Monday, December 5

Muir Glen Organic

Last week a friend sent me a little care package of Muir Glen organic tomato products, knowing that Sunday night is spaghetti and meatball night at my house.  What a nice treat!  So last night we put them to the test and made our spaghetti sauce ("gravy") using the organic products.

Ironically, The Today Show on Friday also had the culmination of their "best meatballs" contest, where they crowned a winner.  One of the finalists was a salmon meatball ... have not tried that!

What's all this talk about meatballs?  For me, it's a family ritual and a comfort food.  Makes me so happy ... even got quoted on the topic in this article from  We do it every Sunday night and it's always fun to try a new product or approach.

The spaghetti sauce was awesome!  Turns out that the folks at Muir Glen make an amazing product and when you look at their marketing they have also created an incredibly consistent brand experience.  The little care package I received was actually a selection from this year's harvest .. a fresh way to sample the riches of the season.  It came complete with information about the tomatoes as well as some recipes from chefs around the country.  There was even a recipe for meatballs that I am going to try next weekend.

Even though I am a self-diagnosed "foodie", I had no idea that canned tomatoes could be so "fresh" and that the way they are harvested could make such a difference.  Just never thought about it before.  Muir Glen goes from vine to can in less than 8 hours ... and you can tell.

Here my friend Margaret Wagner talks about the brand she turned me onto, her own nteractions with it, and ways to make the brand experience even richer.

Margaret, what's your experience?  Jim.

What’s my experience of the 2011 Harvest Sunset™ Reserve?
This year, as a Facebook friend of Muir Glen, I received a post as they harvested the 2011 limited-edition crop of tomatoes.  It was exciting to have a sneak peak at the harvest process through a photo album on Facebook even before I could order this year’s Kit.  Getting this behind-the-scenes look at the field workers picking the crop, at how the tomatoes were washed and even at the fire-roasting ovens only increased my anticipation for the Kit.

A video from the 2011 harvest would have been nice too.  The 2010 Reserve Kit videos are what I see on Facebook now (and the one video I found on YouTube is from 2010 too – why doesn’t Muir Glen have their own YouTube channel?).

Note for Brands:  Provide an “inside experience.”  I loved the photos, but another step could have been having the chefs in the field comparing last year’s crop with this year’s – how are the seeds different, what’s different about this field from last year, etc.  As a consumer, I want the continuation of the story of the reserve crop from year to year (just as critiques might do in the wine industry) – and that will only help more fully bond me to the brand.

This year’s Kit was shaped like a round farmer’s basket.  The coupon was loose on top, with the cover note, and I noticed it more.  There was strong integration between the Facebook photo album and the recipe booklet – the photos of the harvest process were included in the booklet and reinforced their underlying field-to-table message.  The graphic pairing of the yellow and red tomatoes was reiterated from the label on the shipping box, to Facebook and even to the Harvest Sunset™ Reserve can labels.  And, the raised lettering of Muir Glen and the green ribbon on the Reserve labels provided a tactile element before I even opened the can.

One thing I missed in this year’s booklet was a more in-depth bio of the chefs and their restaurants.  Perhaps this is because the same chefs were used as in 2010, but foodies want those details.  If booklet length (and so cost) was a factor, then direct me to a place on the Web site or Facebook where can get this information.  There is a “Chef Partner” tab on the Facebook page, but I didn’t see it when I first ordered the 2011 Kit from the Web site.

Note to Brands: Don’t assume consumers remember what you said a year ago – reuse and reiterate content, even if it’s in a different graphic format.  Also, if you have material for video, promote it through YouTube and your Web site, as well as Facebook.

Another possible missed opportunity is how Muir Glen uses their Web site, Facebook and Twitter.  I would be interested in attending a chef event, but seemingly, the majority of chef postings are on Twitter – maybe include a calendar of activities on Facebook and the Web site too.

I also think Muir Glen could expand this Club -- how about MeetUps on a local level featuring an area chef using Muir Glen products for an evening demo?  Or, maybe set up tastings tour during the summer with a kitchen-in-a-bus and visit key farmer's markets or outdoor music festivals?  How could Muir Glen take the lifestyle concept that Ralph Lauren embodies and adapt it to their industry?  Or, even be outrageous and adapt the power of TV and video the way Victoria's Secret and their runway angels have to debut the new harvest?

I’ve already sent the kit to my brother and sister-in-law, and you, Jim, as the Brand Experience guru.  Let’s see who else I introduce to Muir Glen with this year’s Reserve… well, while the supply lasts!

- Margaret Wagner


  1. So happy you enjoyed one of my favorite brands, Muir Glen! So when do I get to taste your delicious meatballs?

  2. I should organize a meatball cook-off ... and we all compete and sample! Jim.

  3. I wont to know more about that salmon meatball.
    how to make it.

  4. I believe there's a recipe on the Muir Glen website! JIM.