William Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name?”
I was recently reminded of this phrase as I sat down to dinner with my family (which fortunately included a few glasses of Pinot Noir). That dinner began much like many others in my home.
“What’s for dinner, mom?” my youngest son asked my wife as he approached the table.
“We’re having turkey loin, mac ‘n’ cheese and eggplant dusted in gluten-free breadcrumbs,” she replied.
“Oh, gross, eggplant!” the young buck responded in horror.
At that moment I asked myself, “Has he ever tasted eggplant?” Of course, if I posed the question to him, he would invariably respond with a resounding “yes!” But the reality was he probably had not tasted eggplant prior (poor parenting).
The entire encounter led me to one of the fundamental tenants of marketing: psychology. In this case, of course, the psychology of a name or brand. I mean, if someone told me they were serving “poop salad” or broiled “earlobe steak,” I might just protest. And the name “eggplant” is perhaps one of the worst monikers ever bestowed upon a fruit or vegetable or pretty much anything for that matter.
A member of the nightshade family originally grown in southern and east Asia, eggplants were named due to their original color – white – resembling eggs hanging from a vine. But they tended to bruise during shipping, and through the magic of genetic science, eggplant varietals were ultimately cultivated that did not scar and came in all types of fun colors, most notably purple.
The point of all this being that if my premise is correct, and the name is, in fact, a deterrent to some consumers eating eggplants – farmers and distributors have a solvable business problem. Indeed, to broaden the prospective eggplant consumer base, young hearts and mouths must come to the table. And this, I would suggest, can only be done by rebranding the eggplant, changing the name so that it’s fun, happy, silly or most important, conjures the notion of super-awesome-deliciousness to the mind of a 14-year-old.
Hence, I take my case to the good people at RJ Ferrari & Sons Farms and DiCarlo Food Service.
According to The Daily Record, along with a vast collection of rippling abdominals and sailor tattoos, some 66 percent of the world’s eggplants are grown in New Jersey. That’s right! Move over Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and nuclear waste – Jersey is eggplant country, baby! And one of the largest growers of eggplants in the Garden State is RJ Ferrari & Son Farms, the products from which are distributed by DiCarlo Food Service.
So Ferrari + DiCarlo – eyes forward, ears open – here’s my proposal:
Let’s plot a new course for the eggplant!
Let’s deliver a strong narrative to consumers beyond vegans, hipster yoga instructors and dietitians who, despite not realizing it’s a GMO product, long ago recognized eggplant is a rich source of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants.
Let’s help a new generation of eaters, consumers, and upright mammals of all walks sweep past their inability to see beyond the label that is the eggplant brand!
Let’s lead a revolution to educate Millennials and digital natives that eggplants are more than just a super sexy emoji!
Damnit people, let’s rebrand the eggplant! I mean, if trousers can be rebranded pants and the Washington Bullets can now be known as the Washington Wizards (worst rebrand ever), then why can’t we do the same for the eggplant?
I’m of the belief that if you are going to assail a pre-existing notion, idea or brand, you must come with constructive alternatives. Hence, I’m offering a few starter concepts to Ferrari Farms and DiCarlo Food Service. They’re not perfect, not even well thought out in any way. These are just conversation starters but perhaps a foundation for a new beginning. Consider:
- Buddha Belly,
- Passion Plant,
- Meat Vine,
- Peace Fruit,
- Bacon Plant,
- Grape Plant,
- Chocolate Fruit,
- Maybe even Purple Pleasure Plant.
Digest, consider, think deeply. Then we’ll talk. You know where to find me.