Long gone is the thought that food is a mere fact of life. Food has become an experience, a sensation, even a form of entertainment that has changed our industry to meet the increasing demands from consumers to be better, more flavorful, more attractive, and exciting.
Few might have the insights to this like that of Susie Fogelson, former SVP of Marketing and Brand Strategy of Food Network and Cooking Channel and current CEO of F&Co, a boutique food strategy firm that helps brands find relevance in food culture in today's marketplace. Having joined the network in 2001, Susie speaks to me about watching our industry, along with the rest of food, rise from an obscure channel for one audience to an entire genre of entertainment.
“I think food has exploded, people are more connected to food and want to know more. So many young people who have grown up with food as a form of entertainment have seen us become much more than just the Food Network and Martha Stewart,” Susie tells me when I ask about what she’s observed. And with so many avenues granted through technology, from Netflix and Amazon Prime shows to social media avenues, she is looking to help companies tap into the power that seems to be humming just out of reach.
“I do some talent coaching to help people find their brand and in marketing themselves—there are so many opportunities because food content is so popular. Social media, YouTube, Netflix...the opportunities to get an idea, a camera, and role that content are endless. The democratic age for food is here,” Susie explains, telling me that too often many do try to harness this outlet but in the wrong way.
Social media might present an incredible opportunity, but can be lost in the vastness of cyberspace if not done well. “The most important thing about building your brand is to bring it to life,” she shares. “A brand is a promise.”
When I ask who is doing it right in this broad wave of internet advertising, she speaks to the existence of “YouTube stars,” as well as those experiencing Facebook Live success. On a broader scale we discuss how you can give your brand its own identity and sass, like Wendy’s has managed to do, carving a space out on Twitter that would have been impossible 20 years ago.
“I’ve been working with a lot of restaurants, researching to see who’s winning in the social media game, and some I’ve noticed are quick service-style, namely Taco Bell and Wendy’s—who have taken their chain and given it a voice that is really catchy,” Susie notes.
Ok, we goofed. We meant to tell everyone we had Chicken Tenders, we just weren’t loud enough. So WE HAVE CHICKEN TENDERS. CHICKEN. TENDERS. WE HAVE THEM. THEY ARE VERY GOOD. https://t.co/hcQpic90lu— Wendy's (@Wendys) July 28, 2018
Another key fact to note is to differentiate your approach depending upon the media, rather than a “catch-all” approach. Instagram is amazing for imagery, while Facebook and YouTube might be better video avenues, and Twitter is best for brief facts and updates as opposed to longer-spanning stories.
“When looking at your brand, what brings it to life?” Susie poses. As both a writer and a consumer, it’s one I plan to ask much more often.