January 7, 2020
Maine Food A to Z: Our Annual Commentary on the Annual Roundup
We love almost everything about this piece published last week by The Portland Press Herald.
A made us sad, but D made us happy again.
We were psyched for our friend Josh Rogers at Heritage Seaweed about E.
We had no idea about the Han Solo Le Creuset roaster lid mentioned in G for Gadgets, but OH OUR GOD IT’S AWESOME.
We’re big fans of J and M, and not to give you any ideas, but we might start our own combo dessert/mocktail truck.
We say a mighty Y-E-S to Q, and love that Maine is leading the way in so many of these important areas.
We’re super bummed about L and T, but we completely agree on Y that it’s funny hearing folks from away mispronounce the names of Maine’s cities, towns, restaurants and bars.
We only have two suggestions…
For F, as much as we know that “Financing” is important, we would have selected either (or both) Fork Food Lab or Full Plates Full Potential. With very different missions, each is trying to address key issues facing Maine’s food ecosystem, which is something we give an F about (sorry, couldn’t resist).
And finally, it won’t come as a surprise to any regular readers that we think “N” stands for “Nourishing.” All trends point to people seeking comfort and community in their food choices.
Food & Beverage marketers, take heed (and give us a call).
November 22, 2019
Here’s Why We’re Prepared to Declare Thanksgiving The Most Nourishing Holiday.
We were as happy as warm pumpkin pie to see this article in the NY Times today, and this quote “Gathering is good for our body and our spirit.” was the french vanilla ice cream on top.
And that was before we got to these gems:
Robin Dunbar, emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, offered this about food and alcohol, saying that they, “probably lift you onto a platform, but the behavioral synchrony from conversation or singing or whatever you care to do lifts it into a completely higher plane.”
Author Priya Parker added this, “If you’re the host, how do you create meaning in those first few moments?” she said. “You go stand by the door and give your guests a hug. You get them a drink. But, at some point, ding your glass and let everybody know: ‘Hey, you belong here. It’s not an accident that you’re here.’”
And sociologist/author Dr. Alice Julier says that the need for connection, is “part of humanness.” There’s a tension, she said, “between the real need for ritual and a real desire to be in my pajamas with my dog and cat. But my sense is that we need both right now. The idea of being social is work. It’s a type of labor we have to do as humans. But the great thing is, it has its rewards.”
Don’t know about you, but we’re on a bit of tryptophan high after reading that.
The article is as good a testament to the power of the #nourishingapproach as we’ve seen, and we’re glad the word is getting around.
Gather your friends and family around you and have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
November 8, 2019
Data data data. Just as important in F&B marketing as great flavor flavor flavor.
Our friends at The Hartman Group in Seattle really know their stuff. So can you blame us for tapping into their deep wealth of knowledge and experience about the trends in food and beverage marketing? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
This quick sample was our first dive into the Hartman vault, uncovering some compelling insights including the fact that 80% of primary household shoppers shop at 3+ channels each month. 25% of retail channel shoppers have shifted online for their big stock-ups. And 65% of consumers say they always have a beverage in hand. Which explains why I typed this with just one hand, which wasn’t easy.
Having access to this kind of rich and topical information allows us to work more closely with our clients, and to be true partners to them, going well beyond just simply providing creative for their ads to providing nourishing solutions to their biggest challenges.
You can check out some of Hartman’s publicly available infographics here: https://www.hartman-group.com/infographics
If you’d like to speak with the team at Hartman, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll gladly put you in touch. I’m sure they’d be psyched to hear from you, and also sure that they’d be able to help you out with whatever your research needs are.
Of course, if you’d like to speak with us, or work with us, we’d also be psyched about that. That same email address will get you to our President (& Chief Nourishing Officer) Matt Stiker.
November 1, 2019
When Jason Gay Writes about Halloween Candy, We Pay Attention
Three of our favorite things in one post. Jason Gay, Halloween candy (with an appropriate and notable focus on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), and having fun with our kids.
Or wait, is it making fun of our kids that’s our favorite?
We can’t remember.
October 28, 2019
People Don’t Hate Ads. People Hate Bad, Repetitive, Irrelevant Ads. Can You Blame Them?
We’re not particularly interested in wading into politically-charged waters here, but when we read the headline of this article we can’t help but think “fake news.”
It’s not that we disagree with everything the article says. In fact, we believe Joanna Coles, former chief content officer of Hearst Magazine, is correct when she says that the current state of people’s dismay with much advertising is “all advertiser’s fault,” but we vehemently disagree with her over-generalized perspective that “People hate advertising.”
As our President Matt Stiker argued in a recent Muse article, well over half of Super Bowl viewers watch that program for the ads, and those 50 million-plus people expect it to be a showcase for the year’s best advertising – and you’re telling me people hate advertising?
No, the problem, as we perceive it anyway, is that “the industry” (led by multi-national agencies and clients) is looking in only one direction for the solution. More data, they say. More centralization of operations, they spout. Or, as P&G’s Marc Pritchard suggests, “We tried to change the advertising ecosystem by doing more ads, and all that did was create more noise,” he said.
Wait, what? Who in their right mind ever said the solution was MORE ads vs. BETTER ads?
Sheesh, and we think politics is messed up. We think more brands oughta take a #NourishingApproach.
October 9, 2019
All due respect to Navin R. Johnson, our name was in “The Muse“ – we’re somebody now!!
“This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, your name in print, that makes people! We’re on the internet. Things are going to start happening to us NOW.”
And with that prophetic (wait, did we misspell pathetic?) paraphrasing from “The Jerk,” please allow us to share some of the most exciting news of the year that wasn’t about the new phonebooks arriving.
This article about our agency and our Nourishing Approach appeared in The Muse, and we were thrilled at the response.
It was a great cap to a terrific year, in which we picked up assignments or AOR relationships from nourishing brands including Allagash Brewing, General Mills, Louisiana Fish Fry, Wyman’s Fruits, and many others.
To close off this article with another nod to Steve Martin in that iconic role, we have found our special purpose. And it’s nourishing the brands that nourish people’s lives.
September 24, 2019
Client Success = The Most Nourishing Thing Of All
We love when our clients do well. Really love it. So we were thrilled this morning to open up Seafood Source News and see that My Fish Dish, from our client Bristol Seafood, was just named to the annual list of Top 25 North American Seafood Suppliers.
Now this is not just any annual list of Top 25 North American Seafood Suppliers. This is the list that Seafood Source believes are “the Top 25 seafood product innovations that have transformed the North American industry – and will continue to do so moving forward.” And without trying to give away too much, the article goes on to say, “Seafood Source encourages the use of this Top 25 list as an inspirational resource that reflects the modern industry and consumption trends paving the way for seafood’s promising future.”
DANG. We love that. We’re so proud of them and so happy to have been their partner on this product, bringing our #NourishingApproach to their naming/branding, packaging, website, advertising and POS/in-store signage. And, to repeat what our friends at Seafood Source had to say, we will continue to do so moving forward. Congratulations, Peter and Iréne and everyone at Bristol.
July 11, 2019
Bon Appetit loves Portland, Maine. Portland loves Bon Appetit. A match made in foodie heaven.
After the last Bon Appetit article, you know, the one this past September that proclaimed Portland Maine as America’s Best Restaurant City of 2018, we weren’t sure we could love Bon Appetit more. And then, earlier this week, they ran this gem by Adam Rapoport.
Note to Adam: Not too much to say about the article other than LOVE, LOVE and LOVE. We pretty much agree with every choice – except a) we dig the hand-scooped cones at Beal’s as much as we dig the soft-serve, b) if you didn’t get to Captain Sam’s or Mt Desert Island Ice Cream (the other two brilliant spots in Portland’s Old Port), well then you need to, and c) we think next summer you need more than a day or two. I mean, since you’ll be driving and all, might as well make a week of it. You can stay over at our place if you need somewhere to crash. Plenty of space for Simone and Marlon, too.
You’re also welcome to bring Andrew Knowlton. We gotta lotta love for him, too. Hell, we’ll buy you all an ice cream, and we’ll even let you pick the place. As long as it’s one of those three. Or Toots in Yarmouth. Or Willard Scoops in South Portland. Or the Mosquito in Raymond. Or, hell, maybe the 5 of us just go on a Maine ice cream binge and try ‘em all? You just let us know.
We only have a beef with one thing: the little off-hand afterthought mention at the end that you’re friends with Jason Gay. Jason Gay of the Wall St Journal. Jason Gay of the often hilarious and even more often spot on sports editorials in the Wall St Journal. Jason Gay of the book “Little Victories,” which we flew through in one sitting because it’s just that damn good. WE ALREADY LOVED YOU, WHY YOU GOTTA DO THAT, TOO?
But hell, bring him along on our ice cream binge, too. Guy probably needs a break from sports, anyway – a visit to no-pro-sports-town-Portland might just give him a little perspective. With sprinkles.
May 30, 2019
Our best new business strategy? A sublime blend of Yoda, Nike and former HP CEO Meg Whitman. Yep.
We were asked recently what our best new business strategy is. And while there are many different ways to define “best,” for us the answer to the question is easy and obvious.
The story starts, oddly and randomly, back in 2010, when Meg Whitman lost in her bid to beat Jerry Brown to be the Governor of California.
WAIT. WHAT?? Has the GM team been taking extra advantage of the newly-passed Maine law allowing for the sale and use of CBD products?
Nope, we assure you that’s not the case, and that it will all make sense. But allow us a brief digression before we get to the Moxie story.
Back in 2009, Ms. Whitman threw her hat in the ring as the Republican contender to become California’s next governor. For a predominantly blue state, this was a big deal, because not only was she younger, wealthier and more female than her Democratic counterpart, but Brown had a lot of very public baggage from his time both as the state’s governor in the 70s/80s and also from having been the Mayor of Oakland. A dedicated public servant with a lot of accomplishments to his credit, for sure, but you can’t have that much time in the public eye and not have baggage.
But then – and this gets us every time we tell it – Whitman spent $140 million of her own money on the effort, more than any other self-funded political candidate in U.S. history, and ultimately lost to Jerry Brown. Let that sink in – she spent $140 million, primarily on advertising to tell people what she’d do for them, and lost. Lost the cash, lost the race. Ouch.
And all we could think of is that if WE had Whitman’s $140 million, she’d have been sitting in the governor’s mansion, no problem. And we wouldn’t have spent a dime on advertising. Kindof antithetical for an ad agency, we know. But hear us out.
When a client gives a typical ad agency a budget, the ad agency thinks, naturally, of making and placing ads. Horses for courses, as they say in England. Or, as is also commonly heard, to a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
But the word “typical” is the key – the worlds of marketing and consumer behavior have become too overwhelming to do anything typical. Typical = invisible; typical = meaningless; typical = the opposite of “safe,” because it’s inherently (and unbelievably, and unnecessarily) risky to do something that is likely to fail.
That’s why we would have approached this problem differently.
We would have taken half of that money – $70 million, split it right down the middle – and we would have presented it as a gift to the LA school district saying, “Never have another teacher worry about buying crayons or coloring books or Kleenex again, they should be thinking about teaching, not about whether they have enough school supplies.” And with that gift, the goodwill generated amongst parents, teachers, teachers’ unions, etc. would have been overwhelming.
Then you take the other half, find some northern California community whose infrastructure is crumbling, or one which was significantly impacted by a recent natural disaster (plenty of that to go around, sadly), and you donate $70 million to them, not with the intent to have a bridge or highway named after you, but to simply show them the power of doing instead of talking about it.
And then you sit back, let the press and the pundits have their say, and you watch the votes roll in. Not because you pontificated from a pulpit what you WOULD do if elected, but because while the other candidate was doing that, instead you SHOWED the voters what you’d do. You showed them by actually doing it, and by demonstrating that with the right approach, the right attitude, and the right person, really important things can get done.
You showed them your moxie.
Okay, now fast forward to last Fall. Coca-Cola is in the process of purchasing many of its regional brands, ownership of which is held by regional bottling companies. Moxie, one of the oldest of those brands with deep connections to Maine (happens to be the Official Soft Drink of our state, TYVM), is on the list.
And what do you know, sitting on the desk of our Chief Marketing Officer as we’re reading this news was an antique embossed Moxie bottle, given to him as a gift by his father 20-some-odd years prior with, almost assuredly, a note saying something Dad-like, such as, “You’ve got Moxie, son.” Or something maybe more clever than that. But also maybe not.
Anyway, it felt like a sign that perhaps we should DO something about that. Not talk about doing it, not call Coke and tell them we wanted to do something about it. No, we had master Yoda’s words echoing in our ears, “There is no try. There is only do.” So we decided to just simply do something.
In that very meeting, we locked up the Instagram handle @moxie_unofficlal, and over the Fall, in between the normal paying client projects and work we were doing on our own brand, we made time to populate the handle with what we thought was pretty great content. We developed a variety of different strategic approaches based on our knowledge of the brand and conversations we were having with local retailers and drinkers of the fine beverage, and just started doing. And having FUN doing it.
We figured at some point we’d find a way to connect with the right folks at Coca-Cola, and of course we hoped it might eventually evolve into a relationship with Coke of some kind, but that was secondary to just simply wanting to work on a brand for the fun of it. So unlike Whitman, we did.
A few months later, at a CPG convention in Las Vegas, one of the speakers was the head of e-commerce for Coca-Cola. And while in his role not obviously directly connected to the Moxie brand, we thought he might know someone who was. So we stalked him afterwards (#embarrassednotembarrassed), chatted to him about what we were doing and wanted to do, encouraged him to check out and follow @moxie_unofficial, and he said he’d be glad to see what he could do to help.
The various regional brands and businesses were being assimilated into the Atlanta HQ at a ridiculous rate of speed, so we know it wasn’t easy to track down the right people. But after we sent our contact a Christmas gift of an antique Moxie bottle which held inside both a letter we wrote as if it were penned by the brand’s founder Dr. Augustin Thompson, and a zip drive containing all of the content we’d created to that point, he sent a note back saying he was re-committing to getting us into the folks managing the brand.
Within days, he’d found the person and put us in touch. And within a couple weeks after that, we were on the phone with the newly-installed Director of Sparkling Brands, who oversees not only Moxie but also most of the other regional brands as well as the non-Coke-branded beverages. Holy cow.
It was a great call, with her acknowledging and appreciating the initiative (as well as the “force of character, determination, or nerve” to do what we’d done), which was very affirming. And while we’d love to end the story with “We won the Moxie business,” that chapter hasn’t been written yet. But it also wasn’t (really) the point. The point was to DO. The point was to see if by DOING, we could create a reaction. And to some extent, the point was to actually live the principles of the brand, in this case Moxie.
So even though we haven’t yet been “elected,” with all due respect to Ms. Whitman, we showed off our moxie, we didn’t spend a dime, and we were able to create some positive coverage. We’re taking that as a win.
As Brian McPherson of GSP recently wrote in Adweek, “These days in advertising, you’re never going to get a green light to do something “crazy” before you actually just go and do it—that’s why it’s called crazy.”
We agree, Brian. But we wouldn’t call it “crazy.” We’d call it moxie.
May 15, 2019
How does one of Portland’s best restaurants deal with “Locals Season”? They take a #nourishingapproach, of course.
Portland’s population swells quite literally ten-fold in the summer months. Which means that for the places who take reservations (hint: not many), they’re often difficult to get even weeks in advance during June, July and August (hint: call now, we’re serious). And for those who do only walk-up business, you could be waiting for hours (hint: bring a book).
Yes, Portland’s F&B community knows how to make hay in the summer. But in the winter, when visitors are as rare as green blades of grass, restaurants here need to keep a steady flow of guests in order to make it through the loooooooong months of November to March.
That’s why winter up here is what restaurants call “Locals Season.” It’s the time when the locals get to come out and play, when tables are readily available, and the time when Portland’s restaurant and bar scene, if you’ll pardon the expression, is finally their oyster. But that doesn’t mean prying people from their own woodstoves is an easy proposition…
So with that in mind, we teamed up with one of our favorite local haunts to create “Late Nite at Eventide.” With the goal of driving customers to their exclusive menu served only from 9:30pm till close, this video celebrates the magic that only comes out on Portland’s winter’s nights, and it warmly welcomes locals to enjoy the fruits of the local waters as well as the minds and hands of the magicians in the kitchen.
The video ran exclusively on Instagram and Facebook, giving their most faithful communities a glimpse into the vibe of being at Eventide late at night, and by applying our #nourishingapproach, we were able to increase traffic and pack the restaurant during the off season.
Woodstove Schmoodstove, that’s what we always say…
April 24, 2019
Gift Baskets, Schmift Baskets. This Gift Grows Maine’s Food Economy.
As you’ve probably already realized, we’re not like other agencies.
We don’t take just any client from any industry like many agencies do. Instead, we have a point of view about the kinds of clients and the kinds of brands with whom we choose to work.
We don’t expect our clients to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to understanding their consumers. Nope. We think about our clients’ consumers differently, based on research that we conducted and funded, and the audience segmentation study it revealed that affirmed the different ways people shop for, decide on, and consume the foods and beverages they put in their mouth.
And we don’t send our clients gift baskets at the holidays.
We do cool rewarding meaningful shit like this.
This past holiday season, instead of giving gift baskets – hey, nothing against gift baskets, who doesn’t like shelf-stable processed cheese – we made a donation on behalf of our clients to a worthy organization that shares our goals and our values.
The organization: Fork Food Lab.
Six months ago it was almost underwater, due to its previous owner abruptly and unexpectedly announcing it was closing the facility. After a few weeks of scrambling, new (and importantly, local) owners were found, and quickly righted a community that had been thrown off-course by the decision to close. Thanks to new owner Bill Seretta, general manager Jenn Stein, along with dozens of other partners, staff members and food entrepreneurs, Fork Food Lab would remain open and continue its operations and programming.
A pretty inspiring story, to be sure. And with a shared commitment to grow Maine’s food economy and support its diverse and innovative creators, our collective #nourishingapproach means that more businesses and individuals will have more of an opportunity to succeed in a really challenging industry.
That makes us smile, it makes us beam, it even makes us tear up a little. But most of all, it makes us appreciate the clients whose business allows us to do this. Thanks, everyone.
March 27, 2019
(Way More Than) 5 Things To Do In Portland Maine Right Now
Seriously, Forbes? 5? Five is the best you can do? We can come up with twice that number of KILLER things to do on Washington Avenue alone. In fact, go ahead and double dog dare us, because we can come up with ten killer things to do on the NORTH SIDE of Washington Avenue alone…
1. Forage Market. Oh my bagels.
2. Oxbow Blending & Bottle. Live Music Wednesdays.
3. Duck Fat. Traditional Belgian fries.
4. Maine Craft Distilling. Farm-to-Flask.
5. Cong Tu Bot. Hip Vietnamese noodles.
6. Izikaya Minato. Cozy. Japanese. Cocktails.
7. Venn + Maker. Local Home + Art.
8. Shipping Container Retail. Cheese. Eyeglasses. Etc.
9. A&C Grocery. Best damn sandwiches.
10. Portland Gear Hub. Community bike non-profit.
This town, and this area in particular, are booming with creative energy, infused by chefs and makers doing unexpected things and devising surprising concoctions with ingredients that can only come from a place as special as Portland, Maine.
It’s one of the reasons our office is here, located in a former bread bakery right on Washington Avenue (North side!), in and amongst the vibrancy and innovation that surrounds us – we feed off it daily, and our work reflects that experience. It’s the “terroir” of Portland, and it’s fuel for creativity.
Hey Forbes – let us know when you’re ready for the South side.
March 20, 2019
“Let’s have a beer” are nourishing words. Find out why we think so.
This is an interesting must-read article for anyone in the craft beer business, particularly those in marketing. And while the article itself is about one particular brewery, and the challenges that brewery faces in light of competition from “Big Beer,” we’re feeling kinda feisty today and think maybe Adweek could’ve looked east for a more interesting story.
Because while we’re sure that the beers made near the Portland of Oregon are fine, and we applaud the success companies like Deschutes have achieved that have helped forge a market and create an audience for other craft brewers, we’re partial to the beers made in the Portland of Maine, in particular those of Allagash Brewing Company.
They talk about terroir a lot – the idea that something is more special by virtue of where it’s made – and we do, too. We just happen to think that beer made in Maine is made more special in the state that’s the first to witness the sunrise every day. In the only state that has a one syllable name because anything more is excessive. And in the city which has the highest number of craft breweries per capita. Take that, Portland of Oregon (since you already took our name).
As for how it’s “nourishing,” well, if you think “Let’s have a beer” is an invitation to drink yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops, then you’re missing the point of the invitation. Being nourished isn’t just a physical thing, it’s not just about what you put in your body. It’s about the emotional experience around that consumption, around the gathering, the community, the preparation, and yes, even the cleanup afterwards. We know this because a whole bunch of people (1,143, to be exact) told us so in some research we conducted last year. We’d love to share it with you. Let’s have a beer.
February 22, 2019
Nice spot, but we woulda let ‘em eat the cake.
We have to admit something. We saw this article posted about a dozen times across multiple social media platforms the day it ran (which was the day right after the Super Bowl, so three plus weeks ago, but who’s judging?), but we never made time to read it, because, well, we were focused on food and this was about football, so we thought we’d read it that night, and then we never had time to do that, either because, well, food.
We finally read it yesterday and we’re kicking ourselves for not having read it earlier because OH OUR GOD IT’S SO GOOD. Yes, the spot itself is amazing, and in particular it stood out on that day with all those “meh” ads and that “much more than meh” game.
As an agency that specializes in food & beverage brands, we were especially disappointed to see not a single category spot really break through (except of course for the Bud Light Game of Thrones ad – but everything that could be said about that has already been said so we’re not gonna say anything more about it except WOW).
And then when we read this article, we were like, “Welp, nothing more to say here, they pretty much captured it all. Brilliantly. Like, spectacularly and hilariously brilliantly.” But then we realized they left out one really important character, the character that sets up the entire “chaotic, crashing ode to itself and its 100th season.” Of course, I’m talking about THE CAKE.
At :11 seconds in, we get our first glimpse, a foreshadowing of what’s to come. There it is, in all its creamy-white gold-flecked majesty, looming in the foreground while Goodell drones on about something off in the background. At just :11 seconds in, with Goodell talking, I’m already looking for something else to think about, and it’s like the copywriter knew me and knew my heart at that moment.
Now to be fair to the article, they do have the priceless frame of Marshawn Lynch looking at the cake, and they do swoon over the cake a bit by writing “Any frame with Marshawn in it is a quality frame. I chose this one because it speaks to me on a personal level, because this is exactly how I look at cake. This is also how Marshawn Lynch looks at cake, both as someone with a well-documented sweet tooth and as a self-described prestige NFL “Fat back”. I both want the huge football cake for myself, and for Marshawn, golden football and decorum be damned.”
The way Marshawn and the article writer look at cake is how we look at cake, too, but then the article forgets all about the cake and just focuses on the football. And they miss THE MOST TRAGIC PART of the ad, when Von Miller flips Tony Gonzalez into the cake, and Dick Butkus (the guy with the best name ever in football, and maybe in all of sports except for NASCAR driver Dick Trickle) says angrily, “Not the cake!” like he really wanted some cake and someone better bring him some damn cake because he might get mad if they don’t and all these years later there’s a metal sled in a Bears practice facility somewhere that knows what it feels like when he gets mad.
So yeah, that’s the REAL reason we didn’t write about it sooner. Seriously. Hey, @72andSunny, great spot. And @SBNation, great article, except for the whole cake thing.
January 22, 2019
Instagram #foodporn is anything but nourishing. But could it be more so? Find out why we think so.
There’s a battle going on. Not the Washington one that’s sadly playing out across the country, but one that nonetheless cuts to the core of our culture. It’s the battle being waged between substantive and superficial, those things we find meaty and important and central to who we are on one hand, and ethereal and fleeting and sometimes also central to who we are on the other hand. And with both our hands full, nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than food marketing. This Eater article really articulates one of the important discussions taking place in food marketing conference rooms around the country, and begs the question. “Is what we’re making meant to be #foodporn, or is it meant to reinforce more than that about who we are, what we stand for, what we believe in?” More and more
we’re seeing that Millennials are seeking brands that stand for something vs. just sell something. Yet as this article points out, what we don’t see on Instagram, and what we miss in all of the perfectly photo-shopped perfection, is “the actual eating of food.” There’s something interesting there, an opportunity perhaps, to help a food or beverage brand not only show off the beauty of their product, but also tell its story. That’s a #nourishingapproach. Contact us to learn more.
January 18, 2019
Garrand Moehlenkamp Invited to Lead a Panel on “Culinary Tourism” at the 2019 Taste of Maine Chef Summit.
Our Chief Marketing (& Nourishing) Officer Matt Stiker is stoked and honored to have been asked to lead the panel on “Destination Eat & Drink” at the upcoming Chef Summit, mostly because the panelists are a complete bunch of badasses – chef Melissa Kelly, Maine food tour queen Sarah Kneece Hach, rockin’ lobster guy Luke Holden, and F&B guru
Karl McElligott. Looking forward to hearing what they all have to say about culinary tourism – what it is, why it’s so important, and how to fuel it. Thanks for the invite, Rory Strunk! Tickets now available (and affordable!) for the week of Jan 28 – our session is Thursday Jan 31, hope to see you there!
January 15, 2019
Add substantive, wholesome, natural and nostalgic flavors, and get one word: Nourishing.
It took Food Business News 1,145 words in this article to describe 2019 tastes trends that we could have summed up in one: Nourishing. In the quant/qual research we conducted last year with more than 1,000 people, it was pretty clear that the general “disruption” in the world has created a desire for people to get back to more substantive, wholesome, natural and nostalgic flavors.
Far from meaning that people are “hiding,” it simply suggests that at and around the table, as beverage product developer Imbibe states, these flavors “bring consumers back to happier times and ease the mind.” That’s also why we’re seeing Sensient Food Color focus on “helping consumers de-stress, energize or tackle a plethora of other common symptoms of the modern life,” says the company’s Keera Perambula.
In addition, Comax Flavors’ Catherine Armstrong points out that the company is creating “flavorful, better-for-you beverages,” and the same is happening at Sodexo, says Kevin Cecilio, who has “identified fermented foods with perceived health benefits as a trend in the coming year.”
All points to our growing desire to be – and to feel – nourished. For more info about the research, or to see how we turn those insights into brilliant marketing ideas, feel free to reach out to us.
January 11, 2019
Bread, Bread, Bread, Bread, Bread. But Don’t Forget the Wild Maine Blueberries.
We have to admit we were initially distracted by the bread, the bread, and also the bread (man do we love us some bread) in this article by Monica Watrous in Food Business News, but tucked about two-thirds of the way into it is an all-too-brief mention of our favorite health fruit from our favorite home state, with thanks to Melissa Trimmer, of ARYZTA. “Consumer demand for transparency and quality will continue to drive product development in snack foods, Ms. Trimmer said. Ingredients such as wild Maine blueberries, Tahitian vanilla and Belgian chocolate elevate a traditional muffin or cookie.”
Possibly the only thing that could un-dough (sorry) our penchant for pan or our desire for dosa is neither the Tahitian vanilla nor the Belgian chocolate. It’s the wild Maine blueberry. With double the amount of antioxidants and fiber – and half the sugar – than regular blueberries, they’re darn yummy in pies and jams (shout out to Stonewall Kitchen), on pancakes and ice cream, and also wicked tasty in bread. Which, as we already sortof might have mentioned, we’re kinda fond of. So what do we think about bread AND blueberries? Set the oven to 350, folks, it’s about to get nourishing up in here.
January 10, 2019
14 (well, actually 13) Food Trends We Hope Disappear in 2019
EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THIS (well, until the very last point, at which we take enormous umbrage). If the writer had picked any beer other than Miller High Life with which to make his point, we might have agreed. But, and this is an immutable in a world with very few immutables, you don’t mess with High Life. This is the beer that at one point during the mid-70s was within spitting distance of over-taking Budweiser (before the marketing geniuses at Miller introduced Lite Beer and they diverted all their energies toward a watered-down version of perfection – and by the way, I know it was the marketing geniuses because no brewer worth his or her hops would EVER have made that sacrifice).
So when you see it on a menu, you order it, regardless of whether you’re at a wedding or a trendy restaurant, or whether it’s the end of the night or quittin’ time. Remember this – it’s always Miller Time. Umbrage at that last point aside, we freaking love every word of this piece. Nice job, Bon Appetit. You’re killing it right now.
January 7, 2019
Why “terroir” isn’t just about wine. Or, why content is made more special in a place like Portland, Maine.
There is no word in English (or Spanish) that means the same thing as the French word “Terroir.” It’s defined as “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate,” and while we certainly agree with that, and love us some pinot noir, we also think the word in its broadest definition means much more than wine. Some farmers will talk about terroir, too, to explain why their potatoes or tomatoes are so unique and tasty. And we don’t
disagree with that, either, but we happen to think it encompasses not just other products that are grown, but also the way people from a particular place think. If, as the definition suggests, something is more special by virtue of where it’s made, then we’re damn happy to be living and working and creating in this very special spot, a spot that’s referenced in this Harvard Magazine article as “…a destination, beyond lobsters and lighthouses, for people interested in a rich cultural life.” Again, #blushing.
January 2, 2019
We Have A Serious Cheesy Crush on Serious Cheesy Puffs’ CEO.
Okay, we have a serious cheesy crush on Jack Kuo of Fuller Foods. It might be a Portland thing (altho we’re in Maine not Oregon, but hey, we love us some hashtag#pdxcarpet), or how he describes himself in his LinkedIn profile (as “The most badassmotherpuffer around,” and more.). But more likely it’s because HIS SERIOUS CHEESY PUFFS ARE SO DAMN GOOD. Why? Well, it’s the simple list of ingredients he uses (all of which “can be found in a typical consumer’s kitchen”), the care he puts into his product’s development, and their au-natural and deliciously unexpected flavors (sriracha, jalapeno and more – dayum).
One note – although the article from Food Business News refers to the product as “Seriously Cheesy Puffs,” the product name doesn’t have nor require the “ly” at the end of “Seriously.” The correct name is “Serious Cheesy Puffs,” and you’ll only understand it once you try them. Because your reaction likely won’t be “That’s seriously cheesy,” which conjures up un-lick-off-able orange powder on your fingertips. On the contrary, as you contemplate the rich flavors on your tongue and no nasty orange residue on your fingers, your reaction will almost certainly be more like, “Dang. That’s some serious cheese.” Hubba, Hubba, Jack.
December 18, 2018
Your peanut butter in my chocolate? Awesome. Just don’t try the same thing with your marketing.
Creative and interesting food product mash-ups? Count us as fans. We love this article from Food Business News by Nico Roesler, featuring really interesting data and insights from Thomas Vierhile of GlobalData Retail and Sally Lyons Wyatt of IRI. In addition, Anne Field The Kraft Heinz Company and Colleen Hall of Hillshire Brands had great observations on this trend. But dissonant and disruptive food marketing mash-ups, in which CPG marketers employ this same approach to their marketing, combining tastes and flavors and textures of marketing channels and platforms and content, hoping that the combination will provide that perfect blend of “nutritional and indulgent appeal” to their shoppers?
Nope, not fans. In contrast to the commonly-held perception that the way to reach these shoppers is via “disruptive” marketing, we’ve found a better way – instead of interrupting their lives, we align with their needs. Instead of marketing to a target audience, we engage with people. And as a result, instead of creating one-time buyers for our clients’ products, we strive to create long-term believers in our clients’ brands. We call it our “nourishing approach,” and we’re psyched to share it with you. DM us if you’re hungry to learn more.
December 2, 2018
You specialize in making and distributing the best food and drink. We do the same thing, but with content.
This article from Winsight Grocery Business is spot on, and reinforces much of what we heard at the recent (and still resonating) Groceryshop conference – “Retailers are increasingly using digital platforms such as social media and blog posts to market their brands, but some are taking it to the next level with engaging content, specialty newsletters and even online streaming networks.” We know from our conversations with clients that retailers have begun to recognize that part of their role and responsibility in growing their business is to provide their customers with the kind of content that will engage their shoppers, and deepen their relationship and affinity for the brands they sell. But just as ad agencies shouldn’t go into the food business, we respect those brands (and retailers) who recognize they don’t always have the capabilities in-house to deliver the kind of quality strategic and creative messaging that will engage consumers and increase conversion. That’s where we come in, and it’s how we’ve worked with many of our clients over our 30 years in business. Let us know if we can help.
November 14, 2018
Portland Maine voted best Restaurant City of the Year – Bon Appetit
We want to meet Andrew Knowlton. We want to meet (and maybe hug) the writer of this Bon Appetit article that praised Portland as the magazine’s “Restaurant City of the Year” for 2018, and we want to take him out for chili cheese dogs and the butteriest croissants and lobster chips with serrano ranch and Moxie-braised pork belly. Wait, did he actually write “Moxie-braised pork belly”? Why yes. Yes, he did. And we think we might love him for it. In fact, the only thing that prevents us from getting down on one knee is that we think he could have gone on and on well beyond just the two dozen places he includes in the article. We think there should have been a whole special section on
Portland, or maybe an entire issue devoted to this incredible culinary city. Because for every amazing restaurant Andrew included, there are 3-4 more equally amazing that weren’t. Honey Paw, as one example. The menu there changes often, but you can always get one of our favorites – their classic soft serve honey ice cream, covered with a chocolate shell and handful of honeycomb candy chunks. How do you leave that – or Dutch’s, or Slab, or Bao Ba Dumpling, or Eventide, OMG Eventide – off the list? We’ll take you out for a bite, Andrew Knowlton, but you have some explaining to do.
November 6, 2018
What we learned at the inaugural GroceryShop Conference.
Last week, Garrand Moehlenkamp attended the inaugural GroceryShop Conference, and it was, in a word, phenomenal. We’ll be sharing more of our learnings over the coming weeks, but wanted to kick it off with their terrific intro video – like everything else for this conference, the creative visual language was consistent across all their channels, and extremely well done – and also some of the key themes they’re watching that were visible and apparent throughout the multiple days of the show.
One really important theme – “The Power of Brand.” Many retailers don’t have a brand POV; over time as a result of mergers and loss of identity, they have become distribution points – no wonder consumers are seeking different/better experiences; additionally, many CPG brands don’t really “live” – they’re purely transactional – and yet there’s a common acknowledgement that creating more engaging experiences creates higher conversion.
But the time is coming when retailers will say “Selling 103 skus of mouthwash simply isn’t productive;” as a result, amongst the various tools, assets and insights that brands can provide to retailers – a strong, clear and differentiated brand was high on the list.
Consumers are pushing retailers to tell a better and more differentiated story – to give them a reason to buy – retailers need to give CPG brands the opportunity to tell their stories, or they suffer the increasing likelihood that brands will simply spend more energy going DTC.