Founders as Part of Marketing/Advertising Materials
There are several examples of companies producing food-related consumer packaged goods who utilize their founders in their marketing campaigns and branding. Ben & Jerry's, Perdue Farms, Orville Redenbacher, and KFC successfully included their founders within their campaigns, but Famos Amos Cookies was not so lucky. Although the cookie brand was not negatively impacted, its founder sold his business due to the stress, losing the rights to his own name in the process. Although the founders still appear in company branding, only Ben & Jerry's founders remain visible in marketing campaigns.
Below you will find our list of five well-known companies that use their founders in their marketing and advertising materials.
Ben & Jerry's
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield gave their first names to their ice cream company in 1978, and this personal touch carried through in all forms of their marketing. The two men first appeared in a commercial for their company in 1985, and are also featured in every other advertisement type the company has utilized.
Indicators of success include the decision by new leadership after the company's sale to keep the founders as an element of the brand's marketing. It was felt that the company's quirky image was too closely associated with the men who had created it to be successful without them. With Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield actively involved to this day, Ben & Jerry's sales have reached $477 million in 2017.
The first Perdue chickens were purchased for the Perdue family farm in 1920, and it has remained a family-driven brand throughout its long history. In the late 1960s, the changing market forced Perdue to enter the retail arena directly where previously they had operated behind the scenes. To create brand awareness, Perdue placed Franklin Parsons Perdue in his first commercial in 1972. It was the first in a long series of TV ad spots.
The founder-focused marketing used by Perdue was successful, somewhat surprisingly so given skinny founder and his rather whiny voice. Yet, in an indication of the campaign's success, even BusinessWeek acknowledged his power and ability to convince his audience of his product's quality. Perdue's success is marked by their entry on the Forbes 50 List, with a revenue of around $6.5 billion.
In 1952, Orville Redenbacher paid a marketing company $13,000 to help brand his new company, including supplying a name. They chose his name as the company title, making the brand an extension of its founder. Other marketing was developed with him as the central figure. After his brand launched, he went on a 6-month promotional tour, appearing on radio shows and at in-person events. The marketing focused on Redenbacher also includes a TV commercial with the popcorn company's founder as the star in 1976. One major indication of success is the position of this brand as top consumed popcorn in the United States, a fact that cannot be separated from the branding focused on its founder.
Founded in 1930 by Harland Sanders, later to be known throughout the United States as "Colonel Sanders", an honorary title that has become synonymous with the KFC brand. The iconic image of the Colonel was deliberately cultivated, with the man appearing in the very first KFC logo, when it was still Kentucky Fried Chicken, and in all the marketing to come for decades after. He too was featured in television ads, debuting in 1969. Similar to the other brands discussed above, the success of the company cannot be divested from the use of the founder in the marketing efforts. A sign of the success of KFC's choice to use Colonel Sanders in their marketing can thus be found in its billion dollar value today.
In this lone example of the founder of a company used for branding with negative results, Famous Amos Cookies still cannot be labeled a failure. The cookie brand, founded in 1975 and named for its founder, has earned and retained great success, partially due to the decision to employ the founder in the branding. The initial success experienced by the company, it brought in $300,000 in sales its first year, was the result of the marketing and branding related to Famous Amos. Sadly, the founder was not prepared for the intense stress related to the financial pressures that come with success. He eventually sold his company and lost the rights to his Famous Amos nickname.
Those companies offering consumer goods that choose to include their founder in their branding and marketing efforts often see immense success when done well. All five of the companies discussed within this overview were successful, and all can at least partially thank their iconic founders for that success. Famous Amos was the sole example of a founder who might regret being used in that branding. Of the companies discussed, only the founders of Ben & Jerry's are still actively involved in the marketing of the companies they founded.