Mass Observation Project: Changing names and fortunes

by Helen Hooker May. 02, 2011 4305 views

In years gone by many manufacturers used different brand names for the same product in different parts of the world. However, with the advent of globalisation in recent years, many companies have taken to rationalising their brand names so they are the same worldwide. This has meant the loss of many familiar and often fondly remembered names ?? in this country alone Marathon chocolate bars became Snickers, Jif cleaning products became Cif and the insurance company Norwich Union became Aviva. However, this globalisation has occasionally backfired. In 1998, after 28 years, Kelloggs changed the name of their chocolate children??s cereal from Coco Pops to Choco Krispies only to see their market share decline. In 1999, after a public vote, they reverted to the old name and saw sales rise by 20% over the course of a year ?? perhaps the customer always does know best!

One brand I clearly remember from my childhood is Opal Fruits sweets, whose name was changed in 1998 to Starburst to match the rest of the world. At the Goodwood Racing Revival in September last year they built a temporary branch of Tescos supermarket and stocked it with groceries which were available at the time the circuit was open for racing, between 1948 and 1966. Many of the products on the shelves were authentic looking but empty boxes. However, they did have real Opal Fruits for sale in special period wrappers so I bought a couple of packs. We still have one pack left so I thought I??d compare the old and new versions for the MOP today. I found that while the wrapper had changed significantly the flavours are pretty much the same today as fifty years ago. However, in buying the current version I also discovered that there??s a new kid on the Starburst/Opal Fruits block ?? Starburst Smoothies. These contain yoghurt as well as fruit juice and I can confirm they??re very tasty. Well, having bought them I had to do some quality control testing to make sure they were up to standard!

Many thanks to Jon []for suggesting and coordinating this Mass Observation Project. It is in response to the project of the same name which took place in the United Kingdom in the 1930s and 40s to record everyday life. On the first Monday of each month Photoblog members will post a photo on a particular theme depicting life in their own country. A list of all of this month??s MOP photos can be found here [].

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There are 14 comments , add yours!
Andrea 9 years, 5 months ago

Great shot!

9 years, 5 months ago Edited
Eiram Marie 9 years, 5 months ago

very interesting take on the theme!

9 years, 5 months ago Edited
Moira 9 years, 5 months ago


9 years, 5 months ago Edited
Anna-Marya Tompa 9 years, 6 months ago

yes, a good post; some blueberry juice (also a new kid on the block) I had recently tasted absolutely like one of the Spangles sweets

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Tom Thompson 9 years, 6 months ago

Nice captures

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 9 years, 6 months ago

I'd eat either one. Good one for the MOP.

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Felecia Eby 9 years, 6 months ago

Mmmmm. Yummy, colorful and great for the MOP!

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Diane Davis 9 years, 6 months ago

Sometimes change isn't for the best. Nice for mops

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Roger 9 years, 6 months ago

great idea for the MOP

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 9 years, 6 months ago

That's a great post. I agree with Busy Bee, they'll always be Opal Fruits to me. The brand that sticks out as not doing this is Walkers crisps, which seems to be branded as Lays everywhere else, but has held out as Walkers here (a pity they can't be so resolutely British when it comes to paying their taxes).

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Marsha 9 years, 6 months ago

Hmm...very interesting!! So nice you have the old and new so we can compare! Wonderful shot and commentary for MOP, Helen!

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Lynda 9 years, 6 months ago

Great idea for the MO.

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Josy 9 years, 6 months ago

Bravo for this photo and this comment!! And good quality control testing, greedy Helen :)

9 years, 6 months ago Edited
Gillian 9 years, 6 months ago

Starburst will always be Opal Fruits to our generation and Snickers bars will always be Marathon! (and Smarties should always be in round tubes!) Great idea for the project, and great to find an old packet of Opal Fruits.

9 years, 6 months ago Edited