If there’s one person who can tell this story, it’s our founder, Mary Bigham. Spend a few minutes on the phone with Mary, and you’ll likely hear about her love of vintage cookbooks and her shelf-busting collection, including several by the original queen of food content: “Betty Crocker.” Spoiler alert: Beloved “Betty Crocker” isn’t even a real person!
Once upon a time, in 1921, The Washburn Crosby Company (a General Mills predecessor), held a Gold Medal flour promotion and among the responses found thousands of baking questions. Long before the internet was even a seed of an idea, this savvy company seized on the opportunity to earn complete trust from its consumers by demonstrating its expertise — over its own products — by answering those questions in a homespun way indicative of the times. You guessed it: They created Betty Crocker™.
It’s true that Betty Crocker isn’t a real person, but thanks to a myriad of products, she’s been in our homes for so long that we feel as if she’s the favorite aunt who brings all the best foods to the party. Her name is a brilliant mix of a Washburn director’s last name and a friendly early 1900s first name; her signature, the winning entry from an employee contest; and her voice and face, one of many “Bettys” who represented the well-loved homemaker in print, on radio and on TV.
Washburn’s Betty Crocker Kitchens were some of the first test-kitchens in the industry, thanks to the wild popularity of the “First Lady of Food.” In fact, in 1945, she was the second-best-known woman in America — after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Her wartime efforts helping women make the most of rations, her cookbooks and her signature red spoon logo are legendary.
Modern-Day Bettys Create Brand Trust
Why the love fest for Betty Crocker? The fact that we could fill a few paragraphs with her history strongly demonstrates that consumers are open to, and welcome, an authoritative voice to help them solve questions and provide information in the food space, even if that advice is coming from a fictional character. Consumers are hungry for content that educates, informs and entertains so they can be creative, successful and have fun in the kitchen.
Smart brands are embracing the modern-day Betty strategy and claiming authority over their own products. After all, if a brand doesn’t know how to use its own products, then it will lose consumers’ confidence — and those consumers will question how to use those products and, potentially, choose other brands.
The good news: You don’t need to compete with a beloved legend and create a fictional character. Smart brands are using their platforms — websites and social media — as the modern-day cookbooks and radio shows. They fill them with consumer-friendly custom recipes, hands-in-pan videos, stop motion shorts, social shorts, photography and blogs to inform, educate and entertain, enriching lives and all the while creating loyal consumers. How-to videos and even unbranded content strategies bring consumers to your platforms so that they’ll be successful in the kitchen — and that success, that just-right kitchen victory, brings them back, again and again.
Consumers have been devouring this content even more during the novel coronavirus pandemic, as they find themselves living under stay-at-home orders or lingering restrictions, often homeschooling children as they work and socialize virtually. Brands that show them how to meal plan and cook to fight food fatigue, especially during the holidays, provide comfort, familiarity, support and a service that won’t be forgotten.
Creating Your Brand’s Expertise With Content
Brands have a few choices when it comes to creating custom culinary content. Very few are lucky enough to have an in-house team, so they choose between hiring a full-service culinary content agency or engaging bloggers or freelance creators.
A full-service culinary content agency is the most cost-effective way for a brand to avail itself of the full menu of professional services needed to rock a modern-day Betty story: recipe development, a recipe test-kitchen, a food-and-drink video production studio, photographers, and writing and design capabilities. You’ll want to look for a content agency with a robust portfolio and deep experience creating authentic and approachable content for the home cook.
Dish Works Grows Your Authority
The Dish Works team of professionals is here for you so you can be the authority and create culinary content that your customers are seeking. Food is a great comforter, as well as a life-sustaining necessity, in good times and in unsettling times. We’ll help your customers embrace being in the kitchen, with joy and fun using your products. And, we’ll help your brand stay engaged as the authority over its own offerings.
Our team loves food and drink, yet our other superpowers are caring, innovating and executing. Our company was built on a virtual model, so we excel at strategizing, planning, creating and serving our clients “from a distance.”
Betty Crocker photos courtesy of General Mills