I get so many emails asking if I would like to run recipes featuring branded ingredients that I thought I could save all of us a lot of time by explaining my position on them (spoiler alert: I’m not keen).
You’re doing absolutely the right thing. You’re charged with promoting Udder Delight. It’s an entirely run-of-the-mill butter, no standout qualities, but you can hardly tell a journalist that. Then you notice a calendar event with an obvious food peg on the horizon, so you dust off a few recipes, get some pictures taken, and fire off the press release: Suddenly “Udder Delight – it’s new and it tastes like butter” becomes “Show your Mum you care this Mother’s Day with delicious cakes from Udder Delight”. Neat, eh?
But the problem is, I’m on the reader’s side, not yours or your client’s, and I’m wondering just what Udder Delight adds.
Would the recipes flop if you used a different butter? Of course not. So it makes no sense to specify a brand. What you are trying to do is pass off advertising as editorial, and I’m not having it. You want product placement, you pay.
That’s not to say I won’t occasionally compromise.
I’m more tolerant of umbrella organisations – Food and Drink Wales, for example – than of individual brands, and if you attach a celebrity name and amazing photography, I might take a closer look. But to stack the chips in your favour, you need to give me something I wouldn’t be able to get otherwise, and a nice Victoria sponge recipe, that just ain’t.
Next week: the celebrity chef names that work. Plus a few that don’t.