Delia is flavour of the month again at Waitrose?


Delia Smith

When Delia Smith and Waitrose mutually parted company in January this year, the most famous faces associated with the supermarket became Heston Blumenthal (who had originally signed alongside Delia in 2010) and new Waitrose magazine columnist Pippa Middleton (who caused something of a stir).

Now it appears that Delia Smith is returning to the fold. But why, and do celebrity chefs really make a difference to a supermarket like Waitrose?

The split

When Waitrose announced that Delia would no longer be one of the two faces of the supermarket, there was an outcry. Waitrose explained that it was because of her other commitments, but critics were outraged at the departure of the nation's favourite cook.

There were those who argued that Delia is enormously successful, so can afford to retire at the age of 71. However, there were few who doubted that the national treasure had more of her career ahead of her.

Speculation was rife: would she start a new show, or release a new book? Would she focus on her football interests? Instead, she launched her cookery school (alongside a new line of bakeware), and it's the cookery school which has brought her back to Waitrose.


Waitrose Marketing Director, Rupert Thomas, announced: "We have a long and successful history of working with Delia and we're thrilled to be joining forces again."

The supermarket announced that her school, which was launched on her own website earlier this year, would be launching on Waitrose TV. Her video lessons and techniques sit alongside 150 of her recipes - and other content from Waitrose chefs and food experts - including Heston Blumenthal.

It will link into other content too. So, for example, if you are in the middle of a recipe and don't know how to do something like separate an egg, you can click on a link and Delia will show you how.

Delia said: "If you are from nine to 109 you will be able to learn anything from boiling an egg to baking a cake - I don't think you can learn in a better way."

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Celebrity chefs

It's a move which has pleased many shoppers - and those who were sad to see Delia go are bound to be satisfied with her return to the supermarket. However, it begs the question of why we need celebrity chefs to be associated with supermarkets at all.

Perhaps the most famous tie-in was Jamie Oliver and his relationship with Sainsbury's, which ran from 2000-2011. You can understand why it works for the chefs because he was estimated to have earned more than £10 million from his association with the company.

It works for the supermarkets too. Oliver was credited with a spike in the sale of nutmeg after he suggested putting it in spaghetti bolognese in a promotion for the firm. Sainsbury's sold nine tonnes of nutmeg - which would usually take two years to achieve. Likewise Oliver's 'feed your family for a fiver' campaign led to a 200% increase in sales of the products that were featured.

Since the 1990s the supermarkets have been unafraid to use the power of celebrity. A series of Sainsbury's adverts showed celebrities ranging from Felicity Kendal to Denis Healy cooking their favourite recipes using Sainsbury's products. More recently Morrisons has drafted in everyone from Gaby Logan to Denise Van Outen and Ant and Dec.

The evolution of chefs into celebrities have made them a natural choice to add to the list of famous faces behind the brands. They bring the additional value of what is known as 'peer endorsement'. A study by marketing firm Weber Shandwick found that people seeing experts and those who they respect using something has a far bigger impact than an advert - so why not combine the two and have a celebrity chef using the supermarket's products in an advert? It's no different to a sportsman or woman being paid to wear a specific brand.

But what do you think? Are you swayed by celebrity chef tie-ins? Let us know in the comments.

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