Wednesday, 4 March 2015

How Jamie Oliver can teach us more than how to just cook Carbonara

A chef. A restaurateur. A business man. An author. A TV personality. A campaigner.  A publisher. A brand.

Yep, there’s no denying it. Jamie Oliver is one busy lad.

However, if you peer beyond the flannel button-ups, cheeky grin and cockney accent, do not be fooled, as this “boy next door” is definitely no accidental global sensation.

British Chef, Jamie Oliver – More of a brand than a chef, Source: Daily Mail UK

Unlike many of his British counterparts such as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, Jamie’s journey as a chef hasn’t been trickled with Michelin Stars or public tales of Kitchen Wars. Indeed, it could be assumed that if an almighty cook-off were to take place, Gordon and Heston would probably win through food tales of foams, confit and multisensory cooking techniques. However, if we were to compare the size of each chef’s global empire, the significant advantage old Jamie has stems from a marketing and branding strategy that is characterised by rigid discipline.

“Jamie Oliver” the brand follows a classic character archetype of being an “everyday guy - who just happens to be a passionate everyday chef.” Creatively, this identity has been executed both visually and consistently across every brand touch point around which his friends, fans and future customers interact. 

His marketing team have leveraged the concept of content marketing to an entire new level by focusing on traditional story telling techniques that enable the reach of his brand to go beyond cultures, geographic locations and personalities. Furthermore, by implementing a personalised communication strategy that plays throughout his business, brand, social media, books, press and even clothing attire, it enables customers not only to recognise what his brand is about, but most importantly, recall it during a decision making process. Like any strong relationship, the value proposition that is fundamental to Jamie’s overall success is that his fans feel as if they are learning from a “friend they know well and can trust”.

Indeed it is clear, Jamie Oliver is man with a very clear mission. Yet there are some pertinent facts that all of us as marketers could take away from the branding successes that this original “Naked Chef” has had. Yes, we all know attention to detail and creativity within a kitchen is key, but when assessing a brand’s overall marketing and communications strategy, there maybe one or two points we could take from their books.

Food for thought … Marketing 101 from a chef’s perspective:

Chef Rule 1: Freshness of Ingredients
Using stale produce, ingredients or vegetables in a dish are as detrimental to a chef's or a brand's reputation as having a stale online presence, imagery or collateral.

Chef Rule 2: Availability of Produce
Utilising limited / exclusive produce for a dish raises the overall value of the final meal. Similarly, strategically limiting the overall exposure of the brand within the appropriate target audiences increases the overall value of the produce / brand.

Chef Rule 3: Price

Using cheap or discounted produce or ingredients devalues the overall value of the final dish that a chef serves. In the same way, if the pricing strategy of a menu or product doesn’t correlate with the brands positioning strategy, this once again will devalue brand from the customer’s perspective.

Chef Rule 4: Customers
A dish is always created with a specific customer in mind. The chef would assess how the meal would integrate with the values, lifestyle and attitude of their customer base. Similarly, a brand’s website / digital presence has to be created with the intention to build and develop a consistent online community - a community of not only fans of the brand, but eventually also friends of the business.

Chef Rule 5: Partners
For any chef, the produce suppliers they work with and the partnerships they forge with them are key to the overall success of their restaurant and business. Similarly, the success of any branding strategy is dependent on selecting marketing partners (photographers, graphic designers, strategists, creatives, etc) who share similar values and goals. At the end of the day, your final dish is only as good as the suppliers that are used.

Natasha Menon
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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