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Beckleberry's

Britain’s answer to Ben & Jerry’s! A proud father & son operation born back in 1996 when Peter (son) decided that uni life wasn’t for him, at the very same moment Ian, ( his father)a redundant colliery engineer was wondering how best to spend his redundancy monies. Both shared a deep-rooted appreciation of ice cream and the NE’s proud manufacturing traditions and were desperate to establish a gastronomic food business that showcased these strengths.

Beckleberry’s lives by a short list of bold, immovable rules: source locally wherever feasible (local dairy providers), bold flavours with an adult leaning (keeping needless masking sugars to a minimum), no artificial nasties, championing human endeavour over excessive mechanisation, supporting unusual flavour unions (Passion fruit & tarragon) whilst offering a strong strand of local social responsibility (job opportunities for former stroke victims hoping to return to work).

Integral to the Beckleberry’s evolution was its award-winning boozy sorbets, revamping a pudding format too often tarnished by citric acid and synthetic flavourings.

Pilchard encouraged Beckleberry’s to adopt a new, ’Gourmet with a Northern Soul’ illustrative brand identity, celebrating the brand’s Northern roots and quirky personality, an ever evolving brand making genuine strides in gluten-free and sweet & savoury patisserie and a deserving recipient of a National Family Business accolade.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry’s was never a Pilchard client and yet the learnings Ian took from helping lay the UK marketing foundations for this incredible brand have subsequently shaped everything that Pilchard advocates: gritty determination to defy the odds, light touch, pithy tone, approachable brand personality, real people….

It wasn’t easy, but Ben & Jerry’s key success was convincing Vermont to provide the UK team with some essential slack when establishing its GB heartland. Whether we’re talking humour, foodie photography, charity collaborations (Childline, NCH..) website platforms, above-the-line advertising the odd bespoke flavour, (Cool Britannia) or simply the look of the larger-than-life Flying Friesian sampling programme, it was vital that this brand acted in a way that didn’t simply settle for imposing US interpretations of quality and fun on UK audiences.

Successes were manifold; from mopping up underdog awards, Mystic Moo (online medium), ownership of ‘chunky’ flavours, OR even sending our ‘Veals on Wheels’ taxis to park outside our rival’s (Haagan Dazs) offices.

Quite possibly our finest hour was sponsoring a series of 5 quirky (yet genuine) local community World Championships: Bog Snorkelling, Nettle Eating, Conkers, Toe Wrestling & Gurning which gave Ben & Jerry’s disproportionate PR airtime whilst underpinning their ‘likeable underdog’ persona.

Coldpress

The term ‘pioneer’ is bandied around far too easily and yet in the case of Coldpress the term is right on the button. In 2011 this category game-changer entered the under siege chilled juice fixture at a time when juice was being unfairly demonised for its natural, high sugar content.

The premium juice fixture was in turmoil, dominated by two all-powerful juice juggernauts, Tropicana (Pepsi) and Innocent (Coke), who dominated the wider fixture courtesy of their financial clout and short-sighted ‘bogofs.’

These were two brand owners whose vocal pledge to champion ‘nutritionally robust’ juices was fundamentally flawed, courtesy of their dependence on old-school heat treatments (pasteurisation), a tired, outmoded method for keeping ‘bad bacteria’ at bay that clumsily cooks off a majority of the tasting notes and nutrients that made the juice so appealing in the first place.

Coldpress was the first UK advocate of HPP, (cold pressure/Pascalisation) which deploys eco-friendly, hydro-static pressure to bring mischievous bacteria to book. Simply put, cold-pressure is the next best thing to ‘freshly squeezed,’ because quite frankly life’s too short to be chained to your peeler & blender. You wouldn’t consider boiling an orange or an apple before consuming it, which is why we believe heat should be confined to ovens, radiators, hot water bottles, the sun and the odd volcano.

Whether we’re talking single-variant fruit juices, smoothies, veggie blends almond milks, fruit-infused coconut waters, Coldpress was the godfather of the UK’s blossoming heat-free movement, enabling every Valencian orange, Pink Lady apple, almond, slither of beetroot, sprig of celery or sprinkle of gingery to be the very best it could possibly be!

Cotswold Raw

Nutriment kindly recommended us to BARF start-up Cotswold RAW, whose focus on countryside common sense, rural sustainability and local farming, meant we had a very different pet food tale to tell: local sourcing, thoughtful pet-friendly product formats & the revival of often overlooked ingredients: liver, game meats….

Although the ‘raw revolution’ had started before Cotswold RAW, too many of the original raw propositions revolved around scooping unappetizing gloop from unappetizing ice cream tubs.

Raw needed a category champion where ‘human-grade,’ foodie values and transparent packaging were a bare minimum. An inspired hero range of raw sausages catapulted Cotswold RAW on to the premium pet food stage.

Early on Pilchard secured for Cotswold RAW two ‘stand up & take notice’ food awards for food innovation, (Pet Quip & Grocer New Products) PR impetus for their successful crowdfund push, their National Pet Obesity Awareness drive and their most audacious efforts to get the noble Cotswold Sausage onto the UK’s protected food register.

Darling Spuds

This was a ‘from scratch’ project where Pilchard played a key role in the creation of thoughtful, clean-deck snack with a distinct female. Darling Spud’s overriding goal was to carve out its own snacking niche that wouldn’t step on the paws of its established, male-orientated stablemate, Salty Dog whose focus was intense blokey flavours.

With a clear-cut vegetarian narrative that mirrored Judy’s (co-founder) personal food preferences, the plan was to create a more refined yet wholesome snack offering ideally geared upmarket delis, coffee emporiums, farm shops and foodie-centric independents.

Pilchard helped create a warm, quintessentially English tone that would at one point lead to an eagle-eyed Starbucks bigwig spotting the brand at Heathrow Airport and seeing its potential to become the dashing, Hugh Grant hero of its extensive North American estate.

Great British Biscotti

In terms of a likeable, quirky personality, there are few brands I’ve enjoyed working for more than GBB. Although Britain remains the undisputed home of true biscuit appreciation, the moving goalposts of ‘healthier eating’ and ‘thoughtful grazing’ meant any matter-of-fact biscotti would have to travel some distance to change ‘tired’ consumer perceptions.

And so, GBB set about flouting every rule in the biscotti book: even questioning why the best biscotti had to come from Tuscany and why almonds must always be the pre-eminent flavour.

Whilst establishing itself as a stylish coffee accompaniment was always the overriding, this was a proud Dorset bakery that wasn’t prepared to stay silent on the thorny topic of ‘dunking’ or idly accept that ‘batons’ are always the best biscotti, flavour delivery format.

Today the multi-award winning GBB is responsible for establishing a game-changing savoury biscotti family, a notoriously nibbly ‘biscotti crouton’ and an eclectic huddle of sublime flavour marriages with the capacity to transform any soup, salad, cheeseboard, canape OR charcuterie tray.

GBB biscotti has single-handedly quashed biscotti’s reputation for being safe and samey by establishing a dynamic biscuit sub-category with incredible gifting, hospitality and export potential.

Dorset’s best-kept secret is truly on the move!

Lotus Bites

Whilst no-one denies that popcorn has been pivotal, showcasing snacking in a more flavoursome, low calorie light, the simple truth remains that this fab film accompaniment has done very little to address the nutritional vacuum in today’s snacking fixture.

Step forward the humble lotus seed, a veritable ‘superseed,’ jam-packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals: iron phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium.

Lotus Bites have boldly set out their stall as an ‘all-natural’ popcorn alternative; a light-to-bite treat with bona-fide worldly appeal, marrying authentic Indian cuisine with contemporary, Western style snacking perceptions.

Lotus seeds are not some overnight social media blogger’s fad, having been an integral piece of Chinese medicine and Indian cuisine for countless centuries. We could talk about the snack’s miserly calorie output, its topical gluten free/vegan credentials or its slow- release energy make-up. And yet, surely its real appeal is its ability to provide the perfect stage where either sweet or savoury flavours can flourish.

After all, healthier living needn’t mean short-changing your taste buds!

Made For Drink

In terms of clients with a game-changing philosophy, Made for Drink sits in the top cohort. Simply put, Made for Drink is an artisanal snacks operation inspired by lesser known drinking cultures from around the world and our island’s vibrant bar scene. Its single-minded mission is to help discerning snackers broaden their culinary horizons by creating a series of sublime nibbles that pair perfectly with their favourite tipple, be that a full-bodied Rjoca, a fruity pilsner, a zingy golden rum or an earthy IPA.

Backed by the government’s Seed Enterprise Investment scheme (SEIS) and a host of influential foodie gurus, (Rick Stein & Fat Duck Groups were early advocates) Made for Drink is resolving the long-standing disconnect between vibrant craft beer, small batch spirits and a clean-deck tonic movements and a depressingly dreary snacking fixture.

If changing the face of meaningful/escapist snacking wasn’t enough, Made for Drink have also launched the ultimate free-range, ‘roast tatty friendly’ duck fat.

Spud Tub is not only restoring some much needed pride & crunch in everyone’s favourite gravy sponge, it’s also taking sincere social responsibility to new heights, by creating something rather special from a Duck Friton bi-product.

Moose Maple Butter

One of Pilchard’s favourite, ‘against the grain’ partnerships revolves around doing our bit to revive butter’s fortunes. The simple fact is that butter’s unwarranted vilification over recent decades has led to consumers substituting in too much unsavoury sugar and unhelpful carbohydrates.

Moose Maple Butter is an intriguing story of a copyright lawyer wondering what else she could slather on her toast, instead of sugar- laden jams and synthetic spreads. Her ‘eureka’ moment arrived when she stirred some butter and maple syrup together.

Fast forward nine months and the likes Selfridges & Partridges are embracing the Moose Maple dream, top drawer Welsh butter blended with Grade A, Canadian tree sap that’s packed with beneficial minerals and vitamins, (manganese, zinc, calcium & potassium) a lower glycemic index than refined sugar and antioxidant levels that wouldn’t shame a banana or generous serving of broccoli.

Our work to date has been all about showcasing the versatility of this dreamy partnership in a tub, be that reviving the fortunes of breakfast and bread, bullet coffees, meat glazing or home baking.

The butter aisle has long needed a big dollop of wow and here it is!

Nature's Path

A visionary, Vancouver-based business that established itself as North America’s largest independent provider of gluten-free cereals and a vocal opponent of genetically-modified crops.

In North America, Nature’s Path has demonstrated that a profitable organic business model is perfectly plausible thanks to its unstinting commitment to revive the fortunes of long-forgotten ancient grains: quinoa, spelt, chia……

In the UK Pilchard helped Nature’s Path become a leading light within a resurgent free-from movement that was committed to overturning the gluten-free aisle’s long-standing reputation as a ‘tumbleweed’ zone where products that tasted of ‘soggy cardboard’ resided.

An ‘early doors’ alliance with Coeliac UK helped Nature’s Path quickly find its feet in a marketplace historically dominated by home-grown heavyweights: Dove’s Farm, Genius,Rude Health… reversing the fortunes of free-from cereals whilst countering a perceived disconnect between North Americans and healthier living.

Nutriment

A true game-changer in their field, a sincere ‘underdog’ in every sense of the word, who wanted to go further than previous ‘raw’ providers for whom a BARF was either a low maintenance side line or a no-nonsense money-making exercise.

Raw is only a small sub-strand of a much wider pet food fixture dominated by global players and sub-standard kibbles/canned foods (packed with filler grains, artificial extras & back-of-barn meats). Nutriment wanted to turn conventional pet food thinking on its head, tacking a category where pet owner convenience, not a pets’ longer-term health needs were paramount.

Other obstacles to circumnavigate included a ‘closed shop’ pet food fraternity, the spectre of rising dog obesity and the wrath of a bitter local rival.

The business’s success hinged on the newsworthy, never-say-die attitude of Nutriment’s founder Suzanne Brock, a single mum backed by a small, close knit team facing an unhelpful banking fraternity, suspicious, set-in-their ways vets and the unavoidable logistics of a frozen offer.

Whatever limited funds were spent, were spent wisely, be that packaging designers with a strong track record in artisanal human food, a light non-worthy tone of voice and a four-pronged, tailored offer: working dogs, large to medium-sized dogs, small urban hounds requiring a lower daily protein intake and n upmarket organic offer.

Having befriended the pet press, Pilchard targeted influential female founder/small business titles, securing a couple of aspirational awards: (Smarta – Best Lean Business & Everywoman Businesswoman of the year 2015 PLUS some big editorial features (Sunday Times...)

Nutriment was now on the march creating involving press ads, top drawer company lit and a long-term alliance with organic pioneers, Laverstoke; paving the way for new state-of-the-art production facilities and some game-changing listings (Ocado).

Pep & Lekker

An ‘early doors’ alliance with one of the cooler founders I’ve wandered across. Susan is an ex-corporate lawyer who decided at the ripe old age of 50 that it was time for her to ditch the City life for something all-together closer to home, namely vegan-friendly snacking.

Susan had been less than underwhelmed with the UK’s incumbent vegan snacking fixture, whose ingredient decks were awash ‘with ‘foggy’ claims and dubious nutritional integrity.

Susan and her sister-in-law Juliette set about creating a 3-strong collection of seedy nibbles that use apple, (not unwelcome sugars or uninvited oils) to deftly bind an eclectic collection of tasty seeds and super ingredients (maca, brahmi or wheatgrass) into moreish, seductively slender slithers with a delightfully decadent snap.

If that wasn’t pleasing enough, Pep & Lekker are also about to relaunch their vegan friendly/GF ‘Soup & More’ collection, not as a typical nut-centric/low calorie meal offer, but as a velvety smooth celebration of well-rounded, wholesome allotment veg and high-fibre cannelloni beans.

Rod & Ben's

As the first food brand to give Pilchard a leg up with the kind offer of regular work, Rod & Ben’s holds a special place in the Pilchard ‘fine memories’ vault. The full-bodied broths and soups had originally played second fiddle to the SW operation’s local vegetable box offer.

Pilchard helped shaped the look, voice and tone of an organic offer (approved by Rick Stein) that was desperate to provide a credible alternative to the likes of Yorkshire Provender & Tideford who’d lowered their flavour credentials and ingredient standards in pursuit of mainstream supermarket success.

Rod & Ben’s reaffirmed soup’s status as the original healthy fast food focusing on ‘in season’ ingredients with broadbrush appeal: veggie, lactose-free, hot, cold, chunky (& meaty); whilst enabling brand die-hards to have a significant say in the direction the business took (Brotherhood of Broth).

This was a brand that actively championed a resurgent independent food retail scene, who’d later look at dips, stew-in-pots and perfectly-proportioned puds (Lemon Posset…) to extend its brand reach into online, foodservice and the independent hotel/hospitality sector, whilst stubbornly sticking to a proud mantra of honest, tasty & affordable organics.

Shaken Udder

Another inspirational start-up we assisted in the ‘early years’ was Shaken Udder, a much needed antidote to the many synthetic, gloopy, kid-centric formats that dominated both chilled and ambient drinks fixtures.

The marketplace was crying out for a likeable lifestyle brand with more involving adult-themed flavour profiles and real ingredient integrity; a brand that showed much maligned milk and the wider British dairy industry in an altogether more innovative light.

To be clear, Shaken Udder was an engaging brand that didn’t turn up overnight. This was a festival circuit stalwart with an enviable loyalist following forged on the muddy, tent-filled fields of Britain; a brand all too ready to step into the mainstream retail circuit whilst staying true to its likeable smaller company credentials.

This was a brand that shouted ‘real founders’ and ‘real ingredients,’ carving out a space for superior tasting milkshake in a chiller cabinet where healthier ‘lactose-friendly’ alternatives like coconut waters, almond milks, HPP and live culture propositions were making their move.

The Handmade Cake Co

One of two Pilchard clients to sit neatly on our Berkshire doorstep. Here resided a successful, local foodservice brand that despite establishing itself as the UK’s No.2 independent cake producer was pretty invisible outside tightknit foodservice circles.

At a time when traditional cake formats and sugary ‘me-time’ treats were under the spotlight, we helped The Handmade Cake Co initiate a root & branch marketing makeover. Despite high levels of ‘product trust,’ this was a brand deemed a tad safe and soulless in a sector awash with happy, time-out’ moments and nostalgic ‘cakey’memories.

We reinvigorated the brand identity (logo) literature and PR profile whilst embracing our ‘baked in Berkshire identity, constant product innovation (gluten-free, on-the-go, traybakes…) that stayed true to clean-deck/kitchen cupboard ingredients.

We are at the early stages of our journey and to have found somebody like Ian who has been so generous with his time, expertise, effort and honest opinions has been invaluable. Thank you!
Daniel Featherstone: Made for Drink

Purple Pilchard has been a fantastic partner for Great British Biscotti Co helping us shape the persona and image for our new brand. We've had superb feedback from clients & consumers complimenting us on how brilliant and refreshing the work Ian did for us is.' We briefed Ian to take us away from the "grey suit" brigade and to give us a style/image that was fun and original. I cannot recommend Pilchard enough It's fun, edgy and most importantly Ian listens to what we want and delivers in spades!
Paul Rostand: Great British Biscotti Co

As a new voice in the premium pet sector we needed to make sure our first foray into the pet press was interesting & engaging. Ian took on board everything Cotswold RAW stands for and put together a compelling positioning and tone of voice. Ian has also helped us with our awards crowd funding and brand evolution strategies.
Chris Brierley: Cotswold RAW

Ian is really exceptional, full of enthusiasm & with boundless energy. He’s incredibly responsive & supportive and I feel so fortunate to have Pilchard on board at this stage of our journey. I am confident that with Ian as part of our team we can really make ourselves heard, which as a start-up on a tight budget is no mean feat! Thanks Ian
Susan Gafsen: Pep & Lekker

Ian has been instrumental in guiding our direction and retail strategy as we look to refresh our identity whilst staying true to our core family values. His work with our new branding has been very well received by potential and existing customers alike. Ian's a person you can believe in, which is not something I've been able to say about marketers before!
Peter Craig: Beckleberry’s

We were crazy busy when Ian took on our project and it was great to have someone who put his whole heart into it from day.1. It's also great dealing with a straight talker
Jodie Howie: Shaken Udder

I've worked with many great marketers in my career and Ian stands in the 1st rank
Bram Kleppner: ex- Ben & Jerry's International

Each time I receive an e-mail with new written text by Ian I feel excited as I know how good it will be and what it will do for our brands.
Matt: Oloves

We love the fact that Ian has his own opinions and is forthright with them. He's full of ideas and bucket loads of enthusiasm and has been a pleasure to work with
Judy Willis: Darling Spuds/ Salty Dog