I love when an idea turns into a brand and then that brand grows and evolves. It's marketing magic. And that's exactly the case with entertainment property Top Chef from Bravo (another brand unto itself). We have a cultural fascination with chefs, and I'm a restaurant foodie right up there with the rest of 'em.
I was a Top Chef fan from season one, and although I now view it more from afar, I have enjoyed watching it grow from city to city and from theme to theme, along with some of the products they introduced along the way.
The latest to catch my eye is a partnership with he brand Healthy Choice. It's no ordinary partnership. It starts with an online webisode competition from prior season "favorites" to create new entries under the Healthy Choice brand promise. And then those foods are offered for sale as part of the Top Chef Healthy Choice line at retail called Cafe Steamers. Pretty cool if you ask me.
Partnerships are always interesting in marketing because you have to ask yourself, "what's in it for each brand."
For Top Chef it's more than just more online entertainment ... it's a brand extension into actual live products that are sold at retail, making the brand that much more real. Turning reality tv into reality food, under a well known brand name to give it some package goods merit.
For Healthy Choice it's audience expansion, as it looks to pick up new users who are part of the Top Chef franchise but may not have ever tried Healthy Choice before. It also gives the brand some flavor creds, I would imagine, as it works to compete in the healthy frozen food category which may not always have been known for its taste. Having winning chefs make your food sure sounds delicious.
A win-win for each brand, and a major evolution of the Top Chef franchise. The best part? Each brand's consumers also win (making it a win-win-win) as they now get new ways to experience their favorite brand, potentially increasing consumer loyalty. Something I call "The Experience Effect." Score!
Gotta give it a try. What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, "The Experience Effect" series