Connecting core renovation with popular culture

Guest blogger: Anne Charbonneau, Managing Partner France & Benelux

Renovating the core of your brand and keeping it fit is a permanent challenge. Sometime, keeping your ears and eyes open to what’s going around you can trigger interesting ideas. But not just looking at your competition, looking wider at popular culture.

Recently, one of my clients, McCain Europe, created a great coup by launching a range extension of its core french fries business, called it ‘La Frite du Nord’ or ‘L’Frite de Ch’nord’, the Northern Fry. This was inspired by the blockbuster French movie ‘Les Chtis’ that had 17 million cinema entries last year. The film glorifies with humour the culture of northern France, a region more famous for its bad weather, shutdown coalmines and stubborn character. Les Chtis is the name given to people from the region, who have their own local dialect. The hero of the film heads North to work in a bank with a heavy heart, but discovers that the simple life his new friends live is full of emotional warmth and good times. And he soon enjoys the daily lunch trip to the ‘frites' stand.

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 Les frites Ch’tis have some lovely product truths. In a way, what Mc Cain did in France was a bit of  a ‘Phileas Fogg’, using provenance in a playful but relevant way:
– 100% made in the north of France
– Made by authentic Ch’tis
– A very authentic  homemade-like cut.

But what about the business results? Sales are promising, especially in the North of France so far. And even if this product launch is just an ‘episode’ in the long term part roadmap of their core renovation, there are a lot of benefit from such an approach:

1. Trade praise as McCain is bringing novelty and local relevance in this mature category

2. Consumer goodwill, as McCain demonstrate its ability to take part in popular culture, and thereby help counter its image of ‘American’ brand (when they are if fact Canadian!)

3. Internal learning for McCain, about feasibility and potential of more ‘authentic’ shapes and tastes and products with regional spins which can in term inspire new ideas and strategies for core renovation

Let's hope the frites are as big a hit as the movie!