Taking Irish brands on the road
Having created a strong story via radio advertising in recent years, Love Irish Food is taking its message outside for 2023, with a series of major outdoor campaigns in Dublin and Cork featuring some of its iconic member brands. Love Irish Food’s Kieran Rumley and Andrea Murray talk to Checkout about the campaign and other key initiatives
Outdoor advertising is a big focus for Love Irish Food this year as they unveil a new outdoor concept that brings individual member brands into the campaign. “There will be three executions, both on-street with Adshel six-sheets and on bus T-sides, over the next few months across 150 sites in Dublin and Cork,” says Kieran. “This will be followed by another strong wave of outdoor executions over the summer months and especially in the autumn period, from mid-September through to November, when we will be introducing and showcasing up to 12 Love Irish Food member brands as part of a big outdoor campaign.”
In tandem with Adshel six-sheets running from mid-September to the end of November, Love Irish Food will be linking up with its retail partner, Tesco Ireland to run an in-store campaign for the month of September. As most consumers who are out and about will have noticed, the Glenisk, Flahavans and Club Orange brands are currently featured on Adshels and bus t-sides. “Each brand has a two-week rotation,” says Kieran.
“Tesco Ireland also hosted a fixed display unit in-store with about 15 brands in March and we will re-run that campaign in September as it is a huge support for our brands at the point of purchase. While the Tesco campaign was happening, we wanted to support our brands with outdoor advertising, so they are complementary initiatives. Tesco Ireland has supported Love Irish Food for two years now and they are our only retail partner at the moment. However, this partnership is open to any retailer that supports Love Irish Food brands and we are currently in conversation with a number of retailers about forming similar partnerships.”
The outdoor campaign is also an appropriate segue into the Bord Bia Bloom 2023 festival, which takes place on the June bank holiday weekend. “This year we have 28 member companies exhibiting at Bloom, which is the biggest number we have ever had,” he says. “Also, Bord Bia Bloom 2023 will be a reimagined Bloom with a new layout in the food village and a massive food marquee, and Love Irish Food will have a big footprint within that.”
The Love Irish Food organisation features approximately 100 Irish food and drink brands, and the network is just short of 80 member companies, with a significant number of new members recently joining the organisation.
“New members are joining Love Irish Food every month and companies are welcome to join at any time of the year,” says Andrea Murray, marketing manager, Love Irish Food, and former partnership and fundraising manager at the Coeliac Society.
“These new brands include Butlers Chocolates, Lir Chocolates, McCormack Family Farms, Niks Tea, Ór–Real Irish Butter, Tenters Gastropub, Velo Coffee, Zingibeer, and Oliver Carty & Family, who were announced earlier this month as the winner of the Love Irish Food Brand Development Award 2023.”
Based in Athlone, Co Roscommon, Oliver Carty & Family is celebrating 70 years in business. The 100% Irish-owned and family-run business has been producing quality pork and bacon for own label brands over the past seven decades, working with leading retailers in Ireland and in the United Arab Emirates. Just over a year ago, they took the bold step of launching a brand bearing the family name. “Oliver Carty is a very worthy winner with a very interesting brand story,” she says.
“The company’s sales have been coming predominantly from private label, but they are building their own brand now, with strong distribution in Dunnes Stores and SuperValu. The brand is being passed on from Ted Carty to the next generation, and they have created a very disruptive design that makes their products a really interesting proposition in-store. They source from one pig farm and use Atlantic Sea Salt harvested in west Cork for the curing process, so they employ a very traditional and high quality curing process.”
Winning the Brand Development Award means that Oliver Carty & Family receives €150,000 worth of marketing and advertising support. “Over the years, the BDA has generated €1.2 million in support for brand members and that is a conservative estimate,” says Andrea. “And this year’s Brand Development Awards were the most highly-entered awards to date.”
The next generation
Labour shortages remain a huge challenge for Ireland’s food and drink producers, so the focus for all small and medium-sized enterprises is on retaining good quality staff. “We are seeing an entire generation of younger employees being challenged by issues such as rising rents and the lack of affordable housing, issues which are outside of the control of food and drink producers,” says Kieran.
Love Irish Food recently joined forces with UCD and Munster Technological University (MTU) to secure future food leaders for the industry. “We are encouraging our members to take interns from those colleges and some of our members, including Folláin and Tayto, are visiting MTU at end of the month to support their open day, so this initiative is a really important part of what the Love Irish Food organisation is all about,” says Andrea.
“We are also working on cross partnerships within our membership base, and those partnerships are proving to be very important for long-time members and new members. For example, these partnerships could involve linking a coffee brand with a chocolate brand, or a meal deal offering in a forecourt featuring a beverage and snack product at a given price. This is one area of many areas where member companies are working together in a manner that is mutually beneficial.”
A valuable resource
Another membership perk that is proving to be extremely valuable to member companies is the advisory input of the Love Irish Food team and of its experienced board. “The advisory input is so important for smaller companies who don’t have specific marketing functions,” says Kieran. “They can reach out to other members or to the Love Irish Food board itself for information and guidance. The experience on the board is there to support members. It is a very valuable resource and one that resonates strongly with new members because of the collective industry experience that it represents.”
Those experienced FMCG professionals include Donal Williamson, previously of Coca-Cola and Britvic and a former general manager of Birds Eye, who is chairman of the Love Irish Food board, Emma Walls, commercial director of Glenisk, Ireland’s top-selling yogurt brand, Pat O’Farrell, commercial manager at Folláin, producers of fruit preserves, relish and chutneys for well over 30 years, McCambridge managing director Michael McCambridge, who previously worked at Diageo from 1990 to 1994, and Aidan O’Byrne, owner of OBK accountants, who provide specialised financial advice for the FMCG industry.
Aidan is a former finance director of Batchelors and former CFO of Valeo Foods. James Flahavan, managing director of Flahavan’s, is also on the board, as is Flahavan’s former marketing director John Noonan, who has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, having worked abroad and at home in various marketing roles, including Guinness GB, London International Group, C&D Petfoods and Cahill May Roberts Group.
Kieran says that, in some respects, Love Irish Food is one big mentoring programme combined with the promotional support of member brands. “Our association with Blas na hÉireann where we take on an award winner each year and support them is a very good example of this,” he says. “Another example is our extremely successful partnership with Tesco Ireland. Their CEO Natasha Adams recently shared on the Love Irish Food retailer webinar that Tesco themselves have facilitated new introductions to the Tesco portfolio through the Love Irish Food partnership.
“In fact, we had someone approach us recently who was struggling to get contacts and we helped them to form an introduction to Tesco, so that can be very helpful for companies looking to get a profile and expand their distribution. But what is most encouraging is that awareness of Love Irish Food among shoppers is at an all-time high of 85%. This means that we don’t have to explain what the logo is about. People recognise and understand what the mark is and that ties in well with the outdoor campaign that we are running.”