So, let’s play “Guess that brand?”

So, let’s play “Guess that brand?”

 

Guess the brand

How many clues do you need before you can name this Great British brand?

  1. It was created in 1908 at 19 Granby Row, which if you don’t know, is in the centre of Manchester

 

  1. Its inventor was (John) Noel Nichols

 

  1. Noel was at least in part inspired by the Temperance Movement

 

  1. It contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants

 

  1. He first registered a trademark for his new brand in the medicines class, that was in 1912.

 

  1. Early claims included that it “eliminates that out-of-sorts feeling” and gives the drinker “vim & vigour”

 

  1. In 1913 it was registered as a beverage for human use, not alcoholic, not aerated and not medicated.

 

  1. It was originally available only as an herbal tonic

 

  1. Nowadays it is available in cans and bottles and as a draught soft drink in pub and as a sweet and an ice lolly.
  1. In the 1990s, print advertisements featuring the cartoon character Purple Ronnie were used to promote the brand

 

So how many clues did it take you to guess the brand? Or have you still not got in?

 

Well the biggest clues are in the sixth statement and the eighth.

 

 

 

 

The brand name was originally a combination of one of its benefits and what it was – “Vim Tonic” which was shortened to become VIMTO.

A Latte for Jiles and a salad for Kylie Minogue.

A Latte for Jiles and a salad for Kylie Minogue.

strabucks wrong

I have bought quite a few cups of coffee in Starbucks over the last couple of years and, more often than not, I have then been asked my name.

They have never got it right.

I’ve been Charles, Jules, James, Childs, Jiles and perhaps more confusingly, Nigel

Not once has someone been able to get Giles right, even when I have spelt it out to them.

So, their attempts at personalisation have backfired on me, rather than feeling more special, I’m either left feeling a bit frustrated or a bit of a freak.

For a while I wondered if this was just something that happened to me and that I was particularly unlucky.

Then one day my son spontaneously mentioned the same thing often happened to him.

Ewan, for that is his name, is clearly smarter than me.

Nowadays, he doesn’t even bother to try and get them to use his real name.

He calls himself “Fernando” after Fernando Torres and more often than not, they get this right.

WB-birchanger-green-325x365

I asked some colleagues at work about their experience and a number of them mentioned Tossed Salads.

It’s clear that Tossed have either been speaking to Ewan or have come up with a similar ‘solution’ for themselves.

When you order your salad to take away in Tossed, you are allocated a famous person’s name rather than being asked your own name.

Tossed receipt

It avoids all the difficulty of trying to spell out your name but also has the potential to make you smile.

Ollie was clearly amused when he became Barbara Streisand.

Tom and Susannah enjoyed their time as Kylie Minogue.

And the moral of this story is that I’ve decided to add Tossed to my portfolio of places for lunch and am going to name myself ‘Bruce’ (as in Springsteen) in Starbucks.

A name that will make you smile, I’ll drink to that

A name that will make you smile, I’ll drink to that

buy-a-raasay-distillery-cask

 

I’m far from being a whisky connoisseur but I do know that when a new distillery wants to produce its own whisky it will take some time. Legally the spirit they distil must mature in oak casks for three before it can legally be called “whisky”.

The first legal distillery on the Isle of Raasay, in northwest Scotland near Skye, began distilling in September 2017, which means the good folk there won’t be bottling the first legal Isle of Raasay Single Malt Scotch Whisky until 2020.

This left them with a challenge. They needed to find other sources of income to help keep the distillery going.

raasay-distillery-blog-the-heart-of-the-distillery

Visitors are therefore welcomed to tour the distillery and are encouraged to stay at Borodale House, the newly restored Victorian-era villa that now serves as a luxury whisky hotel, executive lounge and visitor centre.

In addition, they bought in some malt whisky from another distillery to demonstrate their whisky skills and to create a taster of what’s to come. In the case of the Isle of Raasay Distillery they blended two expressions from one distillery; one peated, one unpeated and then finished it in French oak Tuscan wine casks.

Creating this type of whisky is not anything new, it’s similar to what many other nascent single malt producers do.

For me the stroke of genius and the real distinctive comes in the name.

WWW

They called it, While We Wait. When I first heard it just made me smile.

Having now tried the whisky I can tell you I think it’s pretty good too, but as a self-confessed non-connoisseur don’t just take my word for that, it’s won numerous awards.

 

Is this a trend I see merging

Is this a trend I see merging

the old and the new

It is always exciting to see the front cover of your soon-to-be-published book and doubly pleasing to see how it is establishing a theme for my books of brand tales.

The ‘old’ book, “How Coca-Cola took over the world” which features 101 tales about all aspects of marketing and branding has been on the market for a couple of years. It’s still available if you haven’t got your copy yet!

The new book, “Inspiring Innovation” has 75 tales all focused on innovation and is published on March 21st

The brand that keeps on giving – one for one

The brand that keeps on giving – one for one

toms

What would you do if you went to Argentina on holiday – learn the how to tango? Have a go at the national sport – polo? Or maybe just spend your time enjoying the many different Malbecs… Well when Blake Mycoskie went there in 2006 all of those were on his ‘to-do’ list but it was chance meeting towards the end of that holiday that was to shape his future and be the inspiration for a hugely successful brand.

While away, Blake had added alpargatas to his wardrobe – soft, casual canvas shoes which seem to be worn everywhere on the streets of Buenos Aires. It did cross his mind that maybe the alpargatas would have some appeal in the United States, but he just put the idea on his mental ‘one-for-later’ list.

So perhaps this was in the back of his mind when he had a chance encounter with an American woman who was volunteering on a “shoe drive”. This was a concept that Blake knew nothing about. She told Blake that it was basically a charitable initiative to collect shoes for the many local children who didn’t have any.

She went on to explain an unforeseen complication, namely that as the organisation relied on donations they had little or no control over when the money came in and if shoes were donated what type and size were given. Many were simply far too big for the children who needed them most.

Blake hadn’t realised the problem and decided to do some of his own research. Traveling from village to village he quickly saw for himself the severity of the situation and the many downsides of being shoeless: the blisters, the sores, the infections.

He decided he wanted to do something about it. He briefly considered setting up is own charity but didn’t think he would be able to create anything on the scale that was needed.

An idea did however dawn on him – what if he could create a for-profit business which would have as part of its business model a means to help provide shoes for these children. The core principle would be a simple One for One. For very pair of shoes bought, one would be given to a child in need. If it worked, it could create a constant flow of shoes, not just whenever people decided to make a donation.

one-for-one

Even though he had no experience and no connections in the shoe industry or business in general, it felt so right, he was sure he could make a success of it. He even had a name for the new business. He’d been playing around with the phrase ‘Shoes for a Better Tomorrow,’ but that became ‘Tomorrow’s Shoes’ which in turn became TOMS.

Alejo, his Argentinian polo teacher, and a friend, came on board as a partner and played an essential role with contacts and translating. After many meetings they finally found a local shoe maker called Jose willing to try and answer their somewhat loose brief – a more comfortable and durable version of an alpargata, but also more fun and stylish which would better suit the fashion-conscious American consumer.

AshCanvasMen'sClassics

Working with Jose and other local crafts people they got 250 samples made, which Blake stuffed into three duffel bags before setting off back to L.A. Recognising his lack of contacts he decided to ask some friends over to dinner and pick their brains. They loved the concept of TOMS, and loved the shoes too. They helped him draw up a list of stores they thought might be interested in selling the product, and even better for Blake, they all left that evening wearing pairs they had bought from him.

A website was launched and orders trickled in and it soon become apparent that TOMS needed more in-store, on the street presence.

Having tried phone calls and e-mails without success, Blake decided he needed to get ‘out there’ in person. He packed up some samples into one of his trusted duffel bags and set-off for ‘American Rag’ which was one of top stores on the list his friends had created. He was still worried that TOMS would still be just one of many new ideas the buyers would be seeing but straight away it was obvious that the buyer loved the idea. American Rag quickly became TOMS’ first retail customer.

Another break followed soon afterward. A leading fashion writer for the Los Angeles Times, Booth Moore, heard about the shoes and the story and loved them both. A few Saturdays later TOMS was headline news.

Sales rocketed and by the end of the day, TOMS had received 2,200 new orders!

However this level of success was a double-edged sword. They only had 160 pairs of shoes in Blake’s apartment which served as TOMS office. What’s more they had been promising four-day delivery.

Blake had to act quickly and immediately posted an ad for interns on Craigslist and soon had three new colleagues. They spent their time calling up or emailing the people who had ordered. They explained the situation, letting them know their orders wouldn’t be coming in the next four days but in fact might take up to eight weeks. Amazingly only one person out of those 2,200 initial orders cancelled, and that was because she was leaving for a semester abroad.

More media coverage followed with articles in Vogue, Time, People, Elle, and Teen Vogue. The retail customers expanded to include Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters and it wasn’t long before celebrities like Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, and Tobey Maguire were spotted around town wearing TOMS.

TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes that first summer and donated as many to those children in Argentina.

Footnote:
TOMS has now given over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. TOMS Eyewear has been lunched on the same ‘one for one’ principle. Since launch 400,000 people have had their sight restored or improved through the provision of prescription glasses, medical treatment and/or sight-saving surgery.

TOMS eyewear

Like water off a rocket’s back

Like water off a rocket’s back

space heroes

Even before WWII, The “Space Age” was an established genre in fiction and popular culture. Buck Rogers made his first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929 and the Flash Gordon comic strip was first published on January 7, 1934,

However, after the end of WWII, things really started to take off in the aerospace industry – both metaphorically and literally – as new technology, missiles and rockets were being rapidly developed allowing people to fly further faster.

In 1950 the UK got in on the space hero act with the first appearance of Dan Dare in the Eagle comics, soon to be followed by a daily dramatized version on Radio Luxembourg

Perhaps partly inspired by these three superheroes, but also recognising a potential gap in the market, three friends, Norman B. Larsen, Gordon Dawson and John B. Gregory, launched the Rocket Chemical Company on September 23, 1953.

What the three men saw was that while incredible new machines were being invented they were all made of metal, and metal rusts, so if they could come up with a chemical compound that would keep the newly invented rockets and missiles from rusting it should be a winner.

Chief Chemist, Larsen knew that the secret would be to find a substance that could displace the water, stop it from clinging to any of the many metal surfaces’ rockets had. The aim was to get the water to roll harmlessly away, like water off a duck’s back.

The three men set to work developing new compounds and testing them. None of the first ten showed any promise. The next ten weren’t much better. Still no luck by the time they reached thirty. They kept going but then with formula forty they finally found something which worked beautifully. However they had not only created a successful compound but found their brand name – ‘water displacement, fortieth attempt’ or WD40 for short.

WD 40 original

The first company to use WD-40 commercially was, as the founders’ had hoped it would be, a real ‘rocket’ company. Convair, an aerospace contractor bought it to protect the outer skin of the Atlas Missile.

atlas

As sales grew so did the uses. Workers at the factory started to take samples home and applied it all around their homes, using it as a protectant, solvent, and all-purpose lubricant.

By 1955, Larsen and the team realized they might have a market for their compound that was much broader than the aerospace and defence industry. It led them to develop an aerosol can version.

In 1960 the company had more than doubled in size, growing to seven people, who sold an average of 45 cases per day from the trunk of their cars to hardware and sporting goods stores in the San Diego area.

A year later the first full truckload order for WD-40 was filled. It was for a special event and required all the employees to came in on a Saturday to produce additional concentrate. It was all for a good cause though the WD40 was used to recondition flood and rain damaged vehicles after Hurricane Carla had struck the U.S. Gulf coast.

WD40 range

Nowadays it’s an iconic brand with that market, and the yellow and blue can is found in 75% of American households.

It’s known as ‘the can with a thousand uses’ and while many are obvious a couple of the lesser known instances include when a bus driver in Asia used WD-40 to remove a python, which had coiled itself around the undercarriage of his bus and when police officers used WD-40 to remove a naked burglar trapped in an air conditioning vent!

A travelling brand?

A travelling brand?

duncan-hines-cake-mix

Two of America’s biggest baking brands are named after people – Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. The former was invented by a marketing department (and whose story I have previously told), but Hines was real person.

However, he didn’t have the credentials you might have expected to be the face of such a famous food brand. He wasn’t a chef or even a keen amateur baker. He was a traveling salesman for a printing company.

There are some question marks about his taste too. In 1946 he was interviewed by Life magazine and as well as saying he liked to drink neat gin or whiskey, he also explained that he enjoyed “Mrs. Hines’s cocktail.”

What’s wrong with that you might ask until you hear the ingredients of that particular cocktail. It’s made from the juice of a watermelon pickle, a whole egg, cream, gin, grenadine, orange-blossom honey, and lime juice!

Yet Hines was for a while America foremost food critic. How did that happen?

Duncan and Florence

The clue was his job. As a travelling salesman Hines did just that – he travelled. He averaged 40,000-60,000 miles a year and when on the road, he ate most of his meals in restaurants and diners. What’s more he and his wife, Florence, loved to travel on weekends and then to they often chose to eat out.

After eating all those restaurant dinners and lunches across the country and across the years, Hines had discovered where the best places to get a meal were and where you should avoid. He and Florence had an idea they start compiling a list of recommendations of their favourite restaurants in various cities and towns around the country.

They sent it to friends as Christmas gifts.

adventures in

His friends loved it so much that in 1935 Hines signed a publishing deal and turned his travels into a book; “Adventures in Good Eating. Book”. He became a best seller. One of the reasons for its success was at that time in the United States, there was no interstate highway system and only a limited number of restaurant chains, except for those in large, populated areas. Therefore, travellers depended on meals at local restaurants and a book of honest recommendations was welcomed.

In 1938 he released a second, companion book; “Lodging for a Night”. This reviewed hotel and motels and suggested where travellers might like to stay.

In the 1940s, Hines the started a newspaper food column, “Adventures in Good Eating at Home”, which appeared in newspapers across the US three times a week (on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). The column featured restaurant recipes, adapted for home cooks, that he had collected during his nationwide travels.

Hines was now one of the country’s most trusted food critics.

A roadside sign advertising Duncan Hines' Adventures in Good Eating is on display at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.
A roadside sign advertising Duncan Hines’ Adventures in Good Eating is on display at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.

Moving from recipes to products was therefore a logical next step, and while Hines is most famous as a cake-mix, the first foodstuff bearing his name was actually an ice cream. The Lehigh Valley Cooperative Farmers dairy of Allentown, PA, started churning out Hines-branded ice cream in the summer of 1950. The treat was an instant success and helped convince Hines that licensing his name was a viable business strategy.

In 1952, Duncan Hines made his first move into bakery products introducing Duncan Hines’ bread in partnership with Durkee’s Bakery Company of Homer, New York.

A year later, Hines sold the right to use his name and the title of his book to Roy H. Park, forming Hines-Park Foods, which in turn licensed the name to several food-related businesses.

The cake mix license was sold to Nebraska Consolidated Mills in Omaha, Nebraska, which developed and sold the first Duncan Hines cake mixes. In 1957, Nebraska Consolidated Mills sold their cake mix business to Procter & Gamble who expanded the brand to a national market, adding more related products.

The mixes were a huge success and now almost every American knows his name but few know the back story.

And the moral is that trust can be earned in all sorts of ways and once earned is incredibly valuable for brands

The story of Oswald, Charles, Ub, Hugh, Lillian, Mortimer and Al.

The story of Oswald, Charles, Ub, Hugh, Lillian, Mortimer and Al.

MM

The soon to be nonagenarian Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney are synonymous. However the tale of the birth of Mickey is full of other interesting characters and some lovely little plot twists.

Trolley_Troubles_poster

Oswald and Charles
The story of the world’s most famous mouse starts with a rabbit – Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was a cartoon character created by the Disney studio for film producer Charles Mintz, who distributed the resulting films through Universal Studios.

In early 1928, with the series doing good business, our hero Walt Disney goes to our soon-be-exposed-as-a-‘villain’ Charles Mintz and asks for an increase in the budget.

Much to his surprise and anger Walt’s request isn’t met with enthusiasm. In fact he is asked by Mintz to take a 20 percent budget cut! Mintz points out that not only do Universal own the rights to the Oswald character but that Mintz had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to new contracts.

Walt refuses a new deal and only returns to work to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owes Mintz.

The fight back beings
Disney dusts himself down and decides to start again. He sets up the new Disney Studio, where he is joined by a few of those who have remained loyal to him. They included animator Ub Iwerks, an apprentice artist, Les Clark and Wilfred Jackson an animator who would go onto become an arranger, composer and director.

One thing Disney makes sure of, having learnt from his recent experiences, is that he should own all rights to the characters produced by his company.

Ub-iwerks

Ub and Hugh
So Disney asks Ub to start work on developing new characters and Ub tries sketches of various animals including dogs and cats, but Walt rejects them. Ub then draws and likes a female cow and a male horse but these too are rejected, though they would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar.

A male frog is also rejected. It would later show up in Ub Iwerks’ own ‘Flip the Frog’ series.

In the end the inspiration comes from Walt’s past and from a tame mouse which would visit him at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City.

It was there in 1925, that Hugh Harman another animator drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. Ub comes across those drawings and is inspired to develop a new mouse character, which Walt loved.

Mortimer and Lillian
Walt named the new character “Mortimer Mouse” and while his wife, Lillian, loves the character she hates the name. She convinces Walt to change it. The new name was “Mickey Mouse”.Planecrazy01

Al

The first film featuring Mickey is ‘Plane Crazy’. It isn’t the immediate success everyone hopes for. It is made as a silent film and given a test screening on May 15, 1928, but doesn’t impress the audience and fails to pick up a distributor.

In the meantime Walt goes to see The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. He comes out inspired and commits himself and his team to producing the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. This film is ‘Steamboat Willie’ which features not only Mickey but Minnie Mouse too. It proves to be an enormous success becoming the most popular cartoon of its day.

Walt
Walt is involved in all aspects of the film development, co-directing it but in one regard it is all him. Mickey is voiced by Walt himself, a task in which Disney takes great personal pride.

It’s a role he will continue to play until 1946, by which time he was becoming too busy with running the studio. However, he will still do occasional stints and performances.

mortimer

The return of Mortimer
Mortimer makes a comeback as our second ‘villain’. In 1936, in ‘Mickey’s Rival’ the world is finally introduced to a character called Mortimer Mouse.

Where Mickey is short, rounded, sincere and a little clumsy, Mortimer is tall, has whiskers and a much more pronounced snout, complete with two prominent front teeth. An appearance that for some makes him look more like the ‘rat’ he is shown to be.

In the film Mortimer gate-crashes a picnic Mickey and Minnie are having and starts sweet-talking Minnie, who initially enjoys all the attention. Mickey is naturally jealous. Things change however when Mortimer’s antics annoy a bull, and Minnie’s life is put in danger. Mortimer flees, leaving our hero Mickey (and his car) to save the day and his beloved Minnie.

Happy birthday
Since then Mickey has gone on from strength to strength and continues to be a huge success. In 1978, he becomes the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and on November 18th 2019 he will reach the grand old age of 90.

He has a place in many people’s hearts but none more so than Walt himself who said “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Footnote: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Carl “Rudy” Ising would go onto found the Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio,

Sharing Knowledge

Sharing Knowledge

Giles book

Sharing knowledge can a great gift and a great pleasure, there is the wonder of learning something new and the joy of passing on what you have experienced and learnt.

Sharing knowledge is the mission of LID Publishing, who have been kind, some would say foolish enough to publish a couple of my books (including The Prisoner and The Penguin) and together we’re in the middle of producing of a third.

LID Publishing are commemorating 25 years in publishing since their ‘beginning in Spain’ in 1993 and to celebrate the milestone they have published a book entitled “250 Insights”.

It is a compilation of insights drawn from the work they have done together with authors, thought leaders, and experts in their field. I’m delighted and honoured to have been included – you’ll find me as Insight no.5. Congratulations and thanks to them

 

@LidPublishing #250Insights #SharingKnowledge #books #personalgrowth

 

 

Who ate all the pies

Who ate all the pies

FB pie

Sometimes you are told a story but there is no way you can check it.

The story I’m going to tell you is one of those but it has the ring of truth. It instinctively makes sense, so I hope you’ll forgive if it’s not completely true.

It a story about Fray Bentos pies, one of the those brands from yesteryear which you think might have died out long ago but is in fact still going strong

However before the story, one fact which you can check out is the brand isn’t named after a cattle town in Argentina. Fray Bentos is in fact a port in Uruguay, where the products were originally processed and packaged.

Fray Uraguay

Anyway, back to the story.

“Barry”, let’s call him Barry because I think that was the name of the brand manager who told me the story, was worried. The cost of steak had gone up again and he was concerned that if he put the price of his steak and kidney pies up then sales would fall.

So before he went to his director he thought he ought to see if there were any other options. He undertook a full review of all the ingredients and all the manufacturing costs. It was then he noticed that the cost of the kidneys was much less than the cost of steak.

S&K

Working with the brand’s development chef and the factory he produced a new pie which increased the ration of kidney to steak but would mean he could keep the price the same.

Nervously Barry and the team sent out the new Fray Bentos pies to the supermarkets.

At first nothing much happened and Barry was relieved but then something strange happened, sales went up. Thinking it was blip Barry didn’t take much notice, then sales went up again, not much but definitely more than they had been and what’s more they stayed up.

Barry was surprised, pleased and above all curious so decided to do a little research.

What he discovered was in hindsight self-evident. People who bought steak and kidney pies, did so because they like kidney, if they didn’t they could buy other steak, steak and onion, chicken pies.

Barry and Fray Bentos had given them more of what they liked so it was no wonder when they discovered it they were pleased and bought more.