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Monday, 07 May 2007



There is certainly a lot of middle class snobbery occurring.

I mean, look at the second thread posted on Innocent's blog - one of the chaps rants against capitalism. What nonsense.

I equated it to growing up in my blog, but to be blunt, I think that, plus a healthy dose of middle class snobbery, is entirely to blame.


Hi there!

My thoughts are similar to yours in some ways but slightly more concerned and wary I guess. I admire them for being so open about it, and love their transparency. I respect them for being a business and doing what they want to do. And I am calm enough to see that this is a trial. But, snobbery aside, I can't bring myself to feel that this is the right brand 'fit' for Innocent, and as a result I worry about the impact it will have on the brand. I don't necessarily buy the whole 'well they do Tesco's...' thing because I don't think the objective of Tescos has been to seduce children with junk food, even though I get that that is debatable. I also get that McDonalds have done a lot to change their ways and admire that but until they become a truly changed beast I'm not entirely sure it's right for Innocent. Starbucks is another debate then, and that for me is where the snobbery comes in, but it just feels as though there is a more considered, tailored, warmer, SOMETHING, feel to that brand that lets it get away with what it offers (and it doesn't ruthlessly target very young children), that feels like a slightly better fit. Perhaps that is a snobby view, but why can't snobbery come into brands anyway. Isn't that an essence of a brand, that you feel as though it's 'for you'? Anyway, I don't feel as though I have a solid argument, just a lingering concern. But that may be the cynic in me talking. In sum, I'm not APPALLED, but I'm not entirely supportive either and am not sure it's right. But I do wish them luck with it.


It's a curious trial, certainly, but whether you view it as Innocent rubber stamping McDonalds attempts to change, or whether you see it as Innocent being cruelly manipulated by an evil corporation depends entirely on your relationship with both brands.

Me? I'm slightly jaded anyway, so take this with a pinch of salt. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect brand tailored to your individual needs anyway, and I still think Innocent have remained true to their roots.

I just despair at some of the comments on their blog.

Amelia Torode

Hey Angus - nice to hear from you again. Thank you for your comments.

It's a bit of a "heart" and "head" thing for me really. Logically I totally get it and buy the arguments, but I do worry that somehow a hip, honest, ethical brand might get the poor side of the deal. The trial does nothing but good for the brand of McDonalds, whereas for Innocent some of the happy shine of their brand could well be rubbed off.

I love Lady Bloggers!!

I've no idea who innocent are, not being a UK resident anymore, but I'm sure many of McD's customers had never heard of innocent before this trial.

Getting their message to the many millions of McD customers, if I may be so twee, is a case of lighting a candle than cursing the darkness.

As Innocent say "a company slated for selling unhealthy food asks to sell food that is good for people it seemed more irresponsible of us to say no than yes"


That's how I felt too Amelia, although I noticed the email from Rich which is quite impressive and has helped sway me a bit, re Greenpeace's thoughts on McDonalds. Comments like that can make all the difference, I hope they convey that to others. Still, more of a win for McDonalds but with intent like that behind Innocent it gives it a nicer feel.

David Brain

It's ironic that when you think about the brand values of Innocent you cringe at the thought of the association . . but when you think about it, if they really do want to change the world for the better (my take on one of thse values) this makes total sense. McDonalds do a lot of good stuff by the way. Check out this blog: http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com/



really fascinating stuff. I have to think about it before taking a side but its a very interesting story.



I agree that in this partnership it seems that McDonalds comes out as much more of a winner (I mean I even feel a bit warm towards them after hearing about the endorsement from Greenpeace).

Innocent have taken a big risk here. I used to love Pret but was disgusted when I heard that they were associated with McDonalds and immediately saw all their chatty labelling as contrived rubbish. (maybe that's just me.. but I haven't eaten there since)

However, you can't criticise an ethical company for trying to help an unheathy food company offer healthier options. I just hope that Innocent are able to get their side of the story out there.

Maybe a special edition label is in order?


Will, I think you're being just as snobby when you, in your very superior way, despair at the comments on Innocent's blog.


Personnaly I dont like Greenpeace, but that's because I am French and they did not want us to blow our nuclear bombs in Polynesia (and also more seriously because i think that Nuclear energy is a way to fight global warming). So any association with them does not do it for me.

McDonalds on the contrary - I like. They give jobs to he youth in France, help them pay their studies. A big factor for second generation immigrants integration although some lefty lunatics like Jose Bove think it is better to dismantle them. The food i like (once in a while), and i'd rather have a good coke with my Royal Cheese than a smoothie.

Am i adding anything to the debate?


I love this debate. Think it brings up loads of great issues which to me all point to the fact that we're in the process of figuring out how brands can and should behave in the green marketing era. So some waffle from me on that:

Point 1: My POV on all green/sustainability branding/marketing is that it's better to do something quite good now than wait do something perfect at a putative point in the future - because if we follow route 2, nothing will ever change, or at least not nearly fast enough. So Innocent could have waited until McDs had totally cleaned up their act (which might never happen) or they could say, you know what, we could do something now that will make a difference (and McDs is on the right track) so let's try. Pragmatism over perfection.

Point 2 is that any brand which goes out on a limb like this will attract scrutiny and censure. That's just the way the world works. I hope it doesn't stop other brands from trying because we need them to.

Point 3, I get the feeling people want Innocent to be cute and safe, but Innocent wants to be more than that. I know this opens a huge can of worms about brands as contracts with their consumers etc etc (and I do think sustainability efforts make most sense and stand to have most traction if they are within the context of the brand), but I also think, as Innocent clearly did, that it would be wrong to allow current ideas about the brand to constrain you from doing what you perceive to be the right thing. So maybe what we're seeing here is Innocent growing up - or at least the brand expanding its definition of itself/its role?

Finally, and I will shut up now, I think in the new world we can expect to see more of these ‘strange bedfellow’ partnerships - and I think that's a good thing. This is about the greenies and the old corporates coming together which at a practical level is exactly what needs to happen.

Sorry to blab on. F.

Tom Hopkins

Glad to see the debate raging here and on the innocent blog however must admit I'm at a bit of a loss as to what it's all about.

If innocent had started selling Big Macs, then obviously, that would be no good but why on earth would we deny good, healthy, cause-related products to otherwise morally and nutritionally restricted punters and their children?

If brands like McDonalds respond to positive consumer trends like health, we should pat them on their back and reward them. And if it makes money for Innocent, all the better. I trust the innocent guys won't sell out, and don't suppose the pressure from McDonalds is any greater than that from the supermarkets (not famously reasonable buyers).

And if we do want to stage a little uptight middle-class protest, why not starting buying ALL your innocent products at the golden arches. Imagine what that would do to their ranging strategy, and watch how capitalism selects for what is wanted.


Paul - The reason I despair is because I (and yes, you are right - re reading my comments, it does come across as superior) cannot understand the whole 'selling out' notion.

Innocent are trialing some smoothies for heaven's sake. They haven't been sold to McDonalds, they are keeping their brand values and (after all) they are a business - they do exist to make money.

That some people don't seem to grasp this confuses me.

What is fascinating is how many incredibly emotive responses there have been to this (mine included). I didn't realise the hatred for McDonalds ran quite so deep - I was aware of the McLibel trial, but heck..

And I will stop there, only to say that I think that Freya has hit the nail on the head.


It's like watching an old dear friend dally with the bad boys! Really persuasive post and thought provoking but am still grieving the brand marriage!


One of the things that I was told by a researcher in a debrief recently was that "people don't love brands anymore."
I think that this whole issue demonstrates that this is simply not true.


As usual it's taken me over a week to work out my feelings on this.

It mostly makes me excited - I find myself cheering Innocent for doing something brave and dangerous and unexpected because they believe it is the right thing for them to do.


Amelia, perhaps it's so emotive because, on the whole, we don't love brands anymore (although I'm not that convinced we ever did).

Will, I think you're confusing Innocent's perspective, with the consumers perspective. As someone who tries to help companies make more money for a job I do understand why they are doing it. As a consumer, and therefore someone who feels like they participate in the brand, I don't care if it makes good business sense, it just feels odd.



I think the difference comes in is that I've never participated in a relationship with a brand to the degree that some of the commenters have on Innocent's blog.

For me, however, it's not purely business sense, but the way I see McDonalds and Innocent evolving as brands - it makes a certain degree of sense to me. And yes, that's with my brand thinking hat on, and not from a interacting consumer's perspective.

Speaking honestly, it doesn't sadden me; it's a bit surprising, sure, but as you say - I'm not convinced we ever loved brands in the first place - and the more I think about it, the more I think it makes sense.

And yes, you are right. The reason I come across as more detached/confused is that I'm not involved in such an impassioned degree as many of the consumers are.


At first I think that I had the same reaction as many did (or at least the ones who work on brands for a living): this isn't good for either brand.

But the more I thought about it the more I just felt that we need to let go and care a little bit less. I think particularly the brand planners I have worked with get so caught up in the belief of brands that they forget that brands can and should change.

If you have railed against McDonald's in the past (and I did as a teenager), then you have to ask yourself whether you would prefer to see the improvements you demanded or to hold fast to your anger.

Richard Reid's e-mail and the stamp of approval from Greenpeace make me think it's time for me to let go of the bitterness and give the Big McD a chance to turn for the better.

For me the past few years have also been a learning experience; big isn't always bad. Sitting through a presentation from Scott Bedbury (author of a New Brand World), I was struck by how hard companies like Starbucks worked to do the right thing, and they would still get protesters outside their shops.

Brands like Innocent have been seen as archetypically rebellious. Every Virgin needs its BA; every Body Shop needs its Estee Lauder. Where Innocent is different is that it is, well, innocent in archetype. Sure, it has portrayed itself as a small, different competitor that does things differently, but it's always backed it up with a personality that asks, "Of course we just crush some fruit. Isn't that the obvious thing to do?" There's less shouting and table-slamming in the attitude that the brand has brought to its communications.

That's a long way of saying that I'm really optimistic for both brands. It's a sign that McDonald's is on the right track and that Innocent could reach more people.


Dan, thank you so much for your comment. I'm really interested by the point that you make about changing brands. As Planners and ad people, we work so hard to give the brand a "personality", a "mission", a "reason." We try and define human attributes to the brand and we expect them to be constant and never changing. However, with human beings we grow, develop and mature. I think that this issue is an example of two brands growing up. It's right to hold brands accountable, but its also right to be prepared to admit that brands can change.

I'm also interested by the fact that often brands seem to have to have an enemy, someone to position themselves against whereas actually Innocent never did that. They calmly said what they did.

I have spoken to one of the other Innocent founders since this all started and although they said that they expected some negativity, the sheer violent hatred of McDonalds took them a bit by surprise.

Thank you for the comment!

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