EP104 – Oppo Brothers, The Brand & Marketing Development

Author Halli Biggs 21 min read time

Hi all and welcome to episode 104 of the Marketing Freaks podcast!

Over the last two episodes, Jon is joined by Harry Thuillier, co-founder of Oppo Brothers, the award-winning British ice cream and healthy snack brand that has taken the market by storm.

If you haven’t yet listened to last week’s episode yet, you need to! (and you can do that by clicking here). It was a truly inspiring conversation where Harry and Jon discussed the Oppo Brothers journey, from concept through to being stocked in some of the UK’s largest supermarkets as well as the difficulties that arose along the way. 

In this week’s episode, they dive into the marketing and brand development that took place when starting out the Oppo Brothers venture.

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With their business model focussing around wholesale and getting large chain supermarkets to stock their products in order for Oppo Brothers to succeed, Harry and Charlie were aware that they needed to create a distinctive product that was going to add value to those stores.

Brand strategy is essential when it comes to marketing because it lays the foundation for how a business wants to be perceived by its customers. The Oppo Brothers duo knew that with so many competitors in the market, they needed to find a way to not only create consistency and build trust with their customers but also make it easier for consumers to recognise and remember their brand.

Without a clear brand and marketing strategy, Harry and Charlie knew that it could not only hinder their growth but success. 

Make sure to take a listen to last weeks and this weeks inspiring episodes on all things Oppo Brothers! 




Jon (00:10):

Hello everybody and welcome back to the Marketing Freaks podcast. This week we have part two of my interview with Harry, co-founder of Oppo Brothers Ice Cream. So in part one, we talked about the story, how they founded, how they started getting going as a business. In this week’s episode, we’re talking a bit more about the marketing and also their brand development. So really hope you find this one helpful and useful. If you do, please come and subscribe in all the usual podcast places and let’s get started with the episode.


Fantastic. Well look, Harry, welcome back. Thank you. Episode two, part two. Yeah. Um, if you are listening to this before you’ve listened to part one, definitely go and listen to part one. Cause we talked about kind of the story and how the brand founded and it’s genuinely, genuinely very interesting. Um, so we’re gonna talk a little bit about the marketing aspect of it. And uh, obviously, so you are, just to recap a little bit, your business model, you’ve, you’ve, you did direct to consumer for a bit, didn’t you? But the main business model is wholesale into supermarkets. It’s getting into supermarkets, yeah. Yeah. That’s the best. That’s the scale. Yeah. So how does, how does marketing from a high level picture, how does marketing fit into that model? Because it’s not a classic, um, e-comm No. Or like direct response model at all, is it?


Like, so how do you view it? I really wish it was, cuz that’s, that’s my experience really is, um, it’s, is sort of performance marketing and, and you know, you put a little bit of money in the top of the funnel. Um, I know funnel’s a bit old hat these days, but Yeah. And then, and then it, it’s all outs. Spits a conversion outs spits a a, a sale, which is amazing. And it’s all scientific and logical and you don’t have people going, oh, you know, I know that half of my marketing spend was wasted, but I dunno which half, you know, that all boring. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. That that’d be great. Um, but unfortunately that’s, that’s not a reality of, of selling in supermarkets, um, because you can’t attribute any spend to any, any conversion and therefore a lot of it is based on Yeah.


As much data as you can get. Yeah. Um, uh, but ultimately I subscribe to, dunno about you guys, but the sort of more Barron sharp way of looking at things, which is, you know, don’t, don’t spend too much time doing segmentation and targeting. Just, just, just create a product which is distinct. You can, you know, you can see it, it does add value and then just get it as many places as you can. Yeah. Don’t be too precious about it. Yeah. Um, and our, our our marketing approach early, early days was doing lots of events and, and sampling know good food shows and Yeah. Doing as much PR as we could, anything we, you know, any chance of, of getting press that, that was Yep. That was great. Um, and we did that for too long, the, the events side anyway. And it’s, it’s so hard to get a good return on investment and, you know, you might speak to at best a thousand people.


Right? Yeah. And, and it, and it’s just, there’s not the scale you need to support. Yeah. A Tesco and an Asda team. So by events do you mean turning up a what? Like what sort of events were you doing? Food, food shows basically. Right. Okay. Yep. Yeah. Like, um, you know, sort of great taste. Okay. Yes. Yeah. Sort of taste of London and, and good good food and all those sort of Yeah. They, they, they’re, they’re great and it depends what kind of brand you have, but, um, the stage that we were, we got to, it wasn’t gonna support, there wasn’t gonna be enough volume of Yeah. People seeing it. Cause you said, um, you said in the last part that you seemed pretty clear from day one that this wasn’t going to be a make small batches in the kitchen. Yeah. Get into some, you know, independent Yeah.


Stores. And obviously there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that model at all. But No, you were very clear from day one that okay, if we’re gonna do this, we wanna do it on a much bigger scale than we wanna scale. Yeah. So guessing those, those types of events probably more in line with the other. Yeah. And that’s what I didn’t, didn’t quite get. Um, I, and I, I would say that, you know, if for people like looking for jobs with, uh, with smaller businesses, I think it is definitely more, I don’t wanna say risky, cuz there’s, there’s rewards in there as well. You probably get a bit more autonomy, but working with first time founders can be, it can be tougher cause they’re figuring out as they go as well. Yeah. And we definitely were. Yeah. Uh, and um, the business is very different than it was, you know, six, seven years ago.


Yeah. Um, because we’ve, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve wasted a lot of time in the early days. Yeah. Um, and so on, on the marketing side, just keep it simple and, you know, whether it’s brands, um, or you know, or, or how we’re communicating it. Um, we, we spend most of our money now on, on what we call, you know, shopper marketing. Um Okay. So just, just getting it in store, um, promotions, you know, it’s like, oh, it’s terrible. It’s like marketing crack, isn’t it, when you do discounts, but Yeah. And I, I’d I’d love to be in a category which didn’t have to discount, but ultimately it does drive sales, it does drive penetration. Looking at looking at the data and, and, and just doing things which are close to stores and then, you know, adding PR and, and that sort of thing over the top.


And it’s, and social, you know, we’ve done quite a lot with, with influencers and Yeah. Obviously influencers are, are, is definitely a changing game. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, we’re finding it’s going more to sort of micro versus and Yeah. And, um, and, and which is great because it’s often a bit more genuine. Uh, I, so and they actually like the products then, so Yeah. I think so. And has that been, um, so is all of your marketing done in house? Like do you have, um, like the marketing team look like at Yeah, I mean at one stage I, I had a team of six people doing marketing. Right. Uh, at, you know, I have a total team of 15 because my background’s marketing. I was like, we use marketing. Yeah. <laugh>, <laugh>, uh, and that now, um, we’ve got one, um, guy, Matt, who is very experienced and, and then, um, Hannah who’s, so Matt’s is our head of marketing.


Okay. Basically marketing director. And then Hannah, um, is, uh, on sort of social email and a whole load of other things as well. Um, and she’s, um, she’s got less years under her belt, but is, you know, really, really deliberate. Um, I’m just thinking she’s probably gonna list to this, so I better be really nice, be nice <laugh>. Um, so it’s just, it’s a marketing of two if, if you’re not counting me. Yep. Um, and fantastic. But actually there’s a lot of communication overhead Yeah. With a bigger team. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and it, you know, it enables us to make decisions quicker Yeah. And especially when we don’t have a huge marketing budget. Yeah. Um, you need to be really sort of very, uh, tailored. Yes, exactly. Yeah. I think efficiency is a really big thing and it’s, um, what I, what I like is that Okay.


Um, but there’s a, there’s almost a conflict, but I totally get why I totally get what you’re saying. There’s almost a conflict be between the, what it’s be as efficient and as, um, focused as we possibly can be, but equally when we look at an attribution point of view that’s not be too precious mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I think when you’ve got a small, uh, marketing budget, it’s, I think people get, um, al almost like freeze because they dunno what to look at and then they end up don’t, you know, not doing anything. Yeah. So that point about being overly precious is really important, but it does take Yeah. It’s a bit bit brave to kind of, when you’ve got a relatively small marketing budget to take that attitude. It is. And, and, um, and your point on attribution, I think it, it can be quite dangerous if, if you’ve got any level of attribution, then you end up just piling everything to what, you know, what you’re seeing is converting there and Yeah.


Yeah. You know, the typical thing there is, oh, only, um, the last click works or Yeah. That sort of thing. And any econ actually, no. Uh, you cut off the whole flow in. Yeah. Yeah. And it, and it’s still hard to, to measure that and, but luckily, you know, you can almost get blinded by a little bit of data. Luckily we’ve got, you know, pretty much none. Um, so, um, <laugh>, uh, on any, on the attribution side anyway, so, um, yeah. Amazing. And the, uh, but you, I guess as a, as a co-founder and having gone through the whole journey, you’ll know if something’s, you’ll just know if something, if something’s working and that’s a really weird thing to say, but if you go out and do, I dunno, an above the line campaign or a print campaign or you start investing a lot more in social, you’ll have a sense of the end result won’t you?


Or the sense of momentum or like the softer side of mm-hmm. <affirmative>, oh, there’s more people getting in touch or the Yeah. Things that you might not necessarily attribute directly Yeah. As a performance outcome, but you can just sense a build of momentum. Yeah, yeah. You do. And, and, and obviously weather comes into it and whether you’re promoting at the same time and all the other bits, but you do get, you do get a sense of it and um, and you, you’ve gotta have a fair bit of trust but uh, uh, a gut feel as well. Yeah. The gut is a powerful tool. I think it is. It’s actually a million different data sources combining into a feeling <laugh>. Yeah. Love that. Um, so on the branding side, um, super strong, like you look at the website. Yeah. Okay, great. This is amazing. How did, we talked a little bit about that initial bit of branding, but how has that developed over time?


Um, have there been any, uh, like are you happy with where it’s at now or is there still a long way to go? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, have there been any points in that process of developing the brand that you really didn’t like mm-hmm. <affirmative> and gone, you look back and you cringe a bit or Yeah. Like how has that process been? Because it, to me, outside the bubble looks brilliant. Okay. Cheers. Um, <laugh> Yeah. I saw, I saw coming up on my, you know, on, on sort of mentions that you see online Yes. Of your brand and someone a student had done like opo like through the, you know, the last 10 years Oh really? And how like different it, you know, it looks, and I showed the team the other day, um, and um, it does look different and, uh, I mean, it’s really easy to go, it’s not working, let’s change the brand and then you’re losing all the equity you developed.


And if it’s a distinct brand, it doesn’t really matter. Like it’s just, just stay with it. Yep. Um, but you know, at one point we were changing every year because we just didn’t think there, it just wasn’t quite, quite right and, and, and it, it, it wasn’t right. So it was the right decision to change it. Yep. And, but that was a very painful process. Now, there haven’t been many moments where I’ve actually been in, in tears, um, with, with, with, you know, this this business. Yeah. Because cuz most of the time it’s just like, oh, that’s really crap <laugh>, or That’s amazing. Uh, you’re not like crying. But I remember there was a time where I was like, I did have a little cry because I thought what we created was great and I sort of showed it to our investors or our chairman or something and they were like, no, no, back to the drawing board.


And, and, and I was just like, oh man. Um, so, so the, so the first iteration was it, as I, I sort of said in the last episode we had this duality of like hippos and hummingbirds and whale and mermaids and I can’t remember what the other one, elephant and a feather. Okay. Yeah. Um, and um, and the, the each flavor had a different heavy thing and a different light thing on it and, and a sort of duality Yeah. And great as an advertising campaign, sort of billboard from more established brand for us, people didn’t know what it was. And so very quickly after launching we then we then we then changed it and went to another agency. Did quite a lot with, you know, food brands a bit like us. Yep. And they’re, they’re quite, they’re quite famous, um, in a, as a, as a small just branding agency.


Um, but we really just couldn’t get to a place that that worked with them at all. And that was, that was really painful as well. Cause we had quite an opinion about it and we had a fair bit of, you know, our own experience and knowing what’s gonna work or, or not. Is that the gut kicking in again and going cuz um, I imagine a little bit, a little bit of sort of showing it to people as well and Yeah. Really wanting it to work. Cuz we, you know, I think that first thing cost us 30 or 40 grand, so I was like, one of these needs to work because I don’t wanna go to the start again. Yeah, yeah. Um, you know, it’s a bit like interviewing candidates and you’re not, you’re not getting anyone through and you really want this candidate to be great for the role.


Yeah. It takes quite a lot to go. No, it’s not right. Yeah. Particularly I guess if you’ve gone with, um, uh, you’ve, you’ve got brought a team in that this is what they’re great at doing. Yeah. And everything, everything on paper and everything there suggests that this is gonna be brilliant. Yeah. And, and all the egos there as well with Yeah. On, on, you know, creative directors. Um, and it’s, you’ve got so careful what you, uh, comment what you say. Yeah. <laugh>. Uh, so that was, that was pretty tough. So that didn’t work. And then I can’t remember what we did after that. I think we, I think we went to another, a much, much smaller one. Cause we’d sort of run out of money and we ended up working with a freelancer sort of person that, that that came up with something that was, that did work for us.


Yep. And it was a lot more of like us kind of going a bit left a bit. Right. Yeah. You know, uh, but it, it, it worked. Yeah. And then when we’d moved on that we launched that and, and then when we’d moved on a little bit from there, we then went with another agency who approached us and they came up with this Venn diagram thing. Okay. So you’ve got the two circles and then, uh, and then Oppos in the middle of it. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So the, the idea is like it’s bringing in two things healthy. Yeah. It’s really soft. No. Yeah. Um, it’s sort of bringing in health and indulgence, but not in a, it’s very hard to do that in a, a sort of a literal way, but that’s just a sort of subtle way of owning something. It’s really cool that it’s, it’s a lockup that, that we felt worked and Yeah.


Yeah. We softened up the, you know, the logo itself and we put established 2014 and put brothers in there, made it a bit more personal. Yeah. And then, and then since then it’s been more just evolution and just tweaking things. Yeah. Yeah. And, and now we actually work with a, um, basically an in-house designer that does that, does all of it because Okay. Um, he’s, he’s, I’d say more of an art worker than a designer. Um, but he’s, he’s very good. And any new flavor we’re coming out with, we’ve, and we’ve got more experienced people on the team now that, that are gonna have a bit more Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of an understanding about what’s gonna work and Yeah. So from now, whatever the brand is, we’re not mucking about with it now. Yeah. It’s like get it right for different flavors and different product formats, but it’s so important, especially as a small brand where you don’t have a big marketing budget to, to move things around.


The famous example is Coke and Pepsi, you know? Yeah. You see Pepsi over the years. Yeah. They’ve had quite a few changes. They have. Yeah. Coke, they haven’t changed. It’s the same, isn’t it? Yeah. They’ve made it bigger, if anything. Yeah. That’s all they’ve done. Yeah. <laugh>. But do you think that, uh, do you think there’s a character trait with people who are uh, I guess like naturally more inclined to run a successful business and the character trait being no, that’s not good enough. Gotta keep trying, gotta keep, let’s get something else to iterate again compared to mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Oh yeah. That’ll do. Does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah. Although I, I I think that’s good, but it does take, it does take a couple of people to help with that. Cause if you’ve got that one person that’s, you know, high expectations and a bit brutal mm-hmm.


<affirmative>, Steve Jobs, I guess, um, you need, you need the other person that’s gonna go No, that does work. And you know, you’re giving ’em a hard time there and actually done is better than perfect. Done really writing people back in a bit. Yeah. Or was it perfect? Is the enemy have done? Yes. And, and uh, just get it out. Get it out and get, and iterate it in the market. And it can’t just do it all in gut feel, you know? Yeah. It’s good to get some feedback and progress. So you too. You and your brother, who’s the lunatic? I’m with, uh, Charlie’s the lunatic. He’s, you know, he’s, he’s unreasonable. Um, and actually he’s not in the business full time anymore. Okay. He’s on the board. Um, and um, you know, we’ve got the same shareholding. Um, but he’s, he’s doing some other projects and he’s much more the startup guy.


Okay. Whereas I’m more of the, I dunno if you are aware, you know, bin the sort of team roles. Okay. Yeah. I’m a little bit more of a completer finisher coordinator. Oh yeah. Yeah. I, I’m, I’m the sort of person that will steer from steer from the back Yep. And let, you know, let give people autonomy and not be too Yeah, yeah, yeah. And Charlie will too, but he’s much more like the vision and like, this isn’t right. Well that’s right. And we really need to do this product and stuff. Yeah. I think that’s really, and he still works with us, but I’m, I’m the latter. I’m, I’m a bit more Yeah. I guess easy game. That’s a very interesting observation on two, the two character, the two characters playing together. Yeah. I think is really interesting. And also to be able to do it as, um, get that between two brothers and, um, well I assume you still talk to each other and you don’t hate each other.


Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s quite a, that’s, that’s, um, unusual. Yeah. Prob it, it, it probably is a bit unusual actually. Um, I, I would definitely counsel anyone starting a business to have a co-founder or Okay. A a you know, at least two people and probably not more than three. Yeah. I’m thinking cuz then you start to, to get too much divergence. Yep. Um, so really respect the people that do it just themselves. Yeah. That’s quite a lonely place to be. Yeah. I guess it’s, it’s all just different, isn’t it? But I think if you is having the right partner and the right person and the right complimentary, um, skill or, you know, outlooks I think is like probably the massive thing. Cause it can go wrong badly as well, can’t it with business partners so it can, yeah. And, uh, yeah, so I think, I think it is really interesting and amazing.


So, um, look, we’ve spoken for agents through loads of stuff and I genuinely appreciate the time, so thank you like so much for coming in. Pleasure. And I hope everyone, I didn’t realize you guys were so local and, um, I think we were speaking about doing a podcast and it was like, yeah, you know, should I come to London or come to you or something, or, and then I looked up your address and you, you’re like, 10 minutes from me, I could cycle here. Perfect. So brilliant. Well you’re welcome back any, anytime. Yeah. And thank you for, um, thank you for bringing some ice cream in. Absolutely. Pleasure. Very kind. Uh, yeah. Um, thanks for, thanks for buying it as well. Thanks for was trying it the other day. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s, um, yeah, absolutely love it. Uh, highly recommend it to anyone who’s listening. Um, thanks for everyone who has listened and we’ll see you next time. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed that episode, please do come and subscribe. Join us for future episodes where we talk about the ins and outs of running paid media and driving improved conversions of revenue for your business. See you next time.