In February 2009, Barack Obama visited Ottawa and ordered two maple cookies from the Moulin de Provence bakery in the city’s famous By Ward Market. When it was reported in the news, orders came flying in at a rate of 2000 a day.
In December 2009, I visited Ottawa and saw this outside the bakery:
The biggest sign outside the bakery
And this inside:
Inside the bakery
A few brand points.. by saying what he said on camera, President Obama endorsed the product. Orders started flying in so Moulin de Provence co-branded the product with Obama by calling them “Obama Cookies”, playing on the equity and goodwill that the Obama name still has. Then the cookie became the main ingredient brand for the bakery.
As a consumer, here is how I felt:
1. They’ve gone too far with the Obama homage (Ob-hommage?). It feels more over the top than a weeping Madonna tribute.
2. Big pictures saying “I love this country”? I can’t wait for the news analysis once there’s a Maple Syrup trade war between Vermont and Quebec/Ontario in the next few years.
3. They’ve forgotten who they are. There is not one clear sign saying “Moulin de Provence” or “Authentic French Bakery” to be seen (or maybe my attention was diverted to the Obamaness).
4. They’ve relegated the rest of their (wonderful looking and wonderful tasting) products to the land of lost pastries. It’s kind of the LA Galaxy / David Beckham / rest of the players situation of the Ottawa bakery world.
If it were me, I would also have made a big deal about the fact that Obama loved the cookies, but used the opportunity to build awareness of my actual brand – Moulin de Provence. Like Accenture and Gillette know with Tiger, the magic of putting all your eggs with one endorser / brand personality can be fleeting. You need to sell some golden eggs, but you should also ensure the goose and the family can survive without them.
Finally, just to show you how crazy Ottawa went with one popular president visit, here is a Christmas card on display at a popular Chinese restaurant on Ogilvie Road.
Obama-branded Canadian Librarian Christmas Card
Parliamentary Librarian William Young: The most interesting thing that happened to me this year was I met President Obama.
Mandarin Ogilvie: One of our most frequent guests met President Obama. We must be good!
I guess he is pretty cool. But why does an Obama cookie taste like maple?