«‘Genuine Jersey’: Branding and Authenticity in a Small Island Culture Henry Johnson University of Otago New Zealand henry.johnson ...»
an endorsement of the goods’ own brand or trade mark, • awarded only to those goods which fulfil both the spirit and the word of the Genuine • Jersey Charter, available in various regulated colours to achieve compatibility with goods, • used only in accordance with strict guidelines which are subject to regular review • (Genuine Jersey, Charter: 2).
Genuine Jersey might be seen to justify its existence by establishing itself against inauthentic brands being sold on Jersey that give the outward impression that they are a product of local traders, but in reality have been produced in part or entirely outside the island. One example of this that was offered to me during research was that of Jersey fudge being sold at Jersey Airport, a context ripe with touristic merchandise and a place where the visitor is able to purchase a lasting memento of the island. One particular brand gave the outward appearance of representing the island and was labeled “Jersey Fudge”, yet it was produced in China (Garton, 2011). Another brand, however, Sue’s Fudge, offers the consumer “real Jersey fudge” and is recognized by Genuine Jersey.
Authenticity (i.e. ‘genuineness’) for Genuine Jersey is about speaking what it perceives as the truth about local produce and products; Genuine Jersey makes a statement about the island and for its members’ goods. In this context, “genuine” stands for Jersey, its provenance, and the brand has the infrastructure and governmental and establishment links to ensure that it makes an impact on the island for local businesses. Here, a sense of nationalism and localism (as well as island identity) is embodied in the Genuine Jersey logo, where “authenticity... is constructed by cultural representation and media techniques, which makes it an inter-subjective discourse but therefore no illusion” (Fornäs, 1995: 219). It is in this context that “image makers and the media assume a more powerful role in the shaping of political identities” (Harvey, 1990: 289). By grouping different goods under one umbrella brand, or rather allowing different businesses to use its logo after payment to become members of the organization, Genuine Jersey is constructing a sense of “object-related authenticity”, the “cognitive experience of the authenticity” (Ivanovic, 2008: 322). While “authenticity is a socially constructed concept” (Ivanovic, 2008: 323), the branding process would aim to achieve a higher level of desire for the goods being branded (Wang, 1999). Ironically, of course, such staged authenticity would actually be “damned to inauthenticity” (Cohen, 1988: 373;
MacCannell, 1999). Furthermore, the Genuine Jersey brand groups a number of disparate goods under one label, which allows some goods to attain the status of authentic and to be 9 Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands, introduced a “Guernsey Grown” label in 2008 for local agricultural produce of members of the Guernsey Growers’ Association (de Woolfson, 2008).
associated with produce and products that have a longer recognized history on the island, such as the Jersey Royal Potato, cow or tomato (Baldacchino, 2005: 29-31).
To make the point even stronger, in its advertising campaigns Genuine Jersey asks the consumer to “Look for the logo before you buy” (Advertising flyer), and “Look for the Mark before you buy” (Advertising flyer). The same flyer offers six reasons why the consumer
should buy local Genuine Jersey produce, which are:
The language of authenticity in the term “genuine” offers an implied opposite: that which is not genuine. This use of implied linguistic “othering” does much to reinforce Genuine Jersey goods as ones that are truly representative of Jersey and ones that locals and visitors should purchase, whether to support local businesses or as a marker of remembrance.10 The inclusion of the name “Jersey” in the Genuine Jersey logo does much to convey the island as part of the product (see States of Jersey, 2010a: 33-34). The “island lure” (Baldacchino, 2010a) is inherent in the logo and therefore in the produce and products the organization supports. While Kotler (2004: 12) notes that “places are more difficult to brand than products”, the Genuine Jersey brand offers a way of combining the two. The inclusion of the name of the island itself in Genuine Jersey branding offers a powerful way of simultaneously place branding and product/produce branding (Anholt, 2008; Hanna & Rowley, 2008). Compare, for example, the “New Zealand, 100%” branding exercise that was launched in 1999 (Morgan et al., 2002), which also offers a powerful linguistic message entwined in ideas of authenticity and place branding in connection with the promotion of the country as a green and clean place to visit.11 Furthermore, the Genuine Jersey logo mentions Jersey twice. First, along the top of the almost semi-circular logo the text “Product of Jersey” is written; and second, “Genuine Jersey” features as the main central wording. Linking “product”, “genuine” and “Jersey” in this way reinforces the sense of the item having an authentic content, and the more goods that carry this mark then the more the idea is strengthened in comparison with goods that do not carry the mark. Moreover, not only is the term Jersey part of the overall brand, but several businesses that belong to Genuine Jersey also have the term in the title of their business or produce (Genuine Jersey, Products).
10 A related sense of authenticity is offered by Jersey Tourism in their “Pure Jersey” campaign in which some Genuine Jersey goods are featured (Jersey Tourism, 2011).
11 There is also an example offered in the branding guides (States of Jersey, 2007) where the Genuine Jersey logo and golden bird are placed together, thus presenting a product/produce brand logo simultaneously with the one that represents the island.
250 ‘Genuine Jersey’ Another symbolic aspect of the logo is found in terms of its shape. While it has been designed so that the text occupies the upper part of an almost semi-circular mark, what is particularly symbolic about the shape of the lower line on the logo, which consists of a wavy or jagged line across the centre, is that this can be seen to represent part of Jersey’s ragged coastline. This is another inherent aspect of the brand that allows it to stand for the island in various linguistic and non-verbal ways, and to encompass place branding simultaneously with goods’ branding.
Genuine Jersey goods are found in many retail and public contexts. Not only do individual businesses have their own sites and mechanisms to market or sell their goods, but there are several other public contexts that do much to promote specifically Genuine Jersey products and produce. These include two shops that specialize in Genuine Jersey goods, and public events where products and produce are showcased and sold to the wider local and visiting public.
Genuine Jersey has also been active in several events that reward its members, and also entice non-members to take a more active role in the organization. As noted in one of its press
Nominations are being sought for three awards, namely ‘Best New Genuine Jersey Product or Initiative’, ‘Member of the Year’ and ‘Genuine Jersey Retailer of the Year’.
The first two awards are open to the Association’s membership, which now totals almost 60 local businesses. The third award is specifically for non-member businesses only. (Genuine Jersey Products Association, 2005).
One of Genuine Jersey’s founding members, La Mare Wine Estate, opened a shop in Jersey’s capital, St. Helier, in 2004. The shop, which is called Maison La Mare, also sells produce belonging to other Genuine Jersey members (Genuine Jersey Products Association, 2004a).
The shop is located on King Street, which is a pedestrian precinct at the heart of Jersey’s retail district. Its prominent red façade along with its French name make it particularly noticeable amongst many other shops with mainly English names. Indeed, it is perhaps the shop’s French name that adds a further aspect of foregrounding Jersey in terms of its geographic proximity to mainland France. Jersey makes much of its French and Norman connections, so for the visiting tourist the shop becomes a symbol for these links.
One retail site that occupies the gaze of locals and tourists alike is the shop at Jersey Airport called “The Real Flavour of Jersey” (Figure 3). The shop is a collaboration between The Jersey Pottery and La Mare Wine Estate, both members of Genuine Jersey. The shop sells some items with the Genuine Jersey logo on them, and its name further emphasizes the branding of local goods in an authentic way. Here, the “real flavour of Jersey” offers a point of reference that, like the term “Genuine Jersey”, creates a hidden signifier of an “other”: that is, goods that are inauthentic (i.e. non-members). Further features of the shop include its use of two Jersey flags, which are further signifiers of localness, along with several low-lying light shades that have stripes that are reminiscent of those on the French flag (Figure 3). Interestingly, another wellknown Jersey business, Jersey Pearl, has a shop at Jersey Airport just by “The Real Flavour of Jersey”, although Jersey Pearl, whilst offering a brand that claims Jersey and the pearl as its own, is not a member of Genuine Jersey, presumably because of its pearls being imported to
the island. However, Jersey Silver Plating is a member of Genuine Jersey, and it is based in the Jersey Pearl building.
Apart from these retail outlets, there are several regular or annual events where Genuine Jersey goods are promoted to the wider public around the island. These include the Jersey Farm and Craft Market (during July and August), St Aubin Farmers and Crafts Market and St Aubin Food Fair. Also, a special Christmas market is held a few days before Christmas (Hathaway, n.d.). While Genuine Jersey is involved with helping local businesses brand their products or produce, it also sponsors events such as the St Aubin Food Fair. This fair is the highlight of the Jersey Tourism “A Taste of Jersey in Autumn” week. In 2002, the event attracted over 10,000 people (Genuine Jersey Products Association, 2004b), and in 2003 the figure was estimated at 18 to 20,000 people (British Tourist Authority, 2003: 16).
Other market events that feature Genuine Jersey goods include the Saturday markets run by Jersey Turbot at St Catherine’s; a Genuine Jersey village market as part of the Jersey Evening Post West Show; and Christmas fairs held at Jersey Pottery as part of Jersey Tourism’s La Fête dé Noué (Christmas fête).
Each of the public events noted above are sites where Genuine Jersey goods are put on show to potential consumers. The events are intended for locals and tourists alike, with the majority taking place during peak tourist season. In each, Genuine Jersey is able to take preference over other traders’ goods, set up stalls and promote its members’ goods, or organize the events for the main purpose of promoting the products and produce of the businesses it represents. There is a distinct sense of Genuine Jersey goods at many of these events in that the brand is sometimes displayed collectively on the same stands. With these events, the government is indirectly involved in funding much of Genuine Jersey’s activities, and thus gives some local businesses support at such events over other businesses who are not members of the organization (States of Jersey, 2010a: 32-33). The brand’s success in this context is that it has become a wider part of island life: it is from the island, about the island and for the island. As noted by the Chief Executive Officer when asked about Genuine Jersey’s biggest achievement over the past decade: “it’s managed to integrate itself into the island... it’s become a part of everyday life... it’s trusted... and... [it] is authentic” (Garton, 2011). This statement is supported by the growth of Genuine Jersey over more than ten years: gaining more members, receiving more sponsorship, and broadening its public activities and events around the island for locals and tourists alike.
This paper has discussed Genuine Jersey as an example of a public-private organization in a small island context that exists to generate, maintain and strengthen a distinctly powerful Jersey brand. Genuine Jersey celebrates and constructs notions of authenticity, and interconnects business and government, either directly or indirectly. The discussion has shown how this organization brands Jersey produce and products within a framework of adding “island value” that either builds on consolidating recognized traditional island goods within its marketing campaign, or bringing in other goods that fulfil the requirements of being included
and therefore linking them with notions of authenticity in being representative of Jersey as the place of production. Members’ goods are approved to be authentically, genuinely Jersey.
As an organization, Genuine Jersey’s unique place as a public-private partnership allows it to receive government support, which indirectly helps promote its members’ goods. The case study has shown that Genuine Jersey is simultaneously involved in place branding in connection with Jersey, and with goods branding in connection with the produce and products of its members, some of which also include the word Jersey in their name. In doing so, the organization helps preserve goods that have long been considered traditional, and sometimes rediscovers or even invents a notion of authenticity for others within this framework.