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Once again the ‘powers that be’ have done something incredibly stupid. This time the humble Cornish pasty has found itself at the centre of a storm of controversy and this great British food fave has found itself on the endangered species list.

The European Commission has just ruled that anything calling itself a Cornish pasty will have to come from Cornwall and nowhere else. The pasty has just been awarded Protected Geographical Indication status.

So what does this mean? Well, the classic Cornish pasty will soon have to have been made west of the River Tamar — which forms the border between Devon and Cornwall. And only here.

This means that retailers such as Greggs now have a problem as its pasties aren’t made in Cornwall. The high-street baker is considering renaming its Cornish Pasty “the pasty formerly known as Cornish.”

Greggs has now applied to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a transition period to allow the business to comply with the requirements. The bakers sells more than 10 million Cornish pasties in its shops each year and will now ask its fans on Facebook what names they would like to see the pasty called. What next I ask? Which other foods will soon find themselves on the endangered species list?

Here’s my foods at risk hitlist – these guys better watch out as they could be in the sights of our European friends…

1) Yorkshire Puddings

2) Lancashire Hotpot

3) Bakewell tart

4) Lincolnshire Sausage

5) Eccles cake

6) Scotch eggs

It’s been going on in film and American TV for years – think everything from James Bonds famous endorsement of the Aston Martin to the Friends gangs sudden switch from coffee to Virgin cola in series 5 (I know, blame E4!).   The announcement of Ofcom’s new and relaxed advertising rules has already been met with much controversy – yet concerns that product placement will reduce the integrity of commercial broadcasting and that it is simply covert advertising by another name hasn’t stopped the fact that paid for product placement will appear on British screens from tomorrow.  After all isn’t this exactly what PR has been doing for years, first in print and now digital and social channels? 

Nestle has already secured the first ever product placement deal with ITVs This Morning as part of a £100,000 three month placement to promote its new coffee machine Dolce Gusto and although Ofcom rules state that all broadcasters will have to display a ‘P’ logo on screen to alert viewers at the start of programmes featuring product placement, and during ad breaks, the tactic opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for brands to engage with new audiences in a more credible way than traditional advertising.

As with traditional PR effective product placement must be subtle and the product must seamlessly blend with the editorial content.  Good product placement will hinge on a delicate balance – it will rely on an appropriate brand and programme pairing which will result in a subliminal hold over viewers that resonates with the sub-conscious, encourages brand loyalty, and ultimately drive sales, without compromising programme integrity.  Crucially paid for placement will need to be contextualised in order to give it meaning.  But remember, if the thought of a caffeine boosted Phillip Schofield sounds too much you can always vote with your remote and switch to the good old Beeb (Dale Winton’s apparent lifetime endorsement of Ronseal not withstanding).

There are still more than 500 days to go until the London 2012 Olympics but I’m already getting excited.

The PR machine has been in full flow over the last few weeks meaning we’ve never been too far away from an Olympic story. Images have been revealed showing how fantastic the venues will look. The event dates and ticket prices have been revealed and even the announcement of West Ham’s post-games occupation of the stadium has kept the headlines rolling.

Excitement is building at a rapid pace and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for it to kick off.

So KFC is dropping its 50 year old slogan ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ in favour of an earth shattering new strapline – the brilliantly original, ‘So good’.

The marketing change comes alongside a planned health move to show the calorie content of all items on KFC’s menus from September.

“‘Finger lickin’ good’ is very good but it’s very food-centric,” says Martin Shuker, chief executive of KFC UK and Ireland. I find this statement somewhat hard to swallow – KFC is a fast food chain!! It’s supposed to be about the food, isn’t it?

This from the company that cleverly rebranded from Kentucky Fried Chicken  to KFC a few years back in an attempt to disguise the fact that their food is FRIED and actually not very good for you at all.

Now apparently the new strapline is all about how KFC will be going all healthy by no longer frying its food in palm oil, sourcing food from the UK rather than Malaysia and reducing the amount of rainforest it is destroying. But there’s just one problem – it’s still fried chicken regardless of the type of oil you fry it in. People who like KFC will still eat it just as they have for the last 50 years. The tagline is irrelevant as the brand is built around one product – fried chicken. Doesn’t get much more food-centric than that.

The marketing men have struck gold again and come up with something that didn’t need coming up with in the first place. KFC – You sell deep fried chicken. In a bucket. By the lorryload. And probably always will.

Yes – those who don’t eat it will continue to question the horrible conditions the chickens are reared in and the ridiculous amounts of packaging used (as all fast food providers are also guilty of). This too will never change. 

One thing I’ve always wondered though –  is it right to eat your dinner out of a bucket? Reminds me of the Monty Python Mr Creosote sketch from The Meaning of Life.

With excitement around the Oscars at the end of the month reaching fever pitch, all the talk seems to be around the battle between the biggies – The King’s Speech, Black Swan, True Grit and The Social Network. The newspapers this weekend were awash with BAFTAs [and Grammy’s] speculation and predictions – the BAFTAs usually seen as a good indication of what will get the golden nod from Oscar. In an interesting move, the Academy has decreed that all Oscar winners will have just 45 seconds to list those they want to thank before the orchestra comes in to drown them out.

For me, one particular nominee creates a potentially very exciting ‘dilemma’. One of the films nominated in the best documentary category is Banksy’s stunning feature ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop.’ Banksy refuses to be shown on screen unless he is blacked out. It’s part of his myth. And he also fiercely guards his anonymity to avoid prosecution. Now what will happen should the film win? And there’s every chance it could. Will Banksy make an appearance? Will he even show up? Will he speak? [Doubt it]. Or will his producer Jaimie D’Cruz do the honours? [Probably]. Or even MBW aka Mr Brainwash from the movie. Is Banksy really Brainwash? Will the academy deliberately avoid any controversy if it’s no longer willing to permit risky speeches lasting longer than a minute?

Will Banksy go down a storm at the Oscars?

 One thing is for sure, if his preparations for the Oscars 2011 are anything to go by, expect the unexpected. Check out what he did [or what Mr Brainwash did] with a wall, a load of stormtroopers and an Oscar in a hoodie.


S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-od the King’s Speech, my fingers are crossed for Banksy’s Exit through the Giftshop.

Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger, the Leeds-based  arm of the Bell Pottinger Group, has been shortlisted for a prestigious Sport Industry Award.

The Proud to be a Potter campaign, devised by the agency’s sports division for client Britannia, has been shortlisted for the Best Use of Digital Communications in Sport award which will be decided in London on 11th May.

The campaign celebrated Britannia’s ongoing support for the club and allowed Stoke City fans to show their support through the creation of two giant mosaic images of star players created using thousands of fans photographs. The campaign leveraged online channels to engage with the audience.

Simon Brown, account director at Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger, said: “Being shortlisted for a Sport Industry Award is great recognition for the work Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger does. The Proud to be a Potter project is a fantastic example of a campaign that drove awareness, engagement and advocacy for the Britannia brand.”

Super Bowl weekend always provides plenty of meat for comment. From Groupons strange decision to use Tibet to drive web traffic to Christina fluffing her lines on the national anthem, the web is awash with points of view.

The success of the VW ad stands out to me as an example of nailing it. Integration of web friendly content (kids and Star Wars) with making a great TV ad has delivered some amazing results. A quick check on Sunday night has 12m hits to the YouTube ad and sharing stats going into hyperspace. Great campaigns come from understanding your audience, generating compelling content and working the media channels hard.

Not bad for a council house in The Sunday Times property pages highlighted that the great public sector sell off has begun.  Auction houses and search websites are reporting that cash strapped councils are putting large numbers of buildings on sale to meet government-ordered spending cuts,  flogging their assets from town halls to old swimming baths.  Although no one wants to see local communities deprived of their facilities these properties are often empty or needing renovation so it means a fresh supply of properties onto the market place and even potential bargains for prospective buyers.  For those looking for character properties and prospective first time buyers like myself time is of the essence.  I’ve already been scouring the property section of Leeds council’s website as I’ve got a feeling that this new influx of properties won’t be on the market for long.

The Super Bowl has always been a must watch TV extravaganza in the US, a truly national event, but this year the lavish spending on tickets, advertising and hospitality has been interpreted by many analysts as a sure sign of recovery from recession, according to The Guardian [Saturday]. Fox Television who broadcast the game live last night to a TV audience of 100m in the US alone was charging a staggering $3m (£1.86 m) for a 30 second commercial, half a million more than the CBS rate a year ago. Sunday’s Superbowl final between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers saw online brokers selling tickets for $2,000 a piece, 12.5% more than in 2010 and rooms in every four and five star hotel in Dallas were sold out weeks before the showpiece event. Let’s see if this really is a true barometer of better economic times ahead across the pond.

In recent years, it seems as though there has been countless causalities due to the rise of the technological age – from the simple checkout being replaced with a ‘self-service’ scanner (whereby there’s guaranteed to be a frustrating ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’), right through to newspapers who have adapted to host a great amount of their content online in order to survive. And now the latest victim of this overwhelming desire to replace everything we know and love with technology is the Great British Library.

This weekend, The Guardian reported that thousands of protestors took part in campaign activity around UK libraries in South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Oxfordshire, following the announcement of the closure of more than 450 library services.

These included a mass ”shh-in”  whereby at 11am protestors made a chorus of ‘shh’s and then cheered for their local library, ‘read-ins’, shelf clearing and a special “flash mob book reading” outside a Cambridge library threatened with the chop.

Now I am a big fan of all things fancy and technological – but why should we ruin something of significance? The smell of foisty old books, the rows and rows of weird and wonderful titles, the complete silence – the whole library experience – shouldn’t be something to be replaced by a little touch type computer or websites which promise to offer downloadable versions of a classic or latest novel. And surely the activity around the country proves there is still a strong love, no matter how dated the decor, for this great British institution.

And if you’re wondering, I’m 22…Not 52!


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