Exclusive Mary Carmichael Importer Leathams is planning to educate consumers, generate aspiration and build customer loyalty with a new marketing strategy for its 60 product Merchant Gourmet brand. It has doubled its advertising spend and is targeting special interest magazines such as Gardeners' World and Country Living, as well as cookery focused publications. The press ads, which are fronted by fronted by Carlton TV chef Alex Mackay, focus on the brand rather than individual products, and aim to add an emotional element. "This is an aspirational brand and we want to make the wider consumer base aspire," said chairman Mark Leatham. Other activity includes instore cookery demonstrations which begin in Waitrose, Salisbury on May 15, tastings and free recipe cards. From June, the brand's web site will carry 40 recipe ideas. The strategy comes into action as the brand's Sunblush range expands, with tomatoes (favoured by Jamie Oliver in a recent Sainsbury ad) going into Safeway and Tesco serveover counters. Sunblush peppers join Sainsbury's listings in June. Waitrose is poised to add Merchant Gourmet PastaWheat and Salsa Verde to its repertoire, while the brand's new range of three Australian simmer sauces and and three dipping sauces have just hit shelves in Tesco and Sainsbury. Leatham has recently visited China, France and Spain for inspiration "We aim to become truly global in our food finding expertise," he said. New products will follow. {{MARKETING - P&P }}