Friday, December 2, 2011

Two Brands, Four Names: Marketing Marvels.

Who doesn't like ice cream? Have you ever tried Dreyer’s, I mean Edy’s? Little did I know when I moved from one coast to another that I’d have to become reacquainted with two products and call them by another name. Why IS that?

Edy’s ice cream came to be in 1928, and surprise, the partners were Joseph EDY and William DREYER. They opened a retail shop in Oakland, California to sell their frozen delights and are credited with the creation of Rocky Road in the late 30’s. Expansion included supplying ice cream to restaurants in and around San Francisco. The partnership lasted 19 years and retained the name of Edy’s until the Dreyer’s son took the reins in 1953 and decided that HIS last name should be on the products.

The company started offering their products in supermarkets during the sixties. The early Eighties brought big change for Dreyer’s as they the Edy’s name was reinstated for use with products sold east of the Rockies. Seems that a “little” company called Breyers had a strong foothold with their frozen delights and potential confusion for consumers strongly influenced the name decision.

Apparently the choice to move forward with two brand names for the same product, same packaging, proved to be a profitable choice. The company enjoys continued success today.  However, Breyers DID expand across the country in the mid-eighties, so it is possible to find Dreyer’s and Breyers next to each other in your local grocery store.

Moving on to another creamy concoction…

I recently landed on the website A video popped up about holidays, turkeys and Hellman’s mayonnaise. Hellman’s website is mentioned while the home page sports a big Best Foods logo. Huh? A tale of two companies colliding.

Richard Hellmann, one of many in the wave of Western European immigrating to the United States, opened a deli in New York City in 1905. His wife’s mayonnaise, a featured ingredient in his wares, proved to be tasty enough to sell separately. Originally, two recipes were sold. One was the famous “blue ribbon” version that lives on today. While Hellmann is credited with selling the first commercially available mayonnaise, believe it or not, this creamy product originated in Europe during the 1700’s.

While Hellmann grew his empire, Best Foods was cooking up similar products on the West Coast. BestFoods traces their roots back to the 1800’s when American Linseed was established in New Jersey. In 1917 American Linseed acquired Nucoa a manufacturer of butter and mayonnaise. The purchase included the Best Foods subsidiary.  Their mayo product, labeled Best Foods enjoyed healthy growth in the West Coast states during the 1920’s, paralleling Hellmann’s westward expansion.

1932: Best Foods buys Hellmann’s. One can surmise that Best Foods was likely the larger of the two corporations, and perhaps Richard Hellmann was ready to retire, but who knows?

By that time, the two brand names were firmly established in their regions. Best Foods made the decision to retain both names and that stands firm today, with Hellmann’s enjoying popularity roughly east of the Rockies.

While the Best Foods mayo retained the same name, Best Foods the corporation underwent a few name changes over the years. Purchased by Corn Products Refining in the late fifties, becoming Corn Products Company, 10 years later known as CPC International, which split off Best Foods in 1997 and christened it BestFoods (one word), and finally acquired by Unilever in 2003. Are you dizzy yet?

The takeaway, (besides our continued enjoyment of tasty products) of the story is: The power of consumers and brand names can create some unusual branding decisions. Which products are in your neck of the woods? Edy’s or Dreyer’s ice cream? Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise?

Click here for a more recent commercial for Hellmann’s that has the jingle that I remember as a kid.

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