Shortbread stooshie takes the biscuit

When is a Scottish product no longer a Scottish product? Apparently, according to some, when it is packaged in tin with a Union Jack design.

A storm in a shortbread tin has erupted online after Scottish food manufacturer Walkers decided to sell some of its famous delicacies in containers bedecked in the flag of the United Kingdom.  A picture snapped by a Scot of shortbread on sale in a German airport has sparked claims that the Moray firm is ‘destroying our Scottish brand’, while others have labelled them ‘traitors to Scotland’.

Box of Walkers shortbread – image courtesy of Walkers Shortbread Ltd

Is it really a case that the 120-year-old company has ditched its Scottish roots, or simply that it is aiming to appeal to as wide a market as possible?

Reading some of the comments that have been posted online you’d be forgiven for thinking that the firm had discarded its traditional tartan packaging.  Far from it.  Heading to Walkers’ online shop you are presented with all manner of products which are still proudly bedecked in the famous red tartan everyone has become familiar with.

The Union Jack tin that is causing a shortbread stooshie – Image courtesy of Walkers Shortbread Ltd

Nestled alongside such packaging on the virtual shelves are tins depicting other bastions of Britishness, the Routemaster bus, the black cab and even a red pillar box.  Yet these don’t seem to have caused upset.  And far from ditching packaging boasting the saltire in favour of one with a Union Jack, as has been suggested, the blue and white tin is still available online.

On closer inspection of the photograph that has got some people bumping their gums you can clearly see that sitting on shelves above, and even alongside, the offending tin at the airport are Walkers products in their familiar red tartan cartons.  When you look at the bigger picture it illustrates how the loud assertions being made by some about the firm seem to lack any real bite.

Perhaps those individuals have other more political motivations as one newspaper has suggested, or it is that they don’t want to be consumers who are offered choice.

Offering customers a selection of products to choose from makes clear business sense.  Walkers has grown from simply baking plain shortbread in an Aberdeenshire village into a global brand, respected by consumers around the world for its quality range of biscuits, oatcakes, cakes and tarts.  Alongside its plain shortbread are chocolate covered, chocolate chip, fruit, nuts and ginger varieties.  Would it have achieved such success if it hadn’t diversified its product range?

With shortbread being one of the classic products associated with Scotland, the tourist market is clearly an important one for Walkers throughout Britain and around the world.  Different nationalities will hold different images of Scotland in higher esteem than others, whether that is a Scottie dog, Nessie, Edinburgh Castle, a piper or a Highland Cow.  Being able to appeal to as wide an audience as possible is crucial and if that means using different images on packaging as a marketing tool, then so be it.

Walkers has gained a reputation for offering a quality product.  So much so that its shortbread can be bought online from Harrods.  What appeals to that high-end retailer’s customers in London, and in other businesses in the capital, will not necessarily be the same as what might catch the eye of a tourist visiting Loch Ness or Edinburgh.  Therefore, having packaging to suit different markets makes commercial sense.

A tin of Walkers shortbread © Walkers Shortbread Ltd

The Walkers name and tartan logo is emblazoned on all of its packaging, no matter its shape or principal design, meaning customers are not going to be confused about the product’s authenticity or heritage.  When it comes to marketing and promotion, brand consistency is crucial.

Such has been the stooshie that this picture has created, Walkers felt compelled to issue a statement to underline its commitment to its Scottish roots.  For a firm to be forced into such a statement in response to half-baked claims by a vocal group of individuals with political leanings takes the biscuit.

Rather than berating an important Scottish firm – one that employs 1,400 people and generates millions of pounds for the economy – because it is offering diversity, we should instead celebrate its achievements, its global appeal, its tenacity to innovate and, above all, its ability to look beyond the borders to one country in order to succeed.  After all, a successful economy is in all our biscuit eating interests.

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How to make the most from your investment at Offshore Europe 2017

Preparation and planning for an exhibition is crucial.

As OTC Houston comes to a close the next big event on the oil and gas calendar is Offshore Europe in Aberdeen.

Offshore Europe 2015

If you are a confirmed exhibitor at Offshore Europe, you will undoubtedly have considered your objectives and identified what you want to achieve by exhibiting at the show.

This might be attracting talent for recruitment purposes, to launch a new product or innovation, raise the profile of your brand or to generate new leads – domestic and international.

Whatever your goal, make sure you give your business an excellent likelihood of achieving those objectives by planning for success.

Innes Associates is a team of communications professionals helping businesses like yours stand out, succeed and achieve great results from exhibitions around the world.

Our advice for Offshore Europe is to focus on the following:

  • Plan early.  Setting deadlines helps to ensure each stage runs smoothly from creating content to signing off designs.
  • Define your why. Identifying your key messages will help in preparing all content, resources and tools which promote and sell your business before, during and after the show.
  • Stand out in the crowd.  With over 500 exhibitors and attendees from more than 100 countries, make sure your brand, stand, people and products are prominent and memorable.
  • Inspire your team. Employees who show passion and enthusiasm will make your stand more welcoming and approachable.  We can deliver training for presentation purposes and exhibitions.
  • Read all about it.  If you have a great story to tell, there are many PR opportunities that we can help you tap into to ensure that you attract plenty of attention throughout the duration of the exhibition.
  • Get noticed.  From getting social on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and sending email campaigns to showcasing demonstrations or presentations on your stand and appearing on OETV.  Need some help? You can contact us for any assistance.
  • Take the lead. You’ve done the leg work, now make it work for you. Ensure you have a mechanism on your stand to capture leads and that your team know about it.  Also, walk the floor, set up meetings, seek out customers and suppliers, and find out what your competitors are doing.
  • The show’s not over. The exhibition has gone well and you’ve made new contacts and captured lots of data, now don’t let that hard work go to waste. Follow-up leads and hold a debrief with your team.

If you’d be interested in speaking to us about how we can help you get the most out of exhibiting at Offshore Europe don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01224 452177.

Based in Aberdeen we can provide local, hands-on support for all your OE2017 exhibition, marketing and PR needs.

Backing Buy North-East Initiative

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce has launched a new campaign to persuade businesses in north-east Scotland to source more products and services from within the region and in turn support fellow local firms.  The aim is to retain more money in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and give the local economy a shot in the arm.

buy-north-eastBuy North-East is being run in conjunction with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, Scottish Enterprise and Aberdeen Journals and encourages local private, public and third sector organisations to procure more items from local suppliers.  The Press & Journal and Evening Express newspapers are highlighting the importance and benefits of sourcing products and services locally with regular editorial articles.AberdeenHundreds of businesses of all sizes and operating in all sectors have signed up to the initiative, including ourselves here at Innes Associates.  As an Aberdeen-based advertising, marketing and PR company we know the importance of using local suppliers.

Explaining why Innes Associates is backing the campaign, managing director Charlie Innes said: “We have always aimed to use local suppliers as much as possible.  Working with suppliers who are on our doorstep allows us to build strong relationships with them.  Nothing beats discussing a project face-to-face and having that personal relationship can help when last minute projects crop up.

Charlie Innes, managing director, Innes Associates

Charlie Innes

“Our network includes freelance designers, photographers, video production companies, gift suppliers and printers, and although each varies in size, they all contribute to ensuring we have a diverse economy here in the north-east.

“This campaign gives us the opportunity as a business to explore how we can support more north-east suppliers to fulfil our own needs and those of our clients.  Businesses should also be encouraging their staff to examine where they spend their money and inspire them to shop locally where and when they can.  If we all make some small changes it will have a positive knock-on effect right down the supply chain.”

For more information on Buy North-East visit www.buynortheast.co.uk.

History repeating itself

Are companies too quick to change their branding or ditch an ad campaign?  We take a look at how history can repeat itself in marketing and beyond.

The old adage of holding onto something for long enough and it’ll come back into fashion seems truer today than ever. Perhaps it’s this age of austerity that we’re living in or that these items have an emotional pull that makes us look back fondly on a certain point in time. Maybe it’s just that we like to get our money’s worth out of a product! Whatever the reason, many things that were sales successes decades ago are among today’s must haves.

If you were a child of the 1970s and 1980s you probably got busy with the fizzy and were used to the iconic sound that a Soda Stream made. The machine and the bottles have undergone a few redesigns over the last 30 years, but Soda Stream’s sales are once again rising – up 25% in 2013. If you’re still using the version with the glass bottles you’ll probably be seen as the height of retro fashion.

When it comes to toys and games, some things have an enduring appeal. Board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo have remained popular for over 60 years, and building just wouldn’t be the same without Lego. One game that became popular with youngsters again recently was Subbuteo. Originally manufactured in the late 1940s the game was a mainstay of kids’ toy boxes until the mid 1990s when production stopped. With lots of accessories you could recreate your favourite teams and even stadia! Production started again in 2012 and youngsters once again discovered the joy of Subbuteo – also the injury your finger sustained from flicking the little figures…! With the FIFA World Cup just round the corner, players young and old will no doubt be laying the green Subbuteo cloth over the kitchen table and getting competitive with the plastic men wobbling about after the ball.

Even computer technology launched in the 1980s is being reinvented. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was a popular home gaming computer and over its 10-year production run around five million of the British-built devices were sold. Now mobile games firm Elite Systems is aiming to reinvent the iconic computer as a Bluetooth keyboard that can play an array of classic games on phones and tablets. ‘Head over Heels’ or ‘Arkanoid’ anyone?

As was shown last year it is not just products that can be successes 20 years later, but music too. In 1994, when starring in Byker Grove as PJ and Duncan, Ant and Dec reached number one with ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble’ and in 2013 after performing it on their Saturday Night Takeaway show it hit the top of charts once again as a result of downloads.

Over the last couple of years two things have become fashion must haves – quilted jackets and leather satchels. Walk down the street in any city recently and you were bound to see someone in a quilted jacket. They were the height of fashion in the 1970s and early 1980s, were revived and remodelled in the 1990s as puffa jackets, before Barbour added their twist in 2012 and every clothing manufacturer jumped on the bandwagon. The humble leather school satchel that carried every primary school pupil’s jotters until the late 1980s has also become a must-have accessory. The bag has been jazzed up from its brown origins and can now be bought in all sorts of vivid colours.

An old schoolbag is now the height of fashion

An old schoolbag is now the height of fashion

Even the royals are famous fashion recyclers. The Queen has been known to dust off the same outfit time and again; recently she was snapped wearing a coat that she bought in the 1960s. Her Majesty’s make do and mend attitude has also rubbed off on her children. Princess Anne has been known to sport outfits 20 years after she first wore them and Prince Charles has been seen wearing 40-year-old shoes and darned jackets.

Marketeers and advertisers aren’t averse to delving into their promotional archive and blowing the dust of successful campaigns from bygone years.   We’ve seen many of them do it and to great effect. Milky Way revived its ‘Red car and the Blue car’ advert 20 years after it was aired, while Persil, Fairy and Tennent’s all looked to their advertising past for inspiration for TV campaigns 25 years on.

When it comes to brand identity, however, some firms don’t bother undertaking rebranding exercises. Instead they just update their brand to prevent it from becoming dated. Shell’s Pecten has stood the test of time over the last 114 years, with only its shape and the typography used altering slightly. The most drastic changes were the introduction of red and yellow in 1948 and then the removal of the word Shell in 1999.  This is how it has evolved.

Motor manufacturers are another example of brands that rarely change their logo. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota have all made few changes to their identities. However, Fiat has changed its logo several times throughout its history and the most recent incarnation from 2006 takes inspiration from the badge of the 1930s that adorned vehicles for more than 30 years.

Regardless of whether it is something in our home, an item of clothing or even an ad campaign, hang on to it for long enough and it will be back into vogue before we know it. Maybe we should also take the view of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and save ourselves a lot of hassle and money. Let’s hope we’ve seen the back of some things though. Do we really need shellsuits again…?

April Fools’ Day

April the first has rolled round once again and with it comes the job of trying to differentiate fact from fiction as we attempt not to fall for the pranksters’ tricks.

The exact history of April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, is unknown, but there are many theories. It has been suggested that precursors to April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria which was held on 25 March and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held on 28 December. Pranks are still played in Spanish-speaking countries on this date.

In Scotland, April Fools’ Day was called Hunt the Gowk Day – gowk being Scots for a foolish person.

No doubt in offices around the world many pranks have been played this morning already. The April Fools’ jokes haven’t been restricted to places of work. Over the years we’ve had to tread carefully while reading the newspaper or watching TV. Here are just a few:

  • In 1957, BBC got in on the act and broadcast a Swiss farmer harvesting freshly-grown spaghetti. The corporation was later inundated with requests from viewers looking to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing it to declare it all a hoax in its news bulletins the following day.
  • Blackpool Zoo announced that it was launching a recruitment drive to find giraffe keepers in 2010. The prospective keepers had to be over 6ft 2in tall to even be considered for the role. The Zoo teamed up with GMTV for the stunt and the broadcaster encouraged viewers to visit its website for more information on the job, or sign a petition on heightism.
  • GMTV was involved in another April Fool in 2008. This time it was Yorkshire Water that provided the idea, which actually formed the first stage of its quality water campaign. The firm was to ‘launch’ diet tap water that could be plumbed into consumers’ homes. It provided a freephone number for people to find out more and in the 12 hours following the TV broadcast more than 10,000 had called.

  • Last year, The Guardian unveiled a new way to read the paper. Lois P Farlo reported on a groundbreaking pair of web-connected augmented reality glasses that would beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s field of vision. It all sounds farfetched, but aren’t Google already planning something similar? Read the full Guardian article here.
  • Advertisers get in on the act too. In 2013, BMW cashed in on the royal baby craze that was sweeping the nation by announcing the arrival of its P.R.A.M or Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile. If you were interested in purchasing one you were asked to e-mail Joe King.

BMW P.R.A.M

Today’s crop

What has made the news today? Well, The Sun has reported that Her Majesty is going to drill for oil at Buckingham Palace, while Vegemite is to launch a new energy drink called Vegemite iDRINK 2.1.

If you had a boiled egg for breakfast this morning while watching ITV’s Daybreak don’t rush out to purchase new egg cups. The story of a farmer managing to rear hens that lay square eggs may have been cracking, but in reality it’s half-baked.

The newspapers weren’t afraid to wade into the debate on the Scottish independence referendum today either. The Guardian had an exclusive story that in the event of Scotland gaining independence from the rest of the UK it would switch to driving on the right. It even posted a video on its website to explain the changes and how they would work at the border. While The Daily Telegraph’s Flora Poli revealed the Scottish Government’s plan for the Scottish pound or Salmond Sterling. In place of The Queen each coin would be adorned by Alex Salmond. Perhaps we need more humorous stories like this before 18 September.

Read with care out there today. If you spot articles from Lois P Farlo, Flora Poli or even Paolo Frils, don’t believe everything you read. And remember, if you’re planning an April Fools’ joke make sure you do it by midday or the joke is on you.

Innes Associates helps to mark some milestones

Innes Associates at 10It seems that 2013 is quite a good year to be celebrating an anniversary in Aberdeen.  This  year Innes Associates celebrates a decade a business and we’re not alone in reaching a significant milestone.

Also celebrating ten years in business are subsea intervention firm Bibby Offshore and Belmont Street eatery Books and Beans.  Others who are blowing out candles on the top of their tenth birthday cakes are the Press & Journal’s monthly Energy supplement and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s Northern Star Business Awards.

This year marks 40 years since the first Offshore Europe exhibition and conference was staged in the city.  Originally held at the University of Aberdeen and called Offshore Scotland, the event has grown into the largest oil and gas production event in the eastern hemisphere.  This year’s event is expected to attract over 1,500 exhibitors and welcome around 50,000 visitors over its four days.

Another Aberdeen business celebrating a major landmark is Roustabout Energy International, one of the leading oil and gas publications in north-east Scotland.  Its first magazine came off the printing press in September 1972 and nearly 41 years later its 500th edition has just been printed.  Thanks to modern technology you don’t have to have a printed copy to be able toread it as its digital version can be read on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Charlie Innes

Charlie Innes, managing director, Innes Associates

It was this combination of advancing technology and significant milestones that led to Innes Associates managing director Charlie Innes putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to look at how technology and the way we communicate has evolved over the past 40 years.  From telex machines to touchscreens and tablets, and how jobs in the oil industry have changed, are all covered.  To read the full article and have a look at the new look Roustabout Energy International has received to mark the 500th issue visit their website.  You might also spot a dashing young Charlie Innes!

Small businesses warned not to skimp on marketing

Improved marketing could add value for SMEs.

Improved marketing could add value for SMEs.

Recent research carried out by technology services company Pitney Bowes and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reveals that the SME sector is losing out on up to £11 billion in sales by allowing marketing to slip off the radar. While 77% of companies recognise that marketing is important to the success of their business, a third rate their efforts over the last six months at under five out of ten, with 11 per cent admitting to doing none of the marketing they had planned.  When asked what’s holding them back, SME owners cite time (21 per cent) and money (36 per cent).

At Innes Associates we understand the challenges faced by SMEs and work closely with our clients to develop marketing plans and communication activities that deliver. Keen to chat things through? Simply get in touch to arrange a no obligation consultation.

The full article about the benefits of improved marketing for small and medium-sized companies is available to view here.