High Street Dreams – BBC1; 9pm; Monday, 10th May

by Katie on May 11, 2010

I sat down to enjoy this programme. Branding, marketing, the high street. Yes! I was so looking forward to another fly on the wall, from rags to riches offering from the BBC who are really getting rather good at these high street, life through a lens programmes. Only this time, it wasn’t. Within ten minutes, I’d lost the will to live and to focus and even started contemplating strong and resilient coalitions. A good programme should have you riveted. But with ‘High Street Dreams’ I found time to write down my reactions to it, play with twitter and update my blog. GYAC, I can’t do that during ‘Desperate Housewives’ or ‘Flash Forward’.

Even scent goddess Jo Malone and the lovely leonine Nick Leslau couldn’t keep me enthralled. They either cajoled or barked at the favoured businesses in the case of the former while Leslau had a more encouraging softly, softly catchee ‘middle class monkeys making kitchen table burgers’ routine. It was all distinctly meh.

My first quibble is that it strove to tell the audience the obvious. Consumers like nice branding, packaging that works, strong colours and have a short attention span so the product has to bite and relay the key brand messages in seconds. Leading swiftly on to no brainer number 2. It was no biggy to see that both parties (the lovely Mr Singh and his family and the ex City types, Worcestershire young farmers, Roland and Miranda) would have to step up to the mark quickly and change their attitude towards production and distribution. Despite this, it took a full 36 minutes of programme time to constantly reiterate what could have been covered in 5 minutes. During this time, I tended to concentrate wholly on Jo Malone’s thin upper lip. Is that evil or was it just boredom?

Number 3 quibble comes courtesy of likability. We cared about Mr Singh and his eager family to make their product work and change their lives…less so about Roland and Miranda who even took a break to get married so they looked even more like they’d escaped a Hackett commercial, to make them more sellable as a commodity. ‘Gosh, I’d never have believed we’d be the focus of a photo shoot for our burgers’. Really, Miranda? Your self marketing and story is all you had. It’s rather difficult to make a burger stand out while every high street supermarket has them on offer. Aah, but these are special goat’s cheese and sun dried tomato flavoured burgers and we’re pitching to Waitrose. That’ll make all the difference then. And, possibly, that’s why you need a stereotypical, young ‘go getting’ farmer couple emblazoned on the product packaging of ‘Muddy Boots’ burgers. Flaunting their youth to temp consumers. Perfick.

Despite constant cajoling, Roland and Miranda were finding it hard to yank their burgers away from kitchen table production. “If we take the production away from our us, what have we got,” moaned Miranda. Clue: the marketing, photo-shoot, Waitrose targeted audience etc etc. Ye olde poshe supermarket tends to know their onions and their beef burgers.

Mr Singh and his family were willing to place it all on the line for their chilli sauce, even following Mr Singh’s slight stroke and hospitalisation. The branding company placed with this family were more on the case than the burger munchers. They homed in on the red turban, used bright colours and hit upon the idea that the hot sauce Mr Singh was selling could be used for a whole variety of purposes. Still, they only got to pitch to Asda. Which was a shame as it was a product much more in keeping and targeted to a supermarket such as Sainsburys.

Pre pitch and encouraging their respective teams, Mr Leslau came over as a genuinely nice guy. A big cuddly mentor. Jo came across as a business woman. She’d slap you on the back of the knees if you failed her in your presentation.

Of course, following each of the pitches to their respective supermarkets, they were accepted as sellable products, starting small but hoping to grow. No surprises then from a programme that was largely monotonous and seemed to go round and round in circles.

Whats more, next week, we get to see two more teams pitch business ideas. We don’t get any follow up on Mr Singh and Roland & Miranda. Now that would have been a good idea. A business and product pitch from beginning to end to estimate it’s success? Disappointed and badly thought out, BBC1. Any fool marketeer knows you have to keep the customer coming back to build loyalty and brand.

Picture above: Jo Malone courtesy of twofourbroadcast.com
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I agree. i found it a dull patronizing programme. The following week was even worse. It reminded me of ‘changing rooms’ at the end of its reign. Tired telly before it has even started.


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