April 28th, 2011
For All Those Who Aren’t on the Royal Guest List
The New York Times
SINCE her invention in 1921, Betty Crocker has symbolized mainstream American kitchen values. So why then is a section of the Betty Crocker Web site devoted to celebrating the wedding of a member of the British royal family?
Yes, even mythical brand characters have become part of the marketing efforts in this country to capitalize on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday. Recipes for versions of the bride’s and groom’s wedding cakes can be found at bettycrocker.com/royalwedding, along with ideas for “royal wedding viewing parties” and dishes like Union Jack Fruit Pizza.
“Betty Crocker has always been about bringing people ideas for making food a part of their celebrations,” said Cheryl Welch, director of the Betty Crocker kitchens and food content at General Mills.
“It came up one day, ‘What if Will and Kate did call us to make Betty Crocker part of their celebration?’ ” Ms. Welch said. “These are the things we’d show them if they’d call.”
Improbable, to be sure, as Ms. Welch acknowledged. But with expectations that the royal wedding will be “a huge cultural event,” she said, “we’re looking for ways to join in the celebration.”
In the lengthy run-up to the royal nuptials, a reaction to the initial euphoria has recently emerged, casting doubt on how interested Americans will actually be in the ceremony.
The skepticism has been fed by perceptions that the outpouring of commercialism has crossed a line because of the volume as well as the outlandishness. For instance, after Papa John’s International hired a food artist to create a pizza to sell in Britain that bears a portrait of the prince and Ms. Middleton, the trade publication Advertising Age covered it in two lines: “Papa John’s renders sane world speechless. There is no excuse for this sort of marketing tie-in.”
Andrew Varga, chief marketing officer at Papa John’s, said: “Papa John’s has a platform we like to call ‘Papa culture.’ It injects the brand into events large and small.” The £500 from the sale of the one-of-a-kind pizza will be donated to charity, he added.
Critics also point to trinkets like replica engagement rings, a Princess Kate Bride Doll and a collector’s plate festooned with “magnificent hand-set faux jewels,” as an ad proclaims.
“Yes, there’s cynicism about celebrating a huge royal wedding while the world economy struggles,” said Eileen O’Neill, group president for the Discovery Channel and TLC at Discovery Communications.
“But we’re delighted about enjoying a moment of happiness,” she added. “So many of us believe fairy tales come true.”
To that end, TLC has been offering viewers 89 hours of programming with royal themes, among them “Royally Astounding: 30 Defining Days of the Monarchy,” “Untold Stories of a Royal Bridesmaid” and “Wild About Harry.”