Magazine article Marketing

Jif Lemon

Magazine article Marketing

Jif Lemon

Article excerpt

Packaging has been key to the brand's identity, now so established, it is synonymous with Pancake Day.

The generic ingredients mixed together and then thrown into a pan on 'Pancake Tuesday' hardly stand out, but one brand is inextricably linked with the occasion: Jif Lemon.

Developed in the 50s, it was a product of its time, incorporating developments in plastic along with an emerging post-war taste for processed foods.

Conflicting stories exist over who it was that came up with the idea of using lemon-shaped packaging to sell lemon juice.

A young designer named Bill Pugh, who worked for the plastics company Cascelloid, based in Leicester, is said to have blow-moulded a range of novelty plastic shapes, including a lemon.

Stanley Wagner, an ex-RAF pilot working in the frozen-foods industry is also credited with the idea. Based at Shipton, another plastics manufacturer, he had the same design as Pugh.

The plastic lemon was produced by carving out the shape and covering it with fresh lemon peel to make a mould that created a rind-like texture.

The concept and all relevant packaging however, were bought by Reckitt & Coleman; it launched Jif in 1956 with the tagline: 'Real lemon juice in a Jif.'

In the US, Borden Inc had acquired the rights to a similar product, Realemon, which had been in production since the 30s.

In 1975, having achieved success in Europe, Borden entered the UK market, launching lemon juice in a 250ml bottle. By 1980, this accounted for about 25% of the UK market.

Reckitt & Coleman responded by making Jif in 150ml and then 250ml bottles. Borden, in turn, began planning to make Realemon available in similar lemon-shaped packaging. Reckitt & Coleman brought legal proceedings against Borden for trying to 'pass off' Realemon as Jif.

The Jif Lemon case, as it became known, was finally settled in the Court of Appeal in 1990.

The judge ruled that Jif had established a reputation that was based on public recognition of the plastic lemon as Jif and that consumers were likely to believe that the Realemon was a Jif Lemon when they saw it on a supermarket shelf.

Standing out among the standard-shaped jars, bottles and packets on the supermarket shelf, Jif Lemon is so strongly linked to Shrove Tuesday that the day is sometimes referred to as 'Jif Lemon day', thanks to the company's marketing efforts. …

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