I spent the day with my friend Arlene Stein’s Oma; a woman from the Alsace Loire region of France (right at the border of Germany). She prepared an amazing stuffed beef dish called Rouladen.
Early on I noticed that Oma used a product called Bisto in almost everything she made. She mixed the white powder with flour and water and presto, she had gravy. Oma was clearly taken by the stuff. She remarked “look it’s white, but when you add water it’s brown.”
I thought that Bisto must be some obscure find from a European deli. But, no. It appears that Bisto is a massive phenomenon. Bisto just celebrated its 100th anniversary and dominates the British grocery market. Bisto is so big in fact that it’s entered the nomenclature.
Type Bisto into Twitter and you get results like this one. “How’s life anyway hun?<< all gravey like Bisto”
My perception of Bisto as an old lady brand was further shattered by my realization that they have an absolutely kick-ass social media campaign.
Ads like this one from the 80’s show that Bisto has always been positioned as part of the family. Now Bisto has taken it one step further by taking on the issue of family meal time. For years experts have espoused the importance of families eating together, but realities often get in the way. Bisto asks families to work hard to eat together at least one night a week.
The campaign kicked off with a moving ad campaign focusing on the value of family meal time. The campaign’s significant social media component lives on the dedicated ahh Night website. The website engages visitors by highlighting the issue and the benefits of family meal time; A Bisto sponsored study revealed how rarely British folk eat as a family (less than 1/3 do it once a week). It also highlights information from a respected psychologist about why family dinners are vital.
Then, the site engages families in making a change by asking them to take 3 simple steps:
- Download and sign a “contract” pledging to eat dinner together one night per week
- Send family or friends an email invitation to dinner
- Make a delicious meal (recipes provided) using – you guessed it – Bisto.
Once you’ve signed up, you receive regular tips to help your family stay the course.
What makes this social media campaign such a good one for Bisto?
- Right Fit: If fits with their brand; Family and food is what Bisto has always stood for
- Relevant: Family meal time is a real issue that need to be addressed
- Useful: The simple tools and information help families make the change
- Do-able: They are asking people to pledge one night a week. And the they make the process of engaging simple
- About the Issue: Sure Bisto does (at the end of the day) promote recipes made with the stuff, but really, it’s about the issue, not Bisto
So there you have it. Cooking with Oma turned out to be about much more than old world cooking. It lead me to discover a pretty cutting edge social media campaign. Truth is, campaigns this good make their own gravy.
Thanks Wanda. Tomorrow, I meet Jessie and her daughter Nicole from Jamaica.