What I did: I was responsible for everything Kingsmill that wasn’t straightforward bread. They had me at crumpets. I joined the business just after a good run of a brave advertising campaign where the King of the Mill was (in fiction), a young Elvis Presley. That campaign was a risk for all the right reasons. The conclusion on that risk was that it hadn’t paid off and my arrival coincided with plans for the relaunch of the century. Over the course of that project and my time on the brand we re-designed it. We gave a narrative to a brand positioning and created ads that spoke of it. I found myself immersed in a kind of toasting science that started with my crumpets but then spread to a whole world of toast related brilliance. We established the ultimate thickness of a slice of toast; that which would retain a crispy veneer but with softness in the middle. That was 1.9mm. We embraced the love of bread in a way I’m not sure our gluten and carb conscious world would embrace so freely. We did a promotion linked to the World Cup called Roll on summer. It was on rolls (do you see what we did there?). We did a promotion called Let’s Do Brunch on morning goods. So many baked goods, so little time!

 

 

BIG TAKE OUTS THAT LEAD TO CURRENT ME:

 

  • A Brand with an identity crisis is a brand with an identity opportunity. Kingsmill rubbed breadbaskets against those of Warburtons and Hovis. One lead the market with a domination that went far beyond the North of England from whence it came, not to mention the fact that it sounds like Daddy Warbucks from Annie – the power analogy is not lost. The other practically invented wheat germ and owned that boy on the bike from the olden days? Kingsmill was then about 10 years old with only a ironic and rejected back story linked to Elvis and a short term dalliance with Mel and Sue long before the bake off years. I think we had a bit of a new kid chip on our shoulders back then. Looking back I see a brand that could’ve been anything it wanted to be – oh the beauty of youth so lost on the young.
  • Some things really do just need marketing support. One of my big projects was to launch a range of fruit loaves. They were beyond delicious. Our CEO had come from Australia where this was a huge breakfast and snack choice and he was supportive. We had apple pieces, cinnamon, juicy raisins, even chocolate chips. We had reams of supportive research. What we didn’t have however was a P&L that would justify support nor a wider P&L that could afford to send this offspring out into the world. We launched it but it was on no shopper’s radar, we’d whetted no appetites. I loved this range of products but we had no choice but to put it in a bread bag without oxygen. Sometimes you really should just walk away.
  • What it’s like when the F in FMCG is really….F! FMCG of course stands for fast moving consumer goods. In bakery it might be the fastest it gets. The nation wants it’s daily bread and if you don’t get it to them it turns green and furry in protest. In this world your logistics department are the cleverest in the house. Step aside finance. You’ve got breadbaskets, trucks, hubs – it’s clever. That toast you had for breakfast, well that was probably rising in an oven in Stoke on Trent last night. Me, well I did a stonking design for the side of the trucks in appreciation. Twas an insufficient gift.

 

My one little moment of pride:

 

Every time I declared that the scientific, optimal width of bread for toast was 1.9mm because I found it to be true and I enjoyed hearing myself say it.