Beef, Lamby, RIP

EBLEX’s well-recognised Beefy and Lamby campaign is finally being put to rest. But has it achieved what it set out to do? Ed Bedington investigates


The bats are being hung up and the lights in the pavilion switched off; after more than four years slogging Quality Standard meat, Beefy and Lamby are being bowled out.


Like them or loathe them, the pair have been pushing their meaty message to consumers since 2005 and have achieved high recognition rates.


Jane Ritchie Smith, consumer marketing manager with EBLEX, said Beefy and Lamby were there to cause a stir: “We wanted something that would create fame for the mark, something that would create quite a bit of noise, not just wallpaper TV advertising.”

According to the EBLEX stats, that noise certainly got noticed. Ritchie Smith said the adverts reached 97.5% of housewives with kids and, for the most recent burst of TV advertising, around 79% were reported to be aware of the ads, with 56% recalling it was for Quality Standard beef or lamb. She added: “The brand currently has 55% awareness with consumers, although it reached 69% when the TV campaign was running.”


When the campaign was first unveiled to the trade, back in September 2004, eyebrows were raised over the style and choice of characters – Beefy (Ian Botham) and Allan Lamb (Lamby). Many in the industry felt that using cricketing heroes from more than 20 years ago was unlikely to appeal to the housewives of the Noughties.


Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, the Black Farmer, was one critic of the concept and is happy to see the characters dropped. “I’m lifting up my hands and shouting ‘Halleluia’. It should have been ditched a long time ago. The person buying the meat is a woman; two cricketing heroes would never appeal to them.”


However, Ritchie-Smith defended that decision. “We effectively created two characters, rather than having Ian or Allan. We always intended to present it as an animation, taking the two back to how they looked in their heyday, presenting them in a Morecambe and Wise-esque fashion.”


She said the animation has allowed people to see them simply as characters in their own right – rather than the cricketing heroes they actually represent – and noted that extensive research was carried out before launching the campaign, which showed the concept went down well with consumers.


“The biggest answer to the criticism of people not knowing them is how successful they’ve been with young children, who mob them whenever we take them out to events. They’re just characters to them,” she said.


In addition, she pointed out that the last thing EBLEX wanted was to create a bland campaign. “You want people to either love it or hate it. We wanted to polarise opinion and create something that was memorable.”


Norman Bagley, policy director with AIMS, said for his members, the campaign had been a great success. “For my sector it has allowed affordable access to a quality-based brand, which has succeeded in delivering significant penetration. I think the campaign has been a great success – it has achieved a lot over the last four years.” He praised EBLEX for achieving a great deal with limited funds.


Over the years the campaign has certainly not been static, and Ritchie-Smith is happy to admit they did not always get it right: “When we launched the campaign, the QS Mark wasn’t coming through as strongly as we liked. However, we addressed this with the Doppelgänger adverts which linked the two much more strongly.”


She said the QS Mark was effectively now in a position to stand on its own two feet. “Last year we started to market the mark in different ways – through sponsorship of Market Kitchen for example – so we’ve been slowly moving towards the new campaign.”


EBLEX said it will now focus its marketing on the QSM’s core “food values” of assurance and eating quality. Chief executive Richard Lowe said the new focus on assurance and eating quality would ensure a smooth integration of the QSM campaign with any future promotional work that may be carried out under the Red Tractor logo, following the Agriculture and Horticulture Developments Board’s announcement that it is backing a shift to one single Quality Standard Mark.


However, much like the criticism of Beefy and Lamby, there are many who question the ability of the Red Tractor to communicate effectively with consumers. Emmanuel-Jones said: “I don’t believe the consumer really understands what the Red Tractor is about and, unless they do, they won’t be supportive of it.


He added that, with the demise of Beefy and Lamby, there was still some work to be done on communicating assurance: “My view is one down, one more to go.”




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