In the annals of brand taglines, "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee" is considered a timeless classic. It evoked images of delectable baked wholesome goodies, fresh from the oven. As a result, the Sara Lee name was indelibly etched into the minds of a generation of moms. (Actually, the full tagline was "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.")
But that was yesterday. Today's Sara Lee is moving in an entirely new direction — with a product line that concentrates on packaged meats rather than baked goods. So goodbye "Sara Lee" and hello Hillshire Brands, the official new name of the food company's North American foods business as a result of its corporate split. According to a press release, "The new name of the company ... will become effective after the June 28, 2012 spin-off to shareholders of its international coffee and tea business."
It's a natural evolution, given the fact that Sara Lee had already divested itself of the snack cakes and cookies that were its claim to fame. Still, when a brand name with the equity of Sara Lee is abandoned, well...
Actually, the Sara Lee brand name will continue to exist, licensed by other companies, but those are just the crumbs. The new company, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, is also spinning off its coffee and tea product line under the moniker D. E. Master Blenders 1753, which will have its headquarters in Europe. That somewhat odd brand name is derived from Douwe Egberts, a coffee brand that was founded in 1753.
The core brand family will include mostly meat products, plus some frozen desserts and bakery products, worth $1 billion, and that's where the company sees its future. Sean Connolly, soon-to-be CEO of the reinvented Hillshire Brands, told investors in defense of the name change, "The trademark and the brand equity is incredible strong. You don't get to be a billion-dollar franchise by accident."
Indeed, Hillshire Brands does have some well-known brands in its portfolio. In addition to Hillshire Farms, there's Ball Park, Jimmy Dean and State Fair, for example. However, sales of Hillshire's meat products have dropped in the past few years "due to a mix of price increases to cover commodity costs, stale product packaging and a heavy focus on cost-cutting," according to The Wall Street Journal. Not everyone is bullish on Hillshire's potential, either. Former Sara Lee Executive Tim Ramey, now an analyst, suggested that "The company is shrinking and doesn't have a great strategy for reversing that trend."
The renamed corporate entity is betting the farm on the notion that one day consumers will feel, if not say, "Nobody doesn't like Hillshire Brands." One can only hope.