Tate And Lyle Teach an Old Brand-New Tricks

Lyle's Golden Syrup

Absolutely Golden


This week, we’re in the presence of a legend. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is in the Guinness Book Of Records as having the oldest branding and packaging in the world. If you walked into a grocer’s shop in 1885 and came out with a tin of Golden Syrup, it would look basically identical to the one you could buy in Tesco’s this weekend. Pick up a tin of Lyle’s and you’re holding history in your hand.

That’s the brand’s claim to fame. It’s also their greatest problem.

A brand with a lot of history and a well-loved legacy can find itself in a position where its appeal is concentrated among older demographics. That’s not a bad place to be – as we stressed in our Wise Up report, as a whole older people are an extremely valuable target audience. But you do need to make sure younger consumers know about you and don’t see you as purely archaic. In the case of Golden Syrup, that record-breaking packaging is both a powerful distinctive asset and something that immediately communicates that this is an old brand.

So owner Tate & Lyle and their new agency Elvis have a tricky path to walk with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. They need to take the brand out of the world of beef tea and mint humbugs and find a place for it in a modern food cupboard, while staying true to the product itself – a deliciously sugary honey equivalent.

This week’s Ad Of The Week is the result, and it’s a great start. The ad takes a creative route we’ve seen a few times with food and drink commercials – sensory pleasure expressed through whimsy and playful surrealism. In this case, a drop of golden syrup falling onto some bananas on toast conceals a rock guitarist jamming alongside statues of lions (a nod to the brand’s famously odd packaging, with its Bible verse and image of a lion carcass).

It’s a smart way to entertain viewers while still communicating something about the brand and its possible uses. “Absolutely Golden” runs the tagline, positioning the brand as an enjoyable, indulgent add-on to breakfasts and snacks.

Does it work? Yes – the ad gets 4.0 Stars on Test Your Ad, putting it firmly in the Top 10 of jams and spreads ads we’ve tested. Even more gratifyingly, the ad’s weird twists and sense of fun help grab attention and pump up its short-term Spike score to Exceptional levels. Lyle’s Golden Syrup may be a brand out of British history, but it has no intention of acting like one.

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