Brand Jamie

Jamies II

I visited Jamie’s Italian in Greenwich today.  For various reasons it wasn’t a great experience. The experience got me thinking though, why wasn’t I happy?  I decided it was because my expectations weren’t met.

I set my expectations on the basis that Jamie Oliver, in one way or another, has been part of my life for years now in the form of my first real cook book and of course, the TV shows.  The brand promise I thought had been made with me was broken and I was not happy.

My expectations as I (and family) crossed the threshold were:

  1. Grade A Service
  2. Marketing Leading Value
  3. Authentic Food

The reality:

  1. 30 mins passed before we could order (it was gone 14:00 so post the lunch rush, in deed, we had 5 empty tables around us at one point!).  That is not great service.
  2. Subjective I know but I didn’t think it was great value, I felt the portion was too small.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that whilst ordering the waiter told me ‘Jamie believes in small portions’, ok good but the prices aren’t any smaller….
  3. The food, admittedly, was good, although maybe it didn’t look it…

Jamies Pasta

There was one more point and this one really hurt.  Oliver had recently made a documentary exploring the affect of sugar on our youth.  The conclusion: cut down on sugar, especially in fizzy drinks.  Yet, on the menu are drinks, almost all with sugar and a note stating that Jamie’s Italian charge £0.10 extra to put people off buying  drinks with sugar content.

So, not only is this a tad hypocritical (the sugar warrior selling sugar) but also making more from me at the same time!  £0.10 doesn’t sound like a lot but lets say there where 50 tables and lets say each table had 1 sugar drink every hour over the 8 hours per day.  Thats £14,500 per year.  In one restaurant.  Rather material I’d say.

Why not stop selling ‘sugar drinks’ and have real conviction behind the cause?

This got me thinking about brand promotion, protection and damage.  Oliver has interest in many entities.  I guess some of which he has minority control.  However, its his name associated with each entity, he IS the brand (in the same way we associate Branson with Virgin).  Whenever he starts an endeavour or backs a cause no matter how noble (like the Sugar campaign – which I think is fantastic) all of the associated companies and interests will come under scrutiny.

That must present difficulty in brand management as is true with my experience today at one of his restaurants.  I feel cheated by Oliver despite the fact he may have had little to do with the day-to-day management.

I can’t be the only one thinking this.  Others will have noticed the hypocrisy.  Is that a concern for the management of the chain?  maybe not.

Oliver must protect his brand and reputation at all costs.  If the brand equity is ever lost the empire will fall.  Quickly.

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