Enduring images

May 21, 2009

bettyadWhy is the spring so very busy and the winter so very boring? The weekend before last I could have gone to a slow food dinner, a posh lunch made by a celebrity chef, an afternoon symphony and to the Culinary Landmarks Conference. But I didn’t go to any of these events. Instead, I took two young teenagers to see X-Men Origins, grocery shopped, tried a recipe from the award-winning A16 Cookbook and reflected wistfully about the life of leisure I’m leading in a parallel universe. To be honest, I had a great weekend but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting more hours or days in the weekend so that I could do all the cool stuff I missed as well.

Although I didn’t get to go to the conference, I did get a chance to have a phone interview with the very fascinating Kristen Hardie, a featured speaker and – get this – a PHD candidate immersed in the study of Betty Crocker and other fictitious food brand characters.

I asked her if she thought imaginary brand icons were passé. After all the clout of celebrity endorsement seems all-powerful and “authenticity” and “transparency” are food business buzzwords my clients use on a daily basis:

“Hopefully not,” she said. “These icons do offer a security and myth-making opportunity which people like to buy into.”

What do you think? Do you agree with Kristen Hardie and QSR magazine that celebrity brand icons are too changeable to outlast the power of the never-aging Betty Crocker and eternally-smiling and patient looking Uncle Ben?