In my previous article, Clean Ads Work for Facebook Marketing, I was discussing the exit of Christopher Kimball, founder and face of the brand for America’s Test Kitchen. As I mentioned I am a fan of Christopher Kimball so when I clicked on their Facebook ad about his new venture, The Milk Street Kitchen, I was intrigued.
Later on that day while I was reading my new copy of Cook’s Illustrated, one of his magazines, I noticed a different “Letter from the Editor”. Something began to connect. I looked at the editor in chief on the masthead and it had a different name. What happened to Mr. Kimball? So doing what we all do, I grabbed my IPad and searched for, “What happened to Christopher Kimball” and found out that due to a contract dispute with his partners he decided to leave the company that he helped found. The article stated that he would continue to host the programs America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country through 2016 but it made me wonder how this would affect such a strong brand and its loyal followers when the face we have connected with is no longer there.
I want to share a few thoughts I have as a customer/subscriber/fan that I think will aid this company and others if they are going to address a similar situation.
Losing the Face of the Brand
Looking for Problems that Don’t Exist: As soon as I realized that Mr. Kimball was no longer in charge of the magazine, I looked at a few recent issues to see if the quality had dropped. Notice I was now looking for problems when there may have not been any when I read the magazines the first time. I think companies need to be prepared to address this through presenting information, both written and in video form, on how all content will remain at the same high level customers expect to find with their brand.
Content: As much as the new regime will explain that their content will be the same, the content in many consumer’s eyes is connected to the face of the brand. Especially in this case, seeing as Mr. Kimball was creator, editor and host of the show. How the new leaders transition to a new face or host will be the true test of content being the reason for the show/magazine’s success versus Mr. Kimball’s connection to the audience.
Connection: I connected with Mr. Kimball. I loved his style of educating the audience on techniques but also on things like where a cut of meat is located on a steer, or why adding ingredients at a certain time affected the outcome. He showed you where his team failed in order to save the home cook these problems. He was a cross between cook, scientist, teacher and taskmaster but through it all, I loved the show because of this connection. So I think one of the biggest challenges for Test Kitchen is the next host and their connection to the audience.
New Face of The Brand: I think this new face matters more for the TV show that has over 2 million viewers a week (according to the show’s website). The magazine will succeed on its content and making sure it continues to have a steady hand on the writing. As for the show, they have always had great chefs/cooks like Bridget Lancaster and they have always worked to impress Christopher Kimball. That was the way the show was set up and we as audience cheered them on. I think having Mr. Kimball still being seen on the TV shows throughout 2016 while they work on this choice helps the continuity of the brand.
The decision on how to move forward is not easy. Should they go for a new face to be the host or do you switch the focus and use the chefs/cooks as the host with a guest star each week there to sample? I would recommend involving the audience in this decision as much as they can to help keep the connection to the show/magazine or for your business.
Transition for Both: As a fan of both entities, I am looking forward to the next few months. I have subscribed to The Milk Kitchen’s newsletter (Mr. Kimball’s new venture) and will continue to support Test Kitchen as well. I think the challenges may be different for both sides. What I discussed earlier may affect Test Kitchen more but Mr. Kimball has a few things to make sure of as well. He needs to make sure that his content is great. It may not be easy to quickly replicate the structure and the supporting team that led to his previous success.
At the end of the day, as long as the audience is receiving great value, both sides win. If either side, or both, take their audience for granted, then both sides will lose.
If I can ever be of service, please DM me @glennpasch. If you like the article please share. Thanks