The Rubber Duck Response

Mad Men is a fantastic show. Centring on life inside a 1960’s ad house, Mad Men is thought to be an extreme version of the agency world… By those that haven’t worked in it. And is entirely relatable to those that have. Cycling through creative pitch processes, focus groups, sparks of inspiration and the struggle to get ahead if born with breasts, Mad Men is an institution for many within this bubble, due largely in part to its charismatic lead, Don Draper, and the lessons he imparts throughout the show’s 7 season run.

“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation,” for example.

On Friday night, I met a good friend for dinner. Walking into Grub MCR, I was instantly impressed by the Shoreditch meets Brick Lane vibe, the street food, and the hanging art installation depicting business people with umbrellas. We ate parmos and chips, drank wine and cider, and generally just had a great time. On our way out, I noticed a rubber duck in one of the puddles. I pointed it out to my friend, who told me there was a story behind it, a story of a brand changing the conversation – one that Don Draper himself would most likely approve of.

The story goes like this:

Grub MCR opened as an independent street food fair in Manchester’s historic former train station, Mayfield. With the intention of ‘bringing together a unique blend of amazing food, fantastic craft ales, cracking music and as much fun as possible,’ the fair aims to ‘reduce the barriers between punters and the producers of their food’ and, as such, has nothing but good intentions. One day this year, a famous-in-Manchester food critic came along to see what the fuss was about, and this is what he had to say:

“Did you know people will stand in a puddle and pay £8 for a cheese and bean toastie if you serve it from a shipping container round the back of an independent railway depot? As long as you call it independent they don’t give a sh*t”

Cutting words. And largely untrue, too, since Grub MCR don’t serve £8 toasties, and they do have covered seating.

Deciding not to take the criticism lying down, Grub tweeted the excerpt, letting their followers know that they’d been referred to as ‘morons.’ Unsurprisingly, their fan base rallied around them, and the review became something of an in-joke (it now appears to have been taken down… ) resulting in the decision to make a feature of the aforementioned puddles. And what spends time in puddles?

Ducks. 

Now, every time it rains, a rubber duck will appear in a puddle at Grub. And the harder it rains, the more will appear. Going so far as to fill the puddles completely, if the rumours are anything to go by. The perfect response to a false claim of customers forced to stand in the rain. And the perfect ode to wet and windy Manchester.

As I (and Don) said, if you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. And become a local legend while you’re at it, in this case, because who doesn’t love a plastic animal in an unusual locale? All I have left to say is this… Get in the puddle, Shaun. Get in the puddle.

GRUB MCR rubber ducks. Manchester Confidential review. Marketing Blog Manchester

 

{Header photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash}