Bottles, beliefs and blobs

My review of ‘A Book about Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned’ by Richard Reed and Dan Germain, from Eye magazine.

Shortly after it began trading, Innocent received a letter from the Trading Standards Office enquiring about the two ‘plump nuns’ listed among the ingredients of a smoothie. Innocent replied that it was an allusion to the purity of the contents. The TSO asserted that consumers would be confused and concluded that ‘you must either remove the reference to “plump nuns” on your label or start putting them in your fruit juice’.

The Innocent tone of voice has become such an icon of effective communication that clients – from oil companies to estate agents – beg copywriters like me to dust them with a little ‘Innocent magic’. But Innocent’s roots are its reason for being. The company is driven by deeply held beliefs about business ethics, employees and suppliers, origin of ingredients, equitable interaction with the planet, and developing conversations with their ‘drinkers’.

Supermarkets and chiller cabinets are so overloaded with merchandise that mimicks Innocent, that the strength of the original is in danger of becoming diluted. And there are times when this book risks slipping into parody. A quirky personality that entertains us on the back of a bottle while munching a sandwich is a bit of a marathon over 185 pages.

The book is very good on creative entrepreneurism – they really did throw out all the rules. When Innocent works best, they say, it is like ‘a giant amorphous blob with a permeable skin, with information flowing in and out by osmosis’. This first edition was completed in January 2009, before Coca-Cola acquired a slice of the Innocent pie in April. A second edition, printed in September 2009, brought the story up to date.

Tom

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