When a recent survey by Hotels.com (August 2012) highlighted that Americans, Australians, as well as Norwegians voted the UK as having the worst local food it couldn’t be further from the resounding endorsement during the recent Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, where the sector was hailed as having the potential to rival our oil and gas industry.
Which presents the truer picture, or the real flavour, of Scotland’s larder? Encouragingly and with a well-stocked store of evidence, it is the latter. When Scotland Food & Drink launched just over five years ago, the organisation’s aim was to support the industry and help deliver a vision to make Scotland Internationally known as ‘A Land of Food and Drink’ and gradually position us as leading food tourism destination.
The industry has without doubt flourished since then and been unwavering in its endeavour to, not only meet the ambitious target to achieve £5bn in annual exports by 2017, but exceed this five years ahead of schedule, with a new target of £7bn now being set. It seems that food and drink manufacturing in Scotland has also outperformed the rest of the UK’s manufacturing output, not to mention Scottish manufacturing and the wider Scottish economy as a whole.
Clearly, the marketing of our produce and what it says about its place of origin, both collectively as an industry and individually as a producer, has and will continue to do much to capture and feed the imagination of our overseas customers. Careful consideration needs to be given as to how we want to position our products or whether in fact we need to reposition them – an area where we can learn much from the whisky industry.
Freshwater’s client, Ian Macleod Distillers, undertook a positioning exercise with its flagship brand Glengoyne, in order to gain a better understanding of the brand and how to help it stand out from the competition. Working alongside Ian Macleod, it is then our role as the comms agency to communicate that positioning to target audiences in the UK and key international markets in innovative and creative ways.
Also operating in the international market is client Drambuie. Its marketing strategy for global travel retail is an integral part of its overall rejuvenation strategy to reposition the brand to appeal to new markets and consumers. Over the last three years Freshwater has managed the launch of three new premium products to this increasingly important duty free market on behalf of Drambuie culminating in the super-luxury Jacobite Collection last October, which retails for £3500 per bottle.
Uncomplicated, creative thinking often achieves the best results. When our client Primula challenged us to develop a concept that would engage existing and new target consumers in a fresh, innovative way we came up with ‘cheese art’. To coincide with British Cheese Week, we worked with a food artist to create a collection of celebrity portraits painted entirely from Primula cheese. ‘Justin Brie-ber’, ‘Lady Gouda’ and ‘Ched-ward’ were unveiled at a consumer event in central London where the public was invited to ‘say cheese’ next to their favourite celebrity portrait and share their pictures through social media.
We are currently undertaking a creative campaign on behalf of one of Trinidad’s finest exports, Angostura Rum. Again, a number of clear tactics, such as sponsorship of Edinburgh Festival hit, The Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol, are helping to drive noise around key launches and introduce the brand to a new audience of professional, young urbanites.
When visitors come to Scotland in 2014, the well-documented year we host the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and second ‘Homecoming’, the aim is that by then many will already have tasted our vibrant produce. And for those overseas guests less familiar with our offering, what greater way to enjoy an authentic and modern Scottish food and drink experience. The courtship of our food and drink is well underway, but what we must ensure if we want to develop a lasting love affair is that marketing and creativity are vital ingredients in supporting brands to tell their story - as the Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food”!
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