The Fat Duck

Risks Reap Rewards!

Most people like to play it safe, but personally I’m a big fan of taking risks. And so is Executive Chef and owner of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal. After all, it was taking a risk that propelled him to superstardom.

Liquorice salmon. Snail porridge. Quail jelly. These aren’t your average run of the mill dishes, but he took a risk believing the public would develop an appetite for them. And he was right. The Fat Duck has been ranked one of the Top 5 Restaurants globally since 2004, and claimed top spot in 2005.

In Heston’s case, a calculated risk reaped huge dividends. The same applies in marketing. Let’s take an iconic Messages On Hold image – the yellow hands at AFL matches.

Our Managing Director, Kym Illman, knew it would be a risk ‘ambushing’ each game with his big yellow hands behind the goals. And sure enough he was right. (Once he was evicted from the ground!) Yes there was negative press, but he was able to go on radio and explain his motivation, ironically securing more free exposure at the same time.

You could think of it as a cost-benefit analysis. Is the potential reward greater than the risk? In our case yes. On one hand paying sponsors were upset, and there was some expected backlash from fans and viewers. But we were getting the Messages On Hold brand out to a national audience for the price of admission.

In the end we came to an agreement with West Coast that’s mutually beneficial. In fact – we’ve been a proud official sponsor for the last 20 years.

We’ve all heard this one before – “look before you leap”. But no one ever said you couldn’t leap at all! If you’ve done your research, weighed up the pros and cons and are prepared to take a risk, go with your gut! Next week we’ll take a look at how to manage any potential fallout.

– Magnus