Califork-nia

Our PR Account Director aka ‘our roving reporter’ on a tour in California, informs us about a number of eating out trends that are currently prevalent stateside.

1. Simple menus

Whist the trend in UK pub restaurants and also American food chains such as Denny’s is geared toward densely populated menus, many of the establishments I ventured into focused on a ‘less is more’ approach and I don’t just mean those falling in the Fast Casual bracket – even those with a posh menu too. Hache LA, based in Silver Lake has a minimal menu focusing on burgers as the staple element and a build-your-own ethos. Whilst the ever popular In and Out burger is based on a few simple options but with a premise on fresh fast food plastered all over its serving trays. Often when venturing out to eat, an indecisive food lover like me can take an age to decide and the focus on quality rather than quantity was definitely a plus.

2. Self serve

Everyone here surprisingly can be trusted to clear away their mess after themselves in a restaurant! The customer is not only in control of customising their order but also clearing away after themselves… what a revelation.

3. Free from

Trying to eat in British restaurants when you are gluten free is a nightmare, however in LA it’s a truly different story. Take the Venice Ale House, you can have any order with gluten free bread or you can even order totally vegan meals. Even Starbucks offers more options for those that can’t tolerate dairy. Fancy coconut milk in your mocha frappacino?

4. Smoothies and juices

It seems America is a society of two halves. The junk fiends and the health freaks. However for those of us that like balance, our diets can now be supplemented by a vitamin kick in the form of a smoothie or juice. This has reached the mainstream in the US with even places like McDonalds getting in on the action. Starbucks has also just launched a new range here and you an even add in a helping of protein if you fancy.

5. Ale choice

The choice here well exceeds the UK for obvious reasons but what surprises me more is that even if a place has a relatively small food menu they still have a least 4 good ales to choose from. Plus it’s always in branded glassware, bravo. 6. Local provenance – even the local coffee shops here are boasting about their own in-house concoctions, with Syd’s in Lake Tahoe offering me salsa instead of ketchup with my bagel because it was homemade and ‘way healthier’. While Sierra Nevada Brewery is serving steaks in its tap house using cows they’ve reared and fed on the ruminants of its brews. The feel good factor is really ramping up here with notes on menus about where items are sourced and the business’s social standing in the community eg. Does it donate profits to a local charity?

Pedigree and Hobgoblin win at the BMA

It was a successful night for Vital and Marston’s at the Beer Marketing Awards last night with Pedigree and Hobgoblin both winning an award. Marston’s own Gaynor Green was on hand to collect the award for Best Integrated Campaign for Marston’s Pedigree (along with Jeremy and Sharon). Alice and Sharon collected the award for Best Event/Stunt which went to Hobgoblin for Taste to the Nation. All the great and the good, the new and the old were represented at the event from Budweiser and Carlsberg to Brew Dog and Purity all shortlisted for awards, along with industry bodies.

Head of the Judges was beer writer/blogger Pete Brown and a group of specialists for each discipline. The Integrated category was judged by the great Sir John Hegarty of BBH, whose comments on the Pedigree campaign were: ‘Integrated in every way, considering all customer touchpoints; It was the sheer level of details and combination of layers to this campaign that made it the winner’.

A great night was had by everyone. And praise from an industry legend capped it all.

One of Our Ideas that Changed Advertising (Sort of)

Some years ago, while working on a brief for Barclays student insurance, we came up with one of those daft little idea that made us smile. It made the client smile too but IP issues and its ‘counter culture’ irreverence precluded it from being developed further.

Some years later we dug it out and entered it into the Chip Shop Awards in a category called ‘Work for a Brand You Have but Have no Chance of Running’.

It won.

So we then entered into Fresh and it won another award for ‘Idea that Never Ran’. And then someone from Laurence King spotted it somewhere online and asked if they could include it in the latest of their successful ‘100 Ideas that Changed…’ books about advertising.

Of course we agreed.

Illustrating a section that presents the debate on whether ads developed purely for creative jollies enrich or detract from the ad industry, we’re happy to put our name to witty work either way and it’s a thrill to be featured in such a great book. Well worth the time of anyone interested in some digestible insights into adland, 100 Ideas That Changed Advertising is available here.

The Blues in the Black Country

With the election campaign in full swing, the Conservative battle bus pulled up at the gates of Marston’s Wolverhampton brewery this morning.

As the recent budget’s ‘penny off a pint’ proves, Dave and George clearly recognise the emotive power of being associated with beer – so where better to stage a photo call than the fully stocked yard at the Park Brewery. The Vital team were on hand throughout, ensuring that the visit ran without a hitch from their ringside seat at the media circus before the Prime Minister and Chancellor sat with Chief Exec Ralph Findlay to talk tax and business.

The News Archives

We’re currently in the process of converting our news archives to this site, watch this space for updates. In the meantime you can view all of our previous articles here.