If you’ve been wondering how the widely-distributed Newman’s Own food brand would fare after the death of Paul Newman in 2008, here’s an update – it’s doing fine.
Founded in 1982 by Newman and a partner, the company eventually produced products ranging from salad dressing to lemonade. Still privately held, its sales are estimated to be running at better than $100 million a year, with no drop off since Mr. Newman’s demise.
Since Mr. Newman was a screen actor – a celebrity rather than a food icon like Colonel Sanders or Wolfgang Puck – many marketing professionals expected his brand to wane once he was permanently off the public radar.
But a combination of early dedication to healthful ingredients and Mr. Newman’s promise to “donate every cent of my share of after-tax profits to charity” has created an enviable level of consumer loyalty to the brand.
It’s a clear example of the fact that in this century brand behavior influences consumers more than claims. Newman’s behaviors (healthful ingredients, charitable giving) add a positive patina to the consumers’ ideas about what a “brand” is.