TELLING IT LIKE A PLOUGHMAN

So in the early 1950’s the British Government started to ease rationing restrictions that were introduced during the Second World War. One of the first products to be freely available again was cheese. The only problem was that Brits had become so used to not eating cheese that they needed to be prompted to start buying it again.

Step forward J Walter Thompson, an advertising agency that was in partnership with The Cheese Bureau, a body established by cheese producers and the Government to promote the sale of cheese.

Now The Cheese Bureau didn’t invent the notion of eating cheese with bread, for nearly 1000 years this has been the staple of the English worker, but to combine it with some relish and put it on a plate to be served in restaurants as an actual meal was a revelation. Married with evocative pictures of plough horses and English countryside the ploughmans took off. During the 60’s & 70’s it was one of the most popular dishes in English restuarants and it kickstarted a revolution in British cheese manufacture.

Today in Britain 98% of households regularly each cheese. We consume 700,000 tonnes of the stuff and produce 700 named cheeses. And it all came from a nice little advertising idea from JWT.

The Moral Of The Story

JWT and The Cheese Bureau knew that we had the capability to produce cheese but they had to create a story to get people to start buying it. Buying decisions aren’t always strictly logical. Customers know they can buy your product or service but you have to give them a reason to give you a try.

You have to package your offering to cut through to those emotive, often irrational desires. The methods are always different as each sector is different but start by thinking what your story is rather than just the product or service you are selling. Once you’ve realised what this is start telling people about it.

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