Getting to the innovation disco as the DJ is packing up

I was pleased and exasperated by the headline in this weeks Marketing magazine announcing that Cadbury’s were going to launch The Natural Confectionary Company (TNCC) in the UK. Pleased becasue its a great little brand that went from nowhere to become a $30million brand in Australia, bigger than Starbust.  It has a home-made feel, great taste, soft texture and no artificial anything. Exasperated, becasue I was part of a team that recommended to launch it in the UK back in 2003, when the idea of food with "no nasties" was really new and different. I worked with the Global Marketing head honcho from Cadbury’s to "bottle the
magic" of this great Australian brand that his company had just bought
(the guy in question was Diego Kerner, who now runs the brandgym in
Latin America). We spent a week in Sydney talking to the founder, doing consumer groups and working with a global team of Cadbury folk to agree a positioning and roll-out plan. Diego produced a brilliant "cook-book" which was a fun little booklet that captured all the know-how and the recipe of the success in the home-market.

I just hope its not too late, with TNCC turning up at the innovation disco just as everyone is leaving and the DJ is packing up. After all, the market is now swamped with food and drinks plugging their natural credentials.

But why did it take 4 years to roll this brand out when it was so hot?

Well, what the Marketing article failed to say is that the product itslef was launched in the UK a couple of years ago. However, the UK didn’t follow the recipe in Diego’s cookbook. They messed with the recipe and launched it as Basset’s Naturals. This was despite the TNCC Cookbok explaining the need for a new brand with a "home-made" feel, and without the baggage of an exsiting brand like Basset’s, that is not known for being natural. I don’t know the data, but I’m guessing this launch was not a big hit, as TNCC is now being launched. It was a stretch too far, and one where a new brand was a better bet.

Perhaps its the success of TNCC in Ireland that has persuaded the UK to change their approach. In 2 years the brand has become the second biggest bagged sweet brand.

Here’s hoping that TNCC will at least get to have one dance at the all-natural party before they turn the lights up.