Pi Attitude Zone: Connectivity & Drive

Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless... Brand

Some of the oldest branded goods had their origins in the UK, many springing to prominence with British consumers over a century ago, when the advertising age was dawning. 

While the world’s biggest brands have typically “gone global” and transcended their country of origin, there are still examples of products whose famous names keep them prominent in the home market, but are largely unknown anywhere else.  They could collectively be described as “widow brands”.

A case in point is Marmite, a pungent condiment produced as a by-product of brewer’s yeast.  British consumers have been enthusiastically spreading the stuff on bread, toast and buttered crumpets for over a century.  It also adds zest and tang to sandwiches made with the blander British cheeses.  Yet outside the British Isles the product is little-known, (aside from a variant that established itself in New Zealand).  As if to reinforce the product’s isolation, Marmite’s UK advertising emphasizes how peculiar it tastes.

Perhaps even stranger, Britain has spawned “orphan brands”, products whose success has withered in the home market, but which cling on in far-flung places. 

A1 Sauce has ceased to be a favorite accompaniment to British roast beef dinners since the 1950s, yet it continues to be poured alongside millions of steaks in North America.  Fizzy drinks called Cydrax and Peardrax disappeared off the shelves of English stores in the 1980s, yet are still avidly slurped in Trinidad and Tobago.  The Peek Frean biscuit factory in London’s Bermondsey district closed its gates in 1989, yet the same biscuits have carved out a huge following in Pakistan.

Nor are these orphan brands only to be found among food and beverage products.  Royal Enfield motorcycles are long gone in Britain, but have secured a prosperous afterlife, under local ownership, in India.  India’s Hindus also buy quantities of Lifebuoy Soap, which every Briton from the 1930s to the 1960s knew “knocked out BO”, (i.e. body odor), but which hasn’t sold in its country of origin in years.

All these once-great brands have withered at home, but found markets in scattered and dispersed markets overseas.  The marketing mantra of “think global act local” can apparently result in a local brand disappearing in one place, yet finding a local home elsewhere.  Orphans, it seems, sometimes prosper.

Zone: Connectivity & Drive Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Consumer Products