I saw a special screening last night of Julie and Julia, a new movie about Julia Child and Julie Powell, the blogger who built her career on a tribute to the gourmet matriarch. It’s a great flick, full of heart and engaging. I’m not a movie critic, though, I’m a marketing writer, and as I watched the movie, I viewed it with the eyes of my trade. One thought came to my mind immediately: Julia Child’s classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” is going to be flying from the shelves once this film is released on August 7th. After the show, I mentioned this to my friends, and they not only agreed, but we also believe it is going to reignite America’s passion for gourmet home cooking.
I hope so. My own mother was a fan of Julia Child, and God rest her soul, Mama tried in vain to cook like her. We were her helpless subjects to her failed attempts at Julia’s cassoulets, soufflés, and aspics. Mama’s beef bourguignon would have sent Julia to the medicine cabinet for an overdose of Tums. Still, I wouldn’t trade those memories or heartburn for a big buttery slice of le pain (no pun intended) straight from Julia’s oven.
Julia Child created a passion for gourmet cooking in the American household in the sixties and seventies. She took a small town Mississippi secretary and gave her a simple dream: to show her family her love for them through cooking up glamorous dishes. Julia taught my mother (and millions of other moms) how to create a dining experience made with fine, fresh ingredients and stewed with love and patience. She may well be the reason Fondue became popular. I also like to think that she had, at least in small part, something to do with the reason American’s started adding wine to the dinner menu. For that, I’m eternally grateful, especially since I’ve inherited my mother’s passion for fine food, and unfortunately, her degree of talent. The more wine we drink, the better my cooking tastes.
In a sense, Julia Child was a great marketer. She did effortlessly what professional marketers try to do strategically. She marketed passion and emotion, albeit through food. Her true love showed in her work: on her TV show and in her books. Julie Powell did the same with her blog, as the movie shows us through her story. She molded her love of cooking, specifically her love of Julia Child’s cooking, into a successful night job that turned into a full-time career. As marketers, we are told to tell a story, touch on emotions, create advocates, not just consumers. These ladies are examples of that at its purest: successful brands born out of a passion they conveyed sincerely. They didn’t just create advocates, they created famished fans, hungry for more of what these ladies had to offer.
I look forward to the official release of Julie and Julia, and I hope I’m right, that a trend will be born, a combustible reigniting of an interest in great cooking. The “Food Network” has already helped spark this interest and fan it into a consistent flame, which is evidence through the food blogs that flourish with devoted readers. Of course, without Julia, I am not sure that the Food Network would have existed, because she is the one who created our initial love of fine food. I think this movie may make the flame spread like wildfire. I, for one, will enjoy the heat.
Julie and Julia will be released August 7th by Sony Pictures.