Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thinking Truffle Advertising in 2012? I Bet 248 Million Turkeys You Won’t See Any.

Having just finished off more turkey-and-dressing leftovers, a look ahead to the hot food trends of 2012 is worth a post. Trendy foods that catch on may result in beyond-local marketing and advertising a year or two later.

Hmmm: how about the opinion of Loni Kay Stark from the West Coast? In ”The Hottest Food Trends for 2012,” she’s pointing to gourmet French fries and savory flavors; those’d be vegetable and bacon and lobster. Grilled cheese sandwiches are the new burgers. Hand-pulled noodles and vegetable desserts. Breakfast favorites re-purposed – consider savory-grilled waffle with artisanal cheese. And red hot chili peppers.

Writing for Forbes, Andrew Bender is betting on mead and charcuterie (artisan-cured meats); botanical ice pops and, yes, truffles. (I am not giving him any credit for Brussels Sprouts which ”have made it to the delicious list.” I think not!)

What’s attractive about these look-ahead, often-locavore kinds of food and drink, is that some will be taken up by major food producers or retailers and you’ll see ad campaigns to support them. Kraft Cracker Barrel’s already begun to push ”aged” cheeses into the big, broad middle market. Botanical ice pops are strictly local now – how long before one of the bigs picks up the idea for a ”healthy” treat line? Chaucer’s Mead from California is already available at 70-plus locations of Total Wine and More. Keep your eyes peeled for trendy food adverts in 2012.

On the other hand, I saw hardly any turkey ads around Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s because this time of year turkeys are...everywhere. If there’s any new trend in turkey, it’s the many fresh, even unusual ways the bird can be prepared for Thanksgiving.

Trend-wise, though, it’s a no-brainer: the number of turkeys expected by be raised in the US this year is 248 million. Hard to beat that with your hand-pulled noodles.

Ads themselves have been sparse. There was the Carl’s Jr, ”Turkeyburger” commercial – starring Miss Turkey! That was back in the Spring. Plus plenty of ”Go Vegan” messages this time of year…not really the same. Nope. Aside from grocery store supplements, most Thanksgiving turkey messages come from the cuisine and homemakers’ magazines.

In the midst of our holiday-induced turkey torpor, it doesn’t hurt to see what’s going to be hot, food-wise, in the coming least in ”parts of the United States and Canada where cooking is treated quite seriously,” to follow an argument by novelist Neal Stephenson. He contrasts this with a ”midwestern/middle American phenomenon” of which traditional Thanksgiving is a part.

One thought more: trend-setting friends and colleagues, writing on Facebook the week leading up to Thanksgiving this year, unfailing mentioned...turkey as the key item of their feasts. Not tofu-turkey. Not gourmet boar meat or wild Alaska Chinook salmon. Turkey.

It goes so well with beer.

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