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Posted on Thu 13th Mar, 2014 in: Industry Comment by Jenny Wilkinson

There was outrage earlier this week when rumours surfaced that food bosses looked set to bin Mr Kipling's "exceedingly good cakes"? strapline. Fans across the country took to social media to protest following an interview with the Daily Telegraph, by Premier Foods' chief executive Gavin Darby, where he said it was "possible" that the strapline - devised in 1967 - may be absent from a forthcoming marketing push for Mr Kipling. Talking about the £20million makeover, which will see new packaging and advertising for the brand, Darby was pretty elusive about the strapline, and journalists were quick to turn "possible"? into certain. And consumers were quick to believe it. I guess it didn't help that the news came less than 10 days after another 60s marketing icon, Captain Birdseye, was axed as the face of fish fingers. Who would have thought that, in the space of 10 days, two of the food world's iconic brand identities could be assigned to ad-land's archives after 47 years? While the brands do have strong identities, are the owners right to consider ditching them in a bid to chase a new audience? Created in 1967, "exceedingly good cakes"? helped to launch a new cake brand, and helped make Mr Kipling's fruit tarts and baked slices the number one in cakes since 1976, with the products bought by nearly 60pc of UK households each year. MrKiplingPi_479 However, the financial crisis at Premier Foods, which also owns Ambrosia and Hovis, in the last few years has seen a lack of marketing budget spent on the brand. Now, the cake sector is a £1billion category and is high on Premier's focus for 2014 - hence the new marketing push. It takes a long time for a brand to become recognisable via a slogan or strapline, 47 years in Mr Kipling's case. If you say "exceedingly good cakes"? people instantly recognise Mr Kipling as the brand, so why would Premier consider losing such recognition? As many brand consultants know, it's a risky business dropping a brand strapline and if you're not careful you risk upsetting customers. The problem with iconic and well established brands is that people take them to heart and feel a sense of entitlement and ownership. And when you remove or change it, unless you've consulted with consumers and involved them in that decision-making process, you risk alienating them. All of us in the marketing industry repeatedly talk about establishing and building a meaningful brand relationship with consumers and customers. And when you have such a well-established connection, surely it's more advisable to look at maintaining and building on the following the brand has and start the next chapter of the current relationship, rather than starting all over again and expecting people to accept it? As a consumer I think the brand does need some TLC and would benefit from a redesign to bring it up-to-date, but they should keep some of the heritage intact, at least to help consumers still feel a connection with the brand. That said, there was similar outrage earlier this month when news broke that the bearded sailor Captain Birdseye, who had starred in adverts since 1967, had been axed as part of a £16million campaign. Captain Birdseye This is the third time Captain Birdseye - whose catchphrase 'Only the best for the Captain's table' - has been given the cold shoulder. In both cases the decision to revamp the brand with a new ad campaign is about targeting the "modern family"? to boost flagging sales. However, Birdseye has made the interesting decision to depart from an identity that pushes a message about product quality - a bold move where price and quality are still key factors in consumer purchasing decisions. Having seen some of the new adverts I think they're well scripted and work (speaking as a time poor mum). For me the new campaign offers a clearer and more relevant product identity. It will be interesting to see the new designs and direction for Mr Kipling and I hope it works - I'm rather partial to a cuppa and an exceedingly good cake.  

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