In a nutshell ..

What’s worth knowing in Food Marketing this week.

Today’s Food Marketing Weekly pulls the curtain back from Coke’s dubious nutrition gambit, finds out how “cute” made  Dempster’s tortilla campaign so successful, how Costco dropped the food safety ball, three new food apps, cologne that smells like BK’s Whopper, a 3D printer that makes pancakes, and kudos for Cheerios’s #HowToDad campaign for going to Cannes.


Mini-cans and mini-truths made it easy to pull back the curtain

Coke really stepped in it this week.

The company decided to market its mini-cans with a campaign using nutrition writers and dietary experts — who were possibly, some say obviously, paid — to deliver the ultimate message that a mini-Coke is a nutritionally sound snack.

The selling of the idea was spread by so-called health bloggers. One of them recommended that a mini-coke plus “packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts” can constitute a meal. Anyone can see that’s a dangerous stretch.

I can see this being the case for undergrads cramming for exams, or twenty-somethings rushing to go out, with nothing else in the fridge, and likely to eat the almonds AND the desserts, AND probably more than a single pre-portioned dessert. Or maybe a Red Bull.

Despite taking fire for its supposed role in obesity in North America, Coke should be allowed to market itself the best way it knows how, and mini-cans have value as reduced-portioned products. But they’ve made the mistake of underestimating the market’s intelligence. No one believes this feeble nutritional advice. It makes no sense.

It makes me wonder why Coke can’t develop a properly healthy power bar to eat with that mini-Coke for a real snack. How hard would it be for this company to do something truly tangible to mitigate its anti-nutrition footprint?

On whether the “experts” were paid or wrote their pro-mini-Coke nutritional promises on their own steam, the company has to recognize that this is the age of transparency. We can see what you’re trying to do, and it’s pretty shabby.

One dietitian who wrote about this new snack idea said she can’t recall if she was paid for her article mentioning mini-cans, which is galling. How can you not know if you’ve been paid for your work?

For a behemoth like Coke, this misstep might be little more than a blip. For food marketing generally, there’s a stiff price to pay for discounting the consumer’s intelligence. Brand credibility is a tenuous thing. Mess with it, and you’ve messed with the bottom line.

Written with reports from CBC.ca and Marketing

Image via Associated Press

Quick & Noteworthy

The return of Dempster’s “hug your food” tortillas

The super-cute spots are back for another year. Why?

“The campaign was a huge hit .. earned “over two million views, drove sales and had a ‘historically low’ cost-per-view,” said Brian Murray, group creative director at Cundari, to StrategyOnLine.

What’s striking about this spot is that it looks more like it was destined to win over kids more so than busy mothers looking for fast, healthy kid-friendly dinners. Which makes it a win-win.

YouTube captures the spot.

Slapdash food safety cost Costco its fish license

The giant retailer got caught skipping steps in its food safety management system, the third side-stepping of protocol in three years. Globe and Mail

Food safety is a core integrity issue, and a brand sustainability issue. Falling down on food safety produces the kind of damage that’s tough to repair. It’s going to lead customers to wonder, what other food safety shortcuts are going unnoticed? Cutting corners in food safety can be fatal, and not just for your company.

App Patrol: three new ones this week

  • Yellow Pages launches new mobile food and dining app Yahoo
  • “Google of Local Food” app from Barrie ON HQ Canadian Grocer
  • New 7 Eleven app facilitates the company’s first ever royalty plan Marketing

Why do we want Burger King Whopper-scented cologne?


Food Diggity

Pancake Bot, a 3D food printer, not the first. Obama by batter.


Fast Co-Exist

Special mention: Dads Can Cannes

A cool, idolized view of what and who Dads are and can be — in the name of peanut butter Cheerios, only sometimes with tongue in cheek — is going to Cannes, up for a Lion award. #HowToDad StrategyOnLine

See you next week.




Can you say, in a nutshell, what happened in food marketing this week? Now you can.

Welcome to the first issue of Food Marketing Weekly, a new digest format that captures the week’s stand-out food marketing stories and delivers them to you.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.19.39 AM

Ex Starbucks & Lululemon Exec “disrupts” with new frozen food line

Canadian light shone on Christine Day this week. Luvo is her innovative new line of food-forward frozen entrees, with a healthy calorie count and a nutrition-positive profile. (Marketing)

Her line is far better established in the US, carried in 6000 supermarkets and served on Delta Air.

Fast Company tapped her as one of their top 50 innovative companies of the year. She went on Celebrity Apprentice to task a team to promote her line.

“When I look at the state of nutrition and the state of the food industry, I think it’s ripe for disruption,” she told Marketing.

Here’s how she’s going to do it, all for between $4 and $8 each:

  • chicken chili verde
  • burritos filled with chicken poblano verde
  • organic roasted eggplant and quinoa
  • pizzas topped with ricotta and apricot glaze [not so sure about this one]
  • entrees like red wine braised beef with polenta

Read more…

pi pie

For foodie-math nerds everywhere, today, 3.14, which is the value of Pi, which is actually an infinite number, which is like the infinite number of pies we can and should make, all of us. Like this baby. What a happy day!



Evocative, visceral, exquisite

I’m in awe of the image, the well-wrought kind. I go heavy on pictures for this blog, because images hit so suddenly, faster than words, differently, and often better, which might be counter-intuitive for a writer, but then I am that kind of writer.

When I stumble across an enchanting image, I see an opportunity to share something unexpected from a writer: beauty that evokes sheer pleasure in the viewing, just like the sheer pleasure of biting into something exquisitely delicious.

Read more…


How to judge a professional association party.

Can you judge a professional food association by what it’s going to serve you when you check them out at their launch?

I’d say yes. Here’s why ..

Read more…


kit tools 2


If only great ideas could stick like these do.

We’ve had magnetic knife rails for some time, but not for the key utensils that we pull out of a drawer after we’re done all our slicing and dicing. Once we’ve done our basic prep and we’re ready to head to the stove, we reach for the spoon, fork and spatula.

Here they are, and like none other.

This gorgeous beech set comes from Slovenia, which has a storied tradition of woodworking that the makers of this set would like to revive. They’re produced and designed by Leis, a Slovenian company that follows a sustainable, fair-trade business model that they like to keep local. Harvesting, design and manufacturing were conducted in a 30 km radius.

See more here.








Turbo stimulus package for a buck

Jet Fuel is the name of this too-cool-to-crack-a-smile Cabbagetown cafe, whose branding nails their offering really well. They have good quality fuel by way of java, and they have all the hip you’d ever want in a coffee shop.

This is not their logo, by the way, but just a great find tumblred by Bella Illusione. Thanks Bella. This is their logo.

Jet Fuel delivers to the under-caffeinated in two significant ways. They give you a double shot of espresso for $1. Beat that any of you cafés out there. And their signature bevvy for the lollygaggers — folks who don’t need to bolt out the door fired up with a liquid charge — is an eponymous combo of cappuccino and latte in one cup. Why? Because no one else does.

If you’ve chosen to meet a friend or a crush here, good luck finding a place to sit. And be ready to whisper-talk directly into one another’s ear [which is why the crush option is a good one], because it’s as loud as a jet engine in there.

No. It’s not, not really, but it’s loud. It’s a small room with high ceilings, filled with talking caffeinated souls. It’s no wonder.

PS: don’t be a wuss and ask for decaf. Not on the menu.




Now I lay me down to some imaginary savoury sleep

Charlie would love this bed.

Charlie is the imaginary 8-year-old nephew I had to conjure up in my mind to imagine who would sleep in this bed. Those fries are pillows, in case it wasn’t immediately obvious, and it isn’t until you try to follow the whimsical logic that created this bed, the so-called Supersize Bed.

I think Charlie would love this bed because it’s like having a racing car bed, only tastier, in your imagination. But wait. They’ll fit this bed to any size mattress? For adults? That’s when it all falls apart. Who is really going to sleep in this bed? Because even though Charlie would love this bed, his imaginary mother, my imaginary sister, would never agree to this thing.

“Charlie will be wanting McDonald’s morning, noon and night,” she says, in my imagination. And I’d be inclined to agree. I want some McDonald’s just looking at the thing, which I suppose would please the makers very much, to be able to evoke that much desire in a person. Or appetite.

Still, I’m finding it hard to imagine, as an adult, getting sexy on this bed. Food and sex go very well together, but where foam and corporate fast-food is involved, I don’t think, speaking for my non-imaginary self right now, not so much.

Read more…






Some lucky Londoner gets up every morning to make coffee in this minimal, clean design kitchen. Backed by white-painted bricks in front of a farmhouse sink and its striking faux-oldtimey hardware, those lucky Londoners are cooking eggs and who knows what else on a stunning AGA stove, prepping their food on marble counters, fishing into repurposed wooden-fronted drawers and standing on an understated floor of wooden slats in a herringbone design.

And I am standing there with them. Let no beautiful kitchen escape my dreamy place in it.


Food vendor pushes her cart through flooded street of Sena district in Ayutthaya province

A flooded market on wheels and a vendor undeterred

Pushing a cart through a flooded street in south-central Thailand, a woman stays open for business despite the disaster affecting more than 2 million people in her region. Selling fruits and vegetables won’t wait because eating won’t wait, because survival can’t wait. Photo by Chaiwat Subprasom for Reuters.

pan 4

To beloved creatives everywhere, especially those who make magic for food companies — my peeps.  The rest of them are lined up here …

Read more…

APTOPIX India Economy

In Chennai, India. Photo by Arun Sankar K./Associated Press)



Not to put too fine a point on it.


july dusk

When warm gold light spills out from inside the cafe, when we savour the warm air on our bare arms and legs, when we know the day’s nearly done because it’s turning indigo, that’s when we’re in heaven.


pra facade

How to get a client to go for your most adventurous design

When Melbourne’s Prahan Hotel was ready for expansion, they went back to Techné, a local architectural firm they’d worked with before and with whom they had a lot of trust equity.

The hotel’s creative brief called for a design that was more conventional than not, but something no other Australian pub had.

“We actually expected [them] to go with the most adventurous idea,” says project architect Justin Northrup.

Cue the mega-tonne standard drainage pipes … Read more…

bread jn 13

Like a kitchen-warmed full moon, sour dough, so moist you can taste it, heavy, dense and cool. Smoked salmon w/creme fraiche, capers and red onions. Rare-roast beef, grain mustard, horseradish mayo. cracked black pepper. Egg salad. #HowIdLoveThee


India Daily Life

An Indian farmer gathers, carries and drops a harvest of pineapples at a farm near Agartala, two kilimetres from Bangladesh.

Photo: Abhik Deb/Associated Press



Production Of Roquefort Societe 150years Cheese

French dairy goats from Millau, wearing the latest in husbandry accessories.

Photo by Balint Porneczi for Bloomberg