Tag Archives: Julia Child

Forced Endorsements


Our Foodie Friday Fun this week isn’t directly about food

English: American cook, author, and television...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

at all but about one of the most entertaining people ever to prepare it. That would be Julia Child, about whom I’ve expressed my admiration before. I’m not sure if you’re following what is going on with her estate and the Thermador people but it instructive on a number of levels.
Let me say at the outset that I own a Thermador oven. Two of them, in fact, and I’m quite happy with them, so there’s no axe to grind against the company. That said, they’re behaving badly.  You see, they’ve been using the fact that Julia Child had a Thermador ovens in her home and TV kitchens as the basis for an implied endorsement.  So much so that magazine ads that showed photos of Julia and two of the brand’s ovens with the caption, “An American Icon and Her American Icons.”

Well, you say, sounds like a typical celebrity endorsement.  As we all know the notion is that people who like the celebrity will like the product the celebrity likes too.  There’s only problem.  Julia Child NEVER endorsed products.  Nothing.  She always felt she was a teacher, and anything that wasn’t of the highest quality could undermine her reputation.  The foundation that owns her intellectual property has sued since they were never approached in advance of the use and turned down a license when they were since they won’t license her name or image for endorsements.  Pretty straightforward so far.

Here is what’s interesting.  Thermador is claiming it’s not an endorsement.  As the L.A. Times reported, they:

filed a suit in Boston on Friday asking a federal judge to make a legal declaration that they had the right to use Child’s connection to the brand in its marketing materials. In its complaint, BSH’s lawyers wrote that the company’s use of Child’s photo and name “do not state or imply any endorsement” but “reflect on the long history, significance and influence of Thermador products on American society and culture.”

Right.  It’s a statement of fact.  So if an athlete is photographed drinking a Coke, it’s fine if Coke uses that statement of fact in an ad.  I don’t think so.  More importantly, to those of us who admire Julia, this is having exactly the opposite effect as an endorsement.  You can’t force people to endorse your products, you can’t use their likeness without permission, and you can’t rationalize your way into it being OK.  This is a good lesson on why bad behavior seldom works out in business. I can’t imagine anyone who has ever done anything in marketing wouldn’t have known that this is wrong.

Thermador, I use your products and like them – feel free to use that endorsement.  But stop behaving badly, please.  You’re better than this, or at least your ovens are.


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How To Be A Celebrity Chef

Photograph of chef Jacques Pépin at Aspen Food...

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The end of a long week so a business thought related to food.  Actually, it’s related to the food business, and it comes from Jacques Pepin.  Chef Pepin is one of my culinary heroes, and his TV work, both solo and the series he did with Julia Child, ranks in my mind as some of the best cooking programming ever done.  He was one of the first “celebrity chefs” – after he had put in 30 years in the kitchen.  He kind of built the mold – successful restaurant career, TV, books – that many of the folks you see on The Food Network are trying to follow but he actually paid his dues.

Jacques Pepin is very different from many of them and not just because he was a pioneer.  Want to know why?  It’s a great business point for us all. Continue reading

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It’s Friday, so back to my favorite topic: food! Today is the release of the Julie/Julia movie and I, for one, can’t wait to see it.  Before the Food Network, before the plethora of cooking shows, there was Julia Child in color but first in perfect black and white teaching us how to cook. She was the second Julia in my culinary life.

The first was my friend T’s mom, Julia, in whose kitchen I spent many hours waiting for T to wake up or get dressed. Her teaching, along with the TV Julia, ignited a life-long passion for food and cooking. Taught me about business too! Continue reading

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