energise the parent brand so long as its believable. IBMs Thinkpad helped to transform perceptions of the IBM brand itself.
Its tempting to play the game of what brands could develop some new extensions. Smart is a brand full of attitude and philosophy. Id quite like to see how they could extend themselves without missing the real point of their brand. Rather than going for the usual car related extensions such as driving coats and sunglasses perhaps they could try an environmentally aware range of cosmetics in neat little packages, or customisable Wellingtons! But then Im not instinctively imbued with Smart-ness I hope someone is.
Posted by kate.fishenden at 06:40 PM | Single Article
May 13, 2004
Wake up and smell the coffee…
Starbucks, Costa’s, Café Nero, what ever next…. ‘Progreso’
The British charity, Oxfam and one of the UK’s largest independent coffee roaster, Matthew Algie, announced on the 13th May, plans to open Britain’s first chain of fair trade coffee shops by the end of the year in partnership with coffee grower co-operatives. The name; ‘Progreso’
‘The name Progreso already existed – it is the name of an umbrella group comprised of coffee growing co-operatives from a number of countries. Progreso coffee bars in the UK will be run for the benefit of these growers, and so it seemed an obvious choice. We think it communicates the spirit of the company, and its innovative business model. And crucially it worked well when we came to design the branded stuff, shop frontage etc’. Colin Hopkins, Progreso
They recognize that coffee growers around the world are suffering through low prices that have fallen 70 per cent since 1997. The ‘Progreso’ model aims to help redress that balance. This unique project aims to showcase the quality of fairly traded coffees and pioneer a new style of doing business that closes the gap between coffee growers in the developing world and coffee lovers on the high street.
“We will be launching smart, contemporary outlets that provide consumers with fantastic coffee and help growers through ready-made retail outlets. Progreso will have a strong brand identity and its high quality coffee will be the cornerstone of its offering” said Wyndham James, Managing Director of Progreso
I like the name ‘Progreso’ as it gives the feeling of moving forward, progressing, making a stand - and I like what it stands for. However, I have to confess that I am rather a big fan of Starbucks and quite addicted to their café latte’s. Will Progreso win me over with their ethical stance – I’m not too sure as in February 2002 Starbucks became the latest global brand to join the ranks of the Fairtrade Foundation, so maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad about my loyalty to them.
Shopping with a conscience sounds good to me in theory. In practice, though, a shopper's good intentions can be forgotten with the promise of a bargain or a Duetto™Card – the first ever Starbucks Card and Visa credit card in one that rewards you with "Duetto™ Dollars" and gives back to local communities.
‘The first time you make a Visa purchase with your Duetto™ Card, Starbucks will give $5 to ‘The Starbucks Foundation’. This money will be used for grants to support literacy, diversity, and environmental initiatives. Starbucks will continue to support the Starbucks Foundation through regular quarterly donations based on the success of the Duetto™ Card program, so using your Duetto™ Card can really make a difference.
Colin Hopkins says that the response to the Progreso concept has been fantastic, and confirmed to us that there are loads of people out there who will support an alternative business model’.
But is being ethical enough? Well I do hope so, as ‘Progreso’ has a lot to feel good about, and I will give their coffee a try at some point and maybe I will be a convert for all the right reasons. However, until that time, I will feel good about contributing to Oxfam with my black bin liners full of clothes and shoes, as it will take a lot to make me give up my visits to Starbucks, one being a much tastier café latte!
More details about Progreso can be found at www.progreso.org.uk
A few coffee facts…
25million coffee growers in over 50 countries worldwide are dependent on coffee as their main (often only) cash crop.
Fairtrade coffee is the fastest-growing sector of the UK coffee market. In 2003, consumers purchased 2083 tonnes of Fairtrade coffee from shops and supermarkets - an increase of 42 per cent from 2002. Coffee shops sold 385 tonnes of Fairtrade coffee during the same period - an annual increase of 67 per cent.
The history of coffee is as rich as the brew itself , dating back more than a thousand years. The first coffee plants are said to have come from the Horn of Africa on the shores of the Red Sea. Originally, coffee beans were taken as a food and not as a beverage. East African tribes would grind the coffee cherries together, mixing the results into a paste with animal fat. Rolled into little balls, the mixture was said to give warriors much-needed energy for battle. Later, around the year 1000 AD, Ethiopians concocted a type of wine from coffee berries, fermenting the dried beans in water. Coffee also grew naturally on the Arabian Peninsula, and it was there, during the 11th century that coffee was first developed into a hot drink.
The so-called stimulating properties of coffee were thought by many during these ancient times to give a sort of religious ecstasy, and the drink earned a very mystical sort of reputation, shrouded in secrecy and associated with priests and doctors. So, it is not surprising that two prominent legends emerged to explain the discovery of this magic bean.
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 10:00 AM | Single Article
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