Collins Street! Melbourne’s most expensive shopping strip, home to some of the glitziest, priciest brands in the world and some of the most gorgeous window displays. Despite what many of us think of these global names, years of slick branding and marketing have placed them at the top of the luxury must-have tree. You could pick up a Zegna suit, a Chanel handbag and a Tiffany ring in a godawful powder blue box, all in the one place.
The Prof and I live up one end of this strip (the Marseille end, ahem), so often weave our way through the crowds to pick up Coles milk, tinned tuna and other comestibles, all in the one place.
This weekend, two bright ladies bore down upon us bearing baskets full of long, cellophane-wrapped items. Shit – long-stemmed rose-sellers! We prepared to flee for our lives. Trapped in their tractor beam of charm, we discovered that the extraordinary pair were making their own fudge, marshmallow and caramel delights and were taking them to the streets to see what the punters of Collins Street thought about it.
These plucky women had lashings of chutzpah. They had cheek. They had oomph they had vim they had zip. They hadn’t, however, a marketing or branding idea in their heads, and after close questioning (by us) we ascertained the following:
- They hadn’t settled on a business name yet
- The products had no names or packaging
- No phone number or email contact
- No business card
- No tasting samples, so people couldn’t give them direct feedback
- No website, obvs.
It was as though they had dropped fully formed from 1962, from a CWA cook-off, from the 1st Dubbo Scout Troop’s Meeting Hall, from the moon, to enchant and delight us all. They were the sassy aunties of sweet treats. Amid the swirling shoppers, with their wicker props and snappy patter, I felt at any point the cast of Oliver was going to reel into place with a rousing rendition of ‘Who Will Buy?’
It was a pleasure to meet people with no Twitter account, email, Facebook, Pinterest, Survey Monkey, tagline, viral appeal, branding know-how, nor Google Analytics account. I’m not even sure they’d brought a pen.
Most businesses I work with now have (or think they have) some sort of marketing savvy. Their business could be about anything: accounting, packaging, medical research, art, property, IT and yes, even jewellery. A lot of guff is made to me about keywords, ‘getting an online presence’, SEO, and ‘what I know about social media’. Everyone’s now a marketing guru, and to that day I hadn’t met a company willing to take it to the streets on nowt but a wing and a prayer.
My god I hope the spirited ladies of lollies make it in this often pretentious, gourmet food-obsessed town. They were far more sincere, enthusiastic and gutsy than any number of hawkers with their professional marketing campaigns and viral assaults.
I have no shame at all (and am my father’s daughter) so naturally offered them my card and my services. They exclaimed loudly and thought that if I could make a living from writing I “must be pretty good.”
And by gum were their marshmallows delicious! I can only dream of what their caramels and rocky roads might taste like. How on earth will we find them again?