The marketing men go to work on eggs - again

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The Independent Online
THE EGG, in need of an image makeover since Edwina Currie highlighted its links with salmonella, is to be relaunched as a seductive health food in a pounds 4m marketing campaign.

Launched by the British Egg Information Service, the campaign will begin tomorrow, with the slogan "Eggs - fast food and good for you". It will be the first time in 17 years that eggs have featured in poster and television advertisements.

The reversal of the egg's fortunes can be attributed at least in part to the influence of Delia Smith, the fairy godmother of culinary ingenues.

Her painstaking advice to the nation on how to boil an egg in her most recent television series, How to Cook, was branded "insulting" by chef Gary Rhodes. But it has helped to bring them back into fashion. Indeed, an extra 1.3 million eggs were sold in Britain each day during the BBC series; 54 million were sold in total.

The BEIS is hoping that its campaign launch will create as much of a stir as the "Go to work on an egg" campaign, which the novelist Fay Weldon famously helped to promote as an advertising copywriter in the Sixties.

Its television advertisements aim to show how easy eggs are to prepare. In one, "Fridge Raiders", teenagers are shown cooking a plate of scrambled eggs, and in another, "Apron Strings", the seductive charms of an egg add passion to a relationship.

The organisation wants to promote the "goodness and convenience" of eggs, and cites a 33 per cent drop in human salmonella since 1998 as evidence that they are safe to eat.

The Lion Quality mark is now displayed on 70 per cent of eggs to show they meet higher standards of hygiene and animal welfare than is required by law. A BEIS spokesman said: "The so-called Delia effect helped push egg sales up at the end of last year. We believe the new campaign, combined with the growing confidence in the health benefits of eggs, will help to maintain and increase this interest."

According to Fay Weldon, sex was used as a tool to market eggs during the "Go to work on an egg" campaign, which starred comedian Tony Hancock. "In my day, we had women called 'egg chicks' who would go round houses dressed as chickens, but in high heels and short skirts, showing off their long legs," she said. "If they discovered egg shells in your litter they would give you six free eggs. I objected to the campaign because I did not think it was the right way to go about things. You used to hear them click-clicking round the estates early in the morning."

But she added: "It was a fun time though. We also used to sit with the executives in the boardroom and chant 'Cheep cheep little chicken, lay an egg for me. I have not had one since Easter and I want one for my tea'."

The novelist claims to be an expert egg cook, although she supports Delia Smith's emphasis on culinary fundamentals. "I think Delia is right to teach people the basics. I was taught very well by the lady who wrote the slogan, and I'm very good at making omelettes and scrambled eggs. My favourite, though, is boiled egg with soldiers."

Edwina Currie is a more noto-rious egg expert. Her daughter Debbie once posed in a national newspaper with two fried eggs over her breasts, in honour of her mother's campaign against salmonella in eggs.

The former junior health minister turned novelist has no objections to the BEIS campaign. But she warned: "I never said that people should not eat eggs, just that they should be careful.

"The industry is making progress and they have started vaccinating chickens, but there are still some lazy buggers who will not spend the money to become part of the Lion Mark scheme, just because it costs."

And she added: "I think it should be a compulsory scheme, but at the moment it's still easier to sell dirty eggs to dirty people. I'm intrigued by the idea of eggs as an element in seduction - where are they suggesting one puts them?"

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