Global brand management, marketing synchronisation and a lost childhood

Yes, this little article may imply I have too much time on my hands. But it’s important dammit.

When Opal Fruits morphed into “Starburst” in April 1998, bringing UK production in line with the US, owners Mars Ltd commissioned a series of adverts which tried to explain the marketing decision. Accurately enough, the ad featured a troupe of monkeys reacting to various words. They clapped on on the mention of “Starburst” as a lab-assistant walked past with a banana. This, then, made television history as the first ever truthful depiction of the marketing research process.

Its ironic humour failed to pacify me, at least. This was before the days of serious (i.e. multi-million pound) brand management. In the past ten years much has changed; the whole brand (lifestyle and such other feeble associations) now has to be considered. Audience power is more likely to strike quickly, like Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons (“within minutes I was on the internet registering my disgust”), and Mars would soon fall foul of failing to listen to their customers.

Along with all the hype and fanfare of re-branding was a basic marketing error: not treating customers like they’re the most important people in the world. Don’t force your globo-friendly product names on us. Don’t patronise and short-change your audience with cheap Spanish ads (Febreze, Clearasil). And please, please don’t dub them, badly. It makes us feel unwanted.

Mars was a move to globally unify their marketing strategies.  In marketing speak, by harmonising their brand,  production would become more streamlined and more focussed. In the most basic of terms, they changed the name to save money.

Further examples include Kelloggs’ short-lived re-branding of Coco Pops to the uninspired “Choco Krispies”, which was quickly and publicly dropped after nearly a million people voted to change it back. Jif became Cif, as our Iberian cousins found it difficult to pronounce the hard “J”; Oil of Ulay became Oil of Olay, the list goes on. Nostalgia for the old days hit a peak recently when Cadburys scored an audience-friendly coup by re-introducing the Wispa.

Mars has since learnt its lessons. Just check out their seriously feature-heavy Starburst website. There’s audio, swish graphics, games, and a lame attempt at user-generated content in the form of 15 minutes of fame for narcissists and the well-fed lonely.

As you’ll see, in the bottom right hand corner of the page, Mars weigh in with their attempt at an Orwellian Ministry of Peace re-branding, with “Mars Nutrition: Supporting your healthy lifestyle.” It’s about as convincing as George Bush as a cryptic crossword compiler.

And now, back to the Starburst issue. My orginal intention in this articles was to highlight the further euro-fication of our sweets in this country. I’ll explain. Chewy sweets of the fruit variety on the continent tend to be a uniform pale cream. They don’t mess around pretending that their produce has ever even looked at a piece of fruit. And now Starburst have phased out the green colour in their Lime. The pictures below show the whole sorry story. WARNING: Children of the 80s may find the following unpleasant and deeply scarring.

Aha! A lime flavoured chewy sweet! (Not sponsored by AMD, BTW)

Green on the outside…

But unwrap it, and what’s that?


And here she is.

The milky white harlot in a state of undress…


  • There’s also a well written and interesting histories of Birmingham-based Cadbury’s and Haribo here.

Global Warning

M20’s poshest takeaway is Globe on Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury. Its USP is that purports to offer a fine dining experience in the normal takeaway format; serving up not only Italian but Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese and Chinese dishes. They call it “fusion food”.There are over 80 exotic choices, from the Sui Mai – Chinese pork dumplings with bamboo – to Thai Geang Keow Curry, to the Yasi Yakitori (seasoned aubergines, shiitake mushrooms and peppers).Ambition is certainly not a problem. But with such a sprawling menu, can they get the food out in time, in the right order? Can we have a restaurant quality meal in our own homes?

The short answer? No.

Here’s a tip for you. If you ever need free beer, call up Globe, order something elaborate, and for every 5 minutes that they’re late with your delivery, call back, and in your finest parental voice, pretend not to be angry, but just disappointed at the failings of this supposedly upmarket and bespoke service.

Works every time.

Joking and theiving aside, what’s the quality of the food actually like? Is this Pimp My Takeaway, a flashier, louder and more expensive version of reality?

I can say that the pizzas, like this ‘Globe Around The World’ to the right, are fantastic. Packed with sweet and crunchy red onions, peppers, olives and capers, and layer upon layer of pepperoni, and chicken, this is the closest Globe really gets to a fine dining experience.

The upmarket starters, however are often disappointing. Check out this Har Kau – steamed dumplings, minced prawn, finely chopped bamboo shoots and soy sauce. Apparently it’s ok to charge £3.90 for this:

The dumplings were more rubbery than a Goodyear’s finest tyres. The portion size was ridiculously small. This is just not acceptable for “fusion food”.

So, in conclusion, if you desperately need a proscuitto and rocket pizza, Globe is the place to go. If you can survive with ham and pineapple, there are a million other takeaways within a 2 mile radius.

Brain-dead? Try this!

Are you whiling away your hours in a job you hate?

Can’t wait for the weekend?

Can’t be motivated to change careers, or make a move elsewhere?

Cheer yourself up with these tips on surviving office life.

Tip 1: Font Of All Knowledge

Instead of worrying about your future, why not make the days go faster? Explore the fonts on Microsoft Word! Now when you’re bored off your arse, writing a 100-page marketing report for your boss, you can pretend instead you’re scribbling away at your first children’s novel, with the delighful font ABCPhonicsOne.

For every capital letter you type, this font gives you a little drawn character! Y is a youth with a yo-yo slouching against his capital. G is a gorilla with a banana. E has an elephant spraying water all over the shop and D is a dinosaur whose long shapely body goes through the space in the middle of the D.

It’s ace!