Brand royalty


By Camilla Davies

With the royal nuptials worth an expected £1 billion uplift to the UK economy, and officially the most watched TV event of the year, brands have seen fit to leverage the occasion. The wedding acted as a revenue generator across sectors, with £300 million predicted in tourism alone – the gorgeous weather Saturday no doubt encouraging even more of the viewing public from overseas to make the voyage across the pond and visit the UK. The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle fell on the same day as the FA Cup Final however, meaning brands had to choose where to align their allegiances and where they could extract the most value amongst their target audience. So, let’s see how the brands not already committed to football tie-ins capitalised on the nation’s royal fever.


Doughnut Time

Doughnut Time offered two limited edition doughnuts inspired by the happy couple, for a royal premium of £4.50 a pop at their stores and pop-ups across the capital. The ‘When Harry Met Meghan’ doughnut (cream glazed with Ferrero Rocher) and the ‘Markle Sparkle’ (buttered popcorn glaze, with marshmallows, sprinkles and a tiara to adorn it) offered a cutesy his ‘n’ hers twist. We’re just disappointed there was no play on ‘I dough.’



It’s not the first time in recent months that KFC has experimented with its bucket branding to convey a message. Now, to mark the Royal Wedding, KFC have leant on dual angles – Prince Harry proposing over a chicken dinner, and his new bride’s American heritage. The fast food giant launched 50 limited edition commemorative buckets, available exclusively at KFC’s Windsor restaurant on the wedding day itself. According to the brand, the buckets are ‘lavish and regal in design’, featuring a bespoke crest and a bold gold. Meghan may not be from Kentucky, but KFC have featured the star spangled banner alongside the GB flag tribute.


Marks & Spencer

You’d think there was already a sandwich to mark the royal occasion (Coronation Chicken, no?) however as mentioned, Prince Harry popped the question to the future royal while dishing up roast chicken. M&S commemorated the gesture with ‘The Proposal’, a limited-edition version of their existing chicken sandwich, available nationwide. The brand also announced that anyone presenting their royal wedding invite in store over the weekend would receive their meal deal for free – whether any of the attendees took them up on that offer remains to be seen. The champion of the British high street also released the expected monarchic memorabilia, including a biscuit tin – and changed their name to ‘Markle & Sparkle’ for a limited period to generate buzz.



Iceland let consumers have their cake and eat it too, by creating a replica version of the much-discussed wedding cake. If there’s a brand that’s stayed on-message when leveraging the royal furore, it’s the frozen food giant. With their TV spots typically dedicated to simple, delicious party food, the cake, created by head Chef, Neil Nugent, and retailing at £8, is a well-executed extension of an existing strategy. Supposedly similar to the lemon and elderflower cake hand crafted by Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery, we’re sure it’s tasty, however we’ve yet to hear of anyone who sampled the real deal volunteering to taste test for authenticity.


Friction Free Shaving

Friction Free Shaving, the women’s shaving subscription service, decided to give away shaving cream, pre-shave scrub and post-shave balm in their nod to the Royal Wedding. Their tongue in cheek ‘Tame Your Heir’ messaging raises a smile and brings the brand publicity in amongst the currently crowded marketplace of subscription beauty and grooming products.



Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, may be an eligible bachelor no longer, but IKEA know of a Harry that’s still single and available. The brand’s witty social post and landing page image on the site, let consumers know that their Harry chair was still up for grabs. The fun marketing piece generated thousands of social reactions and brought attention to the brand while existing within its brand identity.



The winners and losers

The Royal Family are set to make the kingdom a small mint this year; the birth of Prince Louis is predicted to bring an estimated £50 million boost to the economy in the first year of his life alone, plus the new Duchess of Sussex is forecast to bring £150 million into the economy, according to economists at Brand Finance.

However, like many occasions across the marketing event calendar, the Royal Wedding isn’t a natural fit for a lot of brands. With past ‘occasion’ mistakes to reflect on – take Pringles and their Ramadan display featuring Smoky Bacon flavour product, or London Dungeon’s Valentine’s posts that missed the mark (unsurprisingly, not everyone was convinced by posts reading “What’s the difference between your job and a dead prostitute? Your job still sucks.” and “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got genital warts and soon you will too.”), there was plenty of room for brands to try to leverage the occasion but fall short. Happily, there have emerged no major brand faux pas to speak of. As the union of Harry and Meghan updates the image of the royals from out-of-touch to relevant – if not quite relatable -  both home and abroad, we look forward to seeing what else brands do to generate buzz and profit as this honeymoon period continues. 


Claire Scott