Thursday, January 31, 2008


At lunch today the subject turned to food. The rice was undercooked, but that was just normal for the client office restaurant. But I was reminded of two basic marketing areas, and another one has just occurred to me now.

1. Brand value:

One person commented that he had eaten a particular brand of pie only once and had fallen spectacularly ill immediately afterwards. He had never touched that brand again. Now that brand is well-known and respected, and I would have thought that if you must have a pie, then at least choose a well-branded product. But first impressions count and the guy's reaction was perfectly understandable.

2. Product Currency:

A second person at the table recently got married. Between the reception last Saturday and the vultures in the office, we have polished off most of the wedding cake. However, pre-deep-freeze tradition dictates that a piece of cake is saved for a year. But I really don't think a year-old cake would be too healthy.

Yet sometimes the "maturing" of a dish is what provides its special flavour. We can create a new more valuable product in the eyes of the consumer by appealing to grounds of tradition and maturity, regardless of its intrinsic value.

3. Lying in advertising:

And coincidentally Bill Poser at Language Log brought up exactly the same subject only yesterday. He provides an excellent analysis of how deteriorating food sometimes becomes valuable delicacy. He started his analysis with a recipe printed in the New York Times, the dish was called "Olla Podrida", that means "Rotten Pot", the etyomology has been verified.

Yet the author of the Times article admits: she and her consultants and editors were aware of the correct name and etymology but thought that some readers might be put off by the notion of rotten food, so they changed the name a little and made up a fake etymology.

So the restaurant owner is quoted as saying: "Olla means pot, and the original name was olla poderida, which comes from poder, which means strength"

But if the newspaper editors were the people who changed the name, then how did the restaurant owner who sourced the dish provide that quotation?

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