THE recent Bord Bia event 'Pathways to Growth' was attended by most of the chief executives of the major food and agri-business companies in the country.
Among the speakers they heard from was John Quelch of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).
Prof Quelch is renowned as a top academic in the marketing field and was formerly Senior Associate Dean and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
The key for a successful brand, Mr Quelch said, is that it must "own" a product category and be in a position of absolute strength in its home market. In most cases the company name is the brand name, he added.
"There are 10 food companies in the top 100 brands globally, so food can be branded successfully, and that feeds into 'brand Ireland'.
"Can geographical places be branded? Yes, but there are few prominent place brands. There is the idea of a psychological place within the geographical place.
"Starbucks have been very successful in the past in 'owning' a place. Howard Schultz has successfully positioned Starbucks as a 'third place' between home and work.
"So what determines national brand image? Well, there are a number of factors. The history of the place, famous people past and present, its perceived traits and values, importantly its airlines and embassies. These all feed into how a country is perceived."
Clearly Ireland is now in need of a rebranding after the avarice of the Celtic Tiger years, and Quelch has some ideas of how we might go about doing that.
As a country, Ireland must develop a clear position for itself, be known for something, and attract satisfied customers. All of that is easier to do in a small country.
"The general rule when creating a brand or slogan is that you need a basic formula: 'for [target audience], Ireland gives the best [blank] because [give your reason why]'.
"One of the benchmarks for Ireland, and in particular food from Ireland, would be to look at New Zealand and how they have positioned their country, and they've done it quite successfully."
New Zealand have used their '100pc Pure' campaign to position their food as clean, green, organic, and healthy. The idea being that New Zealand food is an antidote to the genetically modified foods that have been doused with chemicals elsewhere.
"So how does Ireland compete with that? Well there are a few things worth considering.
"The first thing is not to focus on Ireland the country but everything that makes up the country. The land, not Ireland. The Irish, not Ireland. Think of a food that is handcrafted by Irish farmers, not food from Ireland. You also need ambassadors. It's not enough to say 'eat Irish food'. You need people who look like their target audience to be out there promoting Irish food.
"Nothing beats a credible endorsement."
Bewley's seals in the freshness
BEWLEY'S claims to have made coffee easier than ever to enjoy at home by launching new resealable fresh coffee packs to the Irish market for the first time.
The newly designed range of fresh-ground coffees includes a reclosable Ziploc strip, an airtight freshness valve, foil packaging, coffee strength guides and an easy-to-understand, three-step guide to fresh coffee making at home.
Bewley's new resealable Ziploc coffees are being launched in five varieties including an Indian coffee that has been sourced and launched in either Ireland or the UK for the first time.
To help the growing number of people who want to try fresh coffee at home for the first time, Bewley's is also launching two trial-sized packs containing 100g of Gold Roast and Rich Roast coffee.
Mark Saunders of Bewley's said: "In the current economic climate, people want to treat and reward themselves with quality coffee at home in an affordable way. Fresh coffee fits this bill perfectly as it's a more natural and less processed product than instant with a much better taste."
Bewley's new Ziploc range is available now in supermarkets nationwide, Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe or online at www.bewleys.com
Skype offering large format ads
SKYPE is offering large format advertising on its home page in the Irish market for the first time, according to Robert Quirke of Ad2one, the digital sales agency that has just secured the exclusive contract to represent Skype in Ireland.
Skype's reach and engaged user base makes it an attractive platform for Irish brands to market their products, he said.
The first global advertisers to sign up include Nokia, Universal Pictures and Visa. Mr Quirke said: "With 85,000 users a day in Ireland, Irish advertisers can take over the home page of Skype for one week at a time and encourage users to make direct phone calls to the advertiser through a 'click and call' facility without being intrusive for the user."