rude health honey spelt puffs

When I tell an agency “we don’t advertise” it’s a dead cert that the next question is going to be “so what do you do?” As if advertising is the only way to let people know what you do. Until now my reply has been a rather lame “we use digital channels and have a lot of fun with PR” and I often throw in an apologetic “we’re too small”. And each time I say it I know there’s more to it.

I have also wondered whether we’re mad or missing the point, so it was music to my ears to hear Mark Palmer, group marketing director of Pret A Manger, speaking at the Bread & Butter food conference. He reminded me that Pret doesn’t advertise. Instead it puts the effort and money and focus that could have gone on advertising into the stores, the staff training and the quality of the food.

Thank you Mark for managing to summarise neatly exactly what we do at Rude Health, but haven’t quite managed to articulate. It also neatly answers the question about needing to advertise as we get bigger. Ask me again when we’re bigger than Pret - in my next life.

On reflection, the Pret parallel really works. At Rude Health, we judge our food on whether it’s better than the alternatives, and that means the ingredients, the design of the pack and the taste. Right now, we’re overhauling all the pack copy, to make clearer why we do what we do and why each food exists. Not all our consumers will read it, but our packs always have been and still are our best advertisement.

The more I think about it, the more I don’t understand why more businesses don’t follow the same model. What we are doing is putting the money, and the creativity and the effort into what the consumers are buying. So the consumer has an altogether better experience. This is what they come back for. Surely. Do we really buy our turkey based on which Christmas advert we like best? It helps my sanity hugely to think that this isn’t the case.

There’s one area we haven’t yet tackled that I would love to, and that’s pack innovation. We take what we can get in terms of formats, because they are so frustratingly inflexible. My dream is to be able to create the kind of packs that we would really love to buy and use. Don’t watch this space, though.