The Technical Secrets of Conspicuous Consumption?

With the help of Duran Duran

The Brand Historian’s Timeline: 1982

Dig out your legwarmers and jumpsuit, find that Duran Duran CD, it’s time to go back to the decade that gave us yuppies, golden hellos and golden parachutes and actually worshipped conspicuous consumption. Hungary like a wolf? Take a close look at two confectionery hits which not only exemplified the zeitgeist but were also superb examples of engineering ingenuity.

Viennetta, the ice cream log with the frilly extrinsics made its debut in 1982, and soon its last slice became something to fight over at many a teatime. With that Mitteleuropan name that is so easy to misspell, Viennetta is a feast of contrasts: an ice cream dessert with a patisserie gene; or a combination of multi-layered extruded ice cream shaped cleverly into rippling waves with a sprinkling of chocolate, all brilliantly designed by Kevin Hillman and Ian Butcher of Wall’s. Afficionados will recall the delicious change in texture as the ice cream melts and the chocolate crackles in the mouth. My German friends refer to it as knispernlust which I have always felt an appropriately wicked description.

Ferrero Rocher is another technical masterpiece that was launched in 1982. Building on his father’s success with some of the plentiful raw materials available in the Piedmont, Michele Ferrero created individual indulgent mouthfuls he called Rochers (inspired by the shrine at Lourdes), consisting of hazelnut, wafer and chocolate deliciousness, enrobed in gold foil and glammed-up packaging to be welcomed without hesitation at all the smartest parties. It became a global hit and along with Tic Tac, Kinder and Mon Cheri, helped make Michele the richest man in Italy.

In an age of easy line extension, It is interesting to observe that both these cases show the power of genuine product/technical innovation, and they are also an object lesson in how tremendous value can be created by applying technical ingenuity to lower cost materials – such air and compound chocolate in the case of Viennetta, and hazelnut paste in the case of Ferrero Rocher.

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