Over the weekend, I watched a good amount of the Cooking Channel.
For those of you who do not watch it, the Cooking Channel is Scripps Networks remake of Martha Stewart’s Living Network.
Its also where Scripps moved its prime time base of demonstrative cooking programming to as it elected to showcase more “contest programming” shows on Food Network.
I think I wrote a blog about a year ago about how a lot of the network leadership has sunk into the mindset of placing more value on ratings vs. more value on brand stewardship.
Food Network and GSN (Game Show Network) are becoming more and more and more like one another.
And the Pawn shows are now found on everything from TLC to History Channel to National Geo to TruTV.
Enough about the lack of network brand leadership.
I watched a show that aired on Cooking Channel at noon on Saturday that is a great demonstration of what I will term a catalyst of change.
The name of the show is My Grandmother’s Ravioli hosed by a guy named Mo Rocca. The show features grandparents cooking treasured family recipes in their home kitchens.
The Italian grandparents featured on the show struck me personally. They reminded me a bunch of the heritage of my family roots. The grandmother was a lot like my grandmother who actually was a professional Italian cook.
They didn’t measure the ingredients, they didn’t craft the product for the camera, and they referred to the ingredients partly in abbreviated Italian names and partly in English.
It brought back real images that I fondly remembered from my days growing up.
I was intrigued two-fold.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog about YouTube and how it was changing market perceptions of “staging” in filming and bringing to life reality TV.
The broadcast industry reacted and two camps emerged.
One camp quickly emerged that embraced the YouTube format … in fact, actually produced shows that were comprised of nothing but video clips posting on YouTube.
Networks like MTV, SPIKE TV, VH1 and TruTV quickly integrated YouTube reality TV largely driven by the belief that the younger emerging audience group – that each network was fashioned around reaching – would quickly shift from watching reality video online to watching their network programming on the TV.
Few networks understood what was actually emerging in front of them. Few networks ever really reached a level of the success they had envisioned.
The other broadcast industry camp believed that it was their mission to differentiate the quality of production and provide the viewership base with much richer film quality versus “that cheap stuff” being posted on YouTube.
More ad agencies posted membership in the second camp than in the first camp. After all, what could those "masses" out on the streets even begin to know about the art of filming a commercial?
And to film a commercial that cheap???
I have no idea who the catalyst of change was housed at the Cooking Channel, but someone perhaps up there in Knoxville, Tennessee got to sipping some of that Smoking Mountain Kool-Aid and ventured out with a camera in the back of the pick-up truck to produce a new television show.
What intrigues me even more was how this show might very well be a catalyst of change in we are re-rooting ourselves in the reality of just who we are and our heritage.
There was nothing contrived in the show. Nothing staged. No primping. Limited special lighting.
The show captured a scenario and information set that is of value today.
As the Boomers re-discover the kitchen and Millennials experience it for the first time, Betty Crocker’s recipes are honest, real and truthful… something of a rarity in our new electronic world.
The show captured a sense of roots.
Something that is returning whether individuals seek it out in Live-Work-Play communities or individuals are confronting as employers chuck the idea of moving teams around every two or three years.
The show captured a reality that we can place ourselves in that is believable and true.
What catapulted Archie Bunker and All In The Family was that it brought to the screen something that was not only perceived real in its staging, but more than anything, it confronted the really of what took place in many homes.
If you read the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), you cannot help but be connected with the brand and operational challenge faced by JC Penney.
I vow to write a blog about JC Penney and highlight it as a great example of what to avoid doing with a brand.
But for the purpose of this blog post, I will only use it as a great example of where reality was dismissed at the expense of staging the brand.
In today’s WSJ, there is an article about Sears and how its CEO’s push to become the mass brand for technology and entertainment is not driving sales.
My bet is that 90 days from now, that CEO will be replaced.
Speaking of being replaced, the CEO of P&G was replaced with the resurrected past-CEO of P&G. That is also becoming an ongoing drama in the WSJ.
To P&G’s credit – and perhaps the past CEO who was ousted – a number of their household cleaning and detergent brands have been crafted to reach the emerging Millennial home-makers.
My bet is that there are many at P&G who cannot accept that there are market changes that truly challenge the conventional models that moved Consumer Package Goods brands in the 1990s.
On the surface, My Grandmother’s Ravioli is a great experience to watch. You will learn some very genuine ways to cook great family dinners. You will also find the show to be very real and identifiable.
From a brand and business perspective, My Grandmother’s Ravioli provides a glimpse into the architecture of what is emerging in the marketplace that smart brand teams will embrace.