How to describe the buzz around Julia Child… a resurgence?  A resurrection?  Not trying to be clever with the “r words” but those are the questions I asked myself when contemplating an attempt to capture the marketing story around the Julia phenomenon.

I landed on renaissance because long before The Food network and media-moguls like Martha Stewart, there was Julia Child. 

A cooking legend for over 40 years, Julia personified the enjoyment of cooking and eating, forever changing the way we think about food.

Fast-forward and the brand called Julia Child has “renaissanced” (not really a word but it is now)… from pioneering trail-blazer to mainstream fuelled the 2009 hit Julie & Julia.  Depicting true events in the life of Chef Julia Child in the early years in her culinary career, the movie contrasts her life with Julie Powell, the New York blogger who cooked her way through all 524 recipes from Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.

Sending box office, book and spin-off media sales through the roof, Julia Child is a fun case study in the drivers that make any brand “cool”:

  1. originality
  2. uniqueness
  3. timelessness
  4. innovation

Originality/Uniqueness

  • Delightfully candid with self descriptors like “enthusiastic carnivore”, she was as refreshing as she was adorable.  (Definitely an original.)
  • And as the proud new owner of a box set of DVD’s capturing 36 episodes of Julia’s cooking show The French Chef, I can add that I had forgotten what a culinary comedian she was!  You can’t help but crack up watching her truss a goose and cry out “You just whack it off!” as she raises then slams a large knife down on a wing joint.  Then you think you’re watching an old Saturday Night Live episode when she lines up a long row of chickens on the counter to explain the difference between a roaster, fryer and every bird in between… they look like they’re going to break into a head-less song and dance.
  • And don’t even get me started on the whimsical, nasal lilt in her voice when she passionately and breathlessly exclaims things like, “And NOW it’s time to add the RED wyyyyyyyn”.  (You just gotta love her.)

Timelessness/Innovation

First published almost 50 years ago, Mastering the Art of French Cooking demystified the daunting, classic cuisine with easy-to-follow tips and techniques in plain English.  From bouillabaisse to her famous Boeuf Bourguignon, this French cooking bible/cookbook continues to show beginners and seasoned chefs the way.

You don’t have to be a foodie to be drawn into the joie de vivre around the Julia Child story.  It’s fantastically fun and charming… add that she lived 92, animated years savouring French food, butter and more butter?  Bon appétit!

HERE’S THE (STANDING O) STICKING POINT:

While Hollywood certainly paid homage to the culinary icon and breathed new life into the enduring Julia Child legacy, the fact that she never allowed her name to promote a commercial product makes it even more of a marketing masterpiece in personal branding.

Developing a personal brand is an imperative component of today’s on and offline world.  What’s your story?