PETER YORKE ON ADS

No 109: COSSE & BLACKWELL
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The Independent Culture
CROSSE & BLACKWELL is a brand that may mean very little to anyone under 30. But in the Sixties it fought head-to-head with Heinz on the grocery shelves. When the battle was all about things in tins and jars, C&B was in there pitching with its baked beans and its salad cream.

But in the Seventies and Eighties, as multiple retailers took over the grocery trade and made their own brands the priority, Heinz held on by investment in product development and advertising while C&B appeared to wither into a marginal role. Advertising allowed Heinz to talk directly to consumers. It meant shops had to stock Heinz. Lack of advertising hastened C&B's decline.

Now, very late in the day, C&B seem set on making themselves famous again with a TV branding exercise, presumably provoked by research showing it's now or never, as the Thora Hird generation moves over. It's all built around the "aka" notion - the contrast between the "real" and the familiar names of well-known people and things.

Thus the riveting thought that Bobby Davro is really called Robert Nanleville or that Big Ben is properly known as the Westminster Clock Tower. And from there by analogy to the compelling thought that C&B also manifests in earthly form as Waistline salad cream, 3-minute noodles or quick-mix Hollandaise. In other words, while C&B may have disappeared from view it lives on in famous and fascinating products.

Well I never. But you can't see the younger Brooksiders reeling back at this revelation. The true parentage of Waistline seems a matter more germane to, say, a Cultural Studies dissertation on the secret life of Minnie Caldwell. In a world in which Heinz is into Health and Tesco into pre-packed trimmed game it seems slightly beside the point. If, however, the object is to persuade Madge Allsop to retain her confidence in C&B over cheaper own-brands, or to persuade retailers to keep stocking the brand, then it may just make sense.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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