The Happy Pear, Kerry Foods and Diageo for Baileys among winners at Bord Bia awards
Inaugural 'Industry Champion' Award presented to Denis O’Riordan 'Mr Cheestrings' of Kerry Foods
The Happy Pear brothers, Kerry Foods and Diageo for Baileys were among the winners at the Bord Bia's industry awards.
Over 350 Irish food and drink industry leaders gathered at Dublin's RDS Concert Hall for the prestigious biennial Food and Drink awards.
Hosted by Miriam O Callaghan, the nine winners from an original shortlist of 24 companies across the industry were announced at the event.
Successful firms across Ireland's booming food and drink industry were nominated across the seven categories, namely 'Branding, 'Consumer Insight', 'Digital Marketing', 'Entrepreneurial', 'Export', 'Innovation', and 'Sustainability'.
The inaugural 'Industry Champion' Award was also presented to Denis O’Riordan of Kerry Foods in recognition of his outstanding contribution to delivering global success for the Cheestrings brand.
"Denis O’Riordan, known as ‘Mr Cheestrings’ among his colleagues in Kerry Foods, is one of the pioneers of best practice marketing in Ireland," said Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.
"He is recognised as being the leading force behind the international success of Cheestrings, which is now available to some 350 million people across Europe. Denis has served as a mentor and a role model for how to take a food brand from concept to global presence by embedding consumer and market insight in the business."
Judges for the awards included John Fanning, Chairman of Bord Bia's Brand Forum, Ervia's Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Orlaith Blaney, and founder of 2degrees Martin Chilcott.
Bord Bia Chairman Michael Carey opened the awards followed by an address from Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.
1) Branding - Diageo for Baileys
At the end of 2015, Bailey's Original Irish Cream faced a 6-year rolling decline with revenue at a 10-year low. The marketing team at the firm then embarked on a project aimed at repositioning the brand in a new dynamic category.
Awards' judges said that Diageo "clearly outlined how to layout an impressive topline marketing strategy".
"Everything was brought to life by a hugely successful integrated campaign that was underpinned by the end line - 'Don't mind if I Baileys'".
Digital and Data Manager, Hailie Ritterman, told Independent.ie how Baileys used a product focused, digital first communications model to drive brand growth.
"The most interesting thing for me has been the reshape of our strategy. The biggest change is stopping thinking of Baileys as being in the liquor category, but rather as part of the treating category.
"We're living in a world of confectionery and coffee cups, in a city exploding with donut shops, for example. It's an entirely new category and competitive set for us and it also allows us to tap in a very substantial behavioural shift in woman, who are now saying 'absolutely I'll indulge'.
"We also reshaped our media model. We went from just being on TV and billboards and have moved to a 'millions of triggers' model - 'think pleasure, drink Baileys'."
Ms Ritterman said that Diageo for Baileys have seen a 6pc growth in sales which is "really exciting, the most positive boost in a long time" and attributes the wins to understanding and reacting to customer insight. "Things need to be attainable, everything can't look like it's in the studio; the most authentic, the more conspirative pleasure, the better."
2) Consumer Insight - Butlers Chocolate
Butlers Chocolate highlights excellence in consumer centred marketing, according to the judges, who appreciated the detailed account on the in-depth study conducted on the ritual of opening a box of chocolates.
"The study was conducted with high end consumers in London and Dubai, and the outcome was the development of a super-premium range which has seen magnificent impact."
3) Digital Marketing - The Happy Pear
Well-known Greystones brothers David and Stephen Flynn started the Happy Pear in 2004, the business now employing around 170 people across three cafes, a sprout farm, a food manufacturing and distribution business, a coffee roastery and a fermentation business.
Their success story can be largely attributed to the their powerful online presence and marketing strategy. "Their digital campaigns are consistent and authentic across a variety of channels and they have created a powerful 'movement' which is driving the brand," the judges said.
"Everything they have done is backed up by a clear consumer understanding and a well thought out brand strategy".
David and Stephen's original mission statement "to build a happier healthier world - and build community" is a message they have managed to amplify across a number of social media platforms, they tell Independent.ie.
"Our social media is very much personality-led, we are a walking, talking version of the brand. We do our best to inspire and to add value to [our followers'] lives, to get out and enjoy life. It is essentially a representation of our own lives; we swim very morning, eat really healthy foods, we live these lifestyles."
YouTube has been highly successful for the duo - they recently received the Silver Play Button for surpassing 100,000 subscribers.
But The Happy Pear believe that while the varying platforms are quite different, "they all have their place". From regular Snaps on Snapchat (including a daily Vlog), to regular sunrise swim shots on Instagram, the entrepreneurs also keep busy with Facebook Live cook-along videos and the occasional Twitter post.
"It's wonderful to be recognised in a category alongside such strong companies," they said ahead of the win announcement.
4) Entrepreneurial - Gallaghers Bakery
'Big vision, great ethos and killer consumer insight' is what the judges thought of the entrepreneurial spirit of Gallaghers Bakery, who have created a range of gluten-free bakery products based on extensive consumer research. The business has grown from employing 65 people in 2011 to 305 direct employees in 2017 - and is expected to grow an additional 40 next year.
"The success of Gallaghers bakery is no doubt driven by their entrepreneurial spirit, their ability to think big and smartly leverage retailer's consumers insights and data. It is an incredible story of drive, ambition and the teams tenacity to succeed."
5) Export (Smaller Business) - Silver Hill Farm
Producer of duck and duck products, Silver Hill Farm has been the preferred supplier of duck to Chinese markets across Europe and Asia for the past 30 years. In the last two years, the firm implemented a new, more dedicated approach to its marketing strategy.
"[Silver Hill's] entry included amazingly detailed understanding of their various markets, consumers and categories, while also showcasing great potential for the future with strong, consistent growth in the export arms of the business," said the judges.
6) Export (Bigger Business) - Kerry Foods
The "great Irish success story abroad" recognised by the awards' judges was Kerry Foods and its strategy to grow Cheestrings in an ever-expanding market base.
Cheestrings is the first brand in Kerry Foods' portfolio that has been successfully launched into several European markets, most recently Spain, Portugal and Italy.
"Future plans also showcased strong ambition and were clearly insight driven - a superb example of best in class export marketing," said the judges.
(l-r) Cathy Kidd, Global Marketing Director (purple dress) and Angelica Schiavone, Italian Brand Manager of Kerry Group)
Global Marketing Director at Kerry Foods Cathy Kidd said that the strategy had a very strong focus on consumers insight, looking at new markets, and listening to consumers to help understand the market landscape.
"Over the last number of years, the role of the export business has increased in terms of its strategic difference. We start launching products in international markets and designing them initially with the international market in mind.
"A tipping point for us came about five years ago when we launched in Germany, it was a move away from what we did before, seeing if things would work in other markets."
The three-step market analytics process that was employed has helped to build the brand value of Cheestrings to more than €100m per annum.
"With every market that we go into there's an awful lot of the picture that we don't know...our centred focus on the consumer is something we're particularly proud of, we seek to build the brand around the consumer."
7) Innovation - Pip & Pear
Founded by mother-of-two Irene Queally, Pip and Pear produces a range of chilled baby foods designed to taste just like a homemade meal.
The judges maintained that the company was "an excellent example of a new product based on a core insight that parents want to feed their baby the best".
The team have managed to create a new category within the baby food sector for chilled fresh baby food; and have demonstrated a very impressive and well thought out marketing strategy. The focus on the consumer is very apparent, delivering a solution which meets the evolving needs of parents and their little ones."
8) Sustainability - Dawn Meats
A verified member of Origin Green since 2012, Dawn Meats updated sustainability strategy was developed with stakeholder engagement during 2015/2016 - built across five pillars: sustainable sourcing, animal welfare, resource management, people and community and innovation and nutrition.
"Dawn meats illustrated excellence, innovation and impact in corporate sustainability. There was a clear link with all stakeholders including farmers and customers - their progress in operations and their commitment to the future," said the judges.
9) Sustainability, Project Impact - Monaghan Mushrooms
An additional sustainable award was given to one of the world's largest fresh mushroom companies Monaghan Mushrooms. Judges: "Monaghan Mushrooms successfully showcased that they're clearly intent in staying at the technical and environmental forefront of the mushroom business.
"The results of their sustainability efforts have led them to develop a vitamin D enriched mushroom and add another health angle to their business."