Pancake Day Packaging…
Happy Pancake Day! It’s really crêped up on me this year! (Sorry) Maybe that’s puncake day… I’ve seen some crackers today, but the award has got to go to The Blood Transfusion Service “There’s no BATTER day to book an appointment and donate” – and I’ve seen no end of “flipping marvellous” type headlines…
So, I thought I’d do something different, and reflect on the marvellous bit of packaging that is the Jif Lemon. Instantly recognisable, and thinking back, as a child, it’s probably the first time I was ever aware of the concept of packaging.
Although the origins of the plastic lemon are a little vague, it’s thought similar packaging was available in Italy before World War 2, – in ceramic or glass rather than plastic – and some examples were brought home as souvenirs by British servicemen. In the fifties, two separate British companies started to market very similar products. They soon came to an arrangement, with the ReaLem company gaining the rights to make the plastic lemon. Apparently, a real lemon was used in the production process to gain the distinctive realistic lemon peel texture on the pack. Even the machinery used to create the pack was innovative, being one of the first plastic-blowing machines used for packaging in the UK.
The timing for the introduction of the plastic lemon couldn’t have been better. There was a demand for ‘modern’ convenience foods, and with it’s longer shelf life (than a real lemon) and distinctive packaging, coupled with the post-war shortage of ‘exotic’ fruits like lemons – meant the plastic lemon was an instant hit. As well as the packaging, the slogan ‘Juice in a jiffy!’ was such a huge success, they renamed the product Jif. When Reckitt and Coleman bought the business in 1956, they proudly embossed Jif onto the pack, where it remains to this day. By the year 2000, despite the greater availability of fresh lemons, more than 80,000 Jif lemons were being produced every day.
So, what’s the link to pancake day? Well, unlike the USA, and other parts of the world, by far the favourite topping for pancakes in the UK is simple lemon and sugar. Reckitt capitalised on this with their memorable slogan ‘Don’t forget the pancakes on Jif Lemon Day’ effectively ‘owning’ pancake day!
The Jif lemon is a clever piece of 50’s packaging that turned a pretty simple product – pure lemon juice – into a much-loved, recognisable brand. At 65 years old it still stands out as unique on supermarket shelves today. So what lessons can your brand learn from Jif Lemon? Think differently to make your brand stand out, and you get ‘mindspace’ with your customers. Be distinctive. Come up with a great strapline, and a great, memorable name. Be creative with your marketing. Do all this correctly, and the investment you put into your brand will pay dividends, year after year. If you need a some help with this, get in touch. I think you’ll be flipping impressed.