Dear I can’t believe it’s not Cheddar

Dear I can’t believe it’s not Cheddar,

Thank you for making me stop dead in my tracks in wonder and amazement – well actually shock and horror – when I saw you the other day.

I think I understand your logic – the only problem is that it’s fundamentally flawed.

So here’s my reading of your logic:

  • The lighter cheese / cheddar market is in growth – and there’s room for more, so why not have a go at it
  • You – or more accurately your parent, MilkLink – needed a way to bypass the rules that prevent lower-fat cheddars being called cheddar
  • Unilever were only too happy sign a license deal with you, thereby rinsing a bit more cash out of their I can’t believe it’s not Butter brand
  • You saw the (historical) success of I can’t believe it’s not Butter brand and thought, um, we’ll have a slice of that.

But what amazes me is that you seem to have missed a couple of blindingly obvious facts that should have sent the alarm bells into overdrive as soon as, what can surely have originated as an off-hand comment, took on an unstoppable life of its own.

Firstly, if you say you’re not a cheddar, then it begs the question, “Well, what exactly are you?”

The construct worked for Unilever, but that’s because there was an existing and fully established reference point – called Margarine. Consumers were able to rationalise the I can’t believe it’s not Butter brand because they knew that it must therefore be a margarine, but one with a really great buttery taste.

Secondly, sure you say on pack that you’re a “Real Mature Cheese”, but people are interested in and want to know what exactly they’re eating these days, especially if there’s a suggestion that it might have been messed with or unnatural…I mean, who’s ever chosen the “meat curry” from their local curry house with any degree of confidence? People didn’t care so much about things like provenance and naturalness back in the early ’90s when the I can’t believe it’s not Butter brand was launched – but they do now.

So even though I don’t know what you are, I do know for sure that you’re in no danger of making it anywhere near my fridge (or that many other people’s I reckon)…

But thanks for reminding me of one the most memorable tourism board straplines of recent times, which still makes me smile:

If you’re not cheddar, what the bloody hell are you?

Thanks

Ned

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