• I had a lovely meeting with a new agency about potentially working together on some projects; fingers crossed things work out. They do some great work.

  • I facilitated the brand workshop for the confectionery brand I’m working with. It went really well, but I made a huge mistake in buying lots of competitor products and doing a taste test as part of the workshop. I think I ate about 127 sweets and felt a little bit queasy afterwards.

    Nausea aside, we got to a pretty good place. There are still some commercial things to work out that will affect the brand positioning, but there’s a pretty clear thread that runs from a consumer insight through to a core strength of the product. Now we just need to bring that to life creatively.

  • It strikes me that confectionery is one of the most difficult categories I think I’ve ever worked in. Big players producing insane quantities (Haribo make 160 million gummy bears every single day!). Lots of mature brands with lots of awareness, deep pockets, and big advertising budgets. Regulatory headwinds in the form of restrictions on advertising and promoting HFSS products. Extremely prominent private label. Decades of fairly intense innovation that saw the low-hanging fruit picked long ago.

  • It’s also, because of all the above factors, a slightly confusing category to shop in as a consumer. It strikes me as unsustainably odd that these two products are both sold on the same shelf:

    Two bags of wine gums

    The one on the left is 130g, the one on the right 160g; the one on the left costs £1.05/100g and the one on the right 91p/100g. It’s because the left one is a different formulation to comply with HFSS regulations, but how on earth is a consumer supposed to know that? (Also, a Tesco review of the one on the left says it “tastes like how I’d imagine burnt plastic would taste”, so make of that what you will.)

  • There was a momentous moment for Honest Umami this week: we had a great first meeting with a buyer who could make a pretty transformative difference for the brand. It’s very early days, and there are clear barriers that we need to overcome, but there are reasons to be optimistic too.

  • And finally, the New York Times knows what’s up:

    A screenshot of a word game; the clue is “tasty” and the answer “umami”.