The Jamie Oliver Theory
There are several people who I admire in this world. And it is fair to say that they all come from the arts and entertainment industry . . . except one. And person is Jamie Oliver!
I think he is an absolute genius and there is something about his cooking shows that make it impossible to turn the station. Even though I have very little interest in cooking, he is just so engaging. But it isn’t just this mystical X factor that he embodies, there is something else which makes his enthusiasm so infectious.
And that is marketing.
Not marketing in the sense of advertisements and promos, but rather an understanding of his audience. Where all the other celebrity chefs imply that you are an inferior cook if you don’t make your own pasta, bake your own bread or decapitate your own chickens, Jamie actively encourages viewers to do the opposite.
Underlying a large number of his television series (not counting the school meals or obesity ones) is an understanding that the average audience member doesn’t have all day to cultivate their vegetables in their own garden and head out to the non-existent chicken shed with an axe every night for dinner. Rather, he encourages the audience just to use bottled tomato sauce, snap frozen veggies and even frozen fish, all while promoting healthy meals.
Because, deep down, that is what we all really want, isn’t it? Healthy food that tastes good and can be made with very little effort. Unless of course it is one of those nights where you can’t stop thinking about take away fish and chips.
Recently we have had the 30 minute meals series: Healthy, nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals that can all be finished within half an hour. But on recognising that while it was a good series, the consumer didn’t even want to spend that long in the kitchen, what did he do? He brought out 15 minute meals!
They tick all the boxes of the audience member because at the foundation of the show’s production is the question: What does the consumer want?
Unfortunately, within the art and culture world, this is often seen as pandering. Or as demeaning the art form. Or simply as a performance deserving of bad reviews no matter what the audience thinks of the show.
But is it really? Haven’t we moved on from targeting arts to the upper elite in society? A musical or a play should surely aim to leave its audience with a lasting message. And in order to achieve this goal the show needs to be enjoyable and memorable (in a good way), not overly experimental or different for the sake of being different.
So my point. In order to be successful in conveying a meaningful message to your audience, first you need to understand what they want and how you can deliver it to them. And that way your show will appeal to them!
I’m not sure that anyone can argue with the mega-force that is Mr. Jamie Oliver!
Plus, who knows his success may inspire a musical in the future. I think he is already working on some songs: