Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's yesterdays

I was in Grasmere a few weeks ago and it was fantastic to be eating fresh food again. All the restaurants serve produce from within 20 miles, ranging from Morecambe Bay shrimps to local cheeses. Then there’s the home baked bread, lamb, venison, and beef. The taste of a free-range organic chicken compared to the mass market version is beyond compare. What’s even better up north is that their traditional recipes have not been tampered with. Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread shop in Grasmere is world famous, as is the Kendal Mint Cake, and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding.

These days the shops up here are doing a roaring trade in nostalgia food, drinks, and snacks. The Wateredge Inn pub in Ambleside is offering “retro treats in a basket”. Anyone who grew up in the 70’s will remember them: scampi in a basket, chicken in a basket, and garlic mushrooms in a basket. The good old days.

We’ve just been involved, through Fallon, in bringing back the Wispa chocolate bar for Cadbury. And I can tell you, Cadbury believes this is the most successful launch ever of one of their chocolate bars. Birds Eye has reintroduced Steakhouse Grill and their Arctic Roll frozen desert – both 70’s/80’s staples. Then there’s the dear old great British institution of Marks & Spencer introducing a range of sandwiches with fillings your mother used when you were going to school: strawberry jam, ham and salad cream, and corned beef. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The recession is one driver of the return to old fashioned values, though a desire for security plays a role too. Waitrose is bringing back low cost meat, cold forgotten cuts, and sales of Fray Bentos pies are way up. The foodies, and the critics, may take a dim view of this return to tradition, but they are forgetting that The Consumer is Boss. Bringing back a loved old brand is completely in tune with today’s tough times – reviving yesterday’s successes with today’s marketing tools. Wispa was driven by the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Hundreds of thousands of fans were brought together to produce communications that have already delivered £25 million in sales from a standing start. Now they are trying to convince Cadbury to introduce Wispa Gold.

And let’s hear it too for Vimto and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls!