The greatest thing since sliced bread
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Rod Nepomuceno () - August 21, 2006 - 12:00am
Some expressions can really be weird. And a lot them have something to do with food. For example, people like saying, "Piece of cake!" whenever they refer to something easy. If you ask a student, "How was the exam?" the student would say "Piece of cake!" Or sometimes, he would say, "Easy as pie!" This doesn’t make sense because if you ask pastry chefs, baking a cake (or a pie) is pure hard work. Then there’s the expression "You can have your cake and eat it, too." This refers to a situation where you get really lucky, or everything seems to be going your way or you get more than what is expected. For example, "Wow, that Alan guy is not only good-looking, he has a great personality, too. Everyone likes him. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too!"

And then, of course, there’s the world-famous expression "the greatest thing since sliced bread," which is used to describe something fantastic, new and amazing. Whoever came up with this expression obviously had not heard of the light bulb, the space shuttle or the microchip processor.

Anyway, last week, all of these expressions came to mind again when I had a chance to meet Goldilocks marketing director Pinky Yee, arguably the top authority in the Philippines on anything related to food, cakes, pies, pastries and yes, even sliced bread (bromate-free, too!).

I had always wanted to meet up with Pinky. For years, I have been intrigued by Goldilocks’ booming success. Every corner you go in the Philippines, there’s a Goldilocks store. And every time you open the papers, there’s always a story about Goldilocks, e.g., the opening of a new Goldilocks store in the US, Pinky Yee leading the way in a franchising convention, Goldilocks spearheading an inter-collegiate cake-decorating competition or being inducted in the Hall of Fame at the National Consumers Quality Awards.

As an advertising/marketing man, whenever a person or company is making that much noise and generating so much success for his/her business, you want to meet that person. So when I learned from my friend, Alan German, that he was close to Pinky, I quickly asked him to set up a meeting. Alan said, "No problem, Rod! Piece of cake."

When I met Pinky, it was like meeting a long-lost sister. You see, Pinky is an old friend of my sister, Cecile. Pinky used to come to our house and hang out with Cecile and some of their friends.

"Little Rod in shorts," Pinky said. "That’s how I remember you!"

I said, "Yup, that’s me. I’ve grown up a bit, but I’m still a kid when it comes to your cakes!" I related to Pinky how, as a kid, I would fantasize about having one of those Justice League birthday cakes – the ones adorned with Batman, Robin, and Superman statuettes.

"We still have those!" Pinky gushed. "And a lot, lot more, I might add."
A Filipino Fairy Tale
When Pinky talks about Goldilocks, you can sense the love she has for the company. "Goldilocks is no longer just a fast-food restaurant," she said. "It’s a Pinoy institution that has become deeply ingrained in the Filipino psyche."

I can truly see that. If you mention Goldilocks to a typical Pinoy, what comes to mind is not the fictional blonde, hungry little girl who ate the porridge of the three bears but rather cakes, pastries, empanada, mamon, ensaymada, pulburon and the best dinuguan, pansit palabok, and barbecue in town. This is confirmed by research as well. According to a 2005 study by AC Nielsen, Goldilocks enjoys a total product awareness of 100 percent, with 8 out of 10 respondents mentioning it first." Wow.

Pinky relates that her mother-in-law Milagros, together with her sister Clarita and their sister-in-law, Doris, started Goldilocks. They opened a small bakeshop in Pasong Tamo in 1966. A third sister, Maria Flor, came up with the name Goldilocks. Imagine, from just 10 employees and two display stands, Goldilocks has grown to 217 stores both here and abroad. "We have branches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Diego, and Vancouver and we provide jobs for around 4,000 people. We follow this principle: ‘thinking global, strategizing regional, and acting local.’ Goldilocks’ growth is phenomenal and it’s the theme of that growth that Filipinos love: a small startup, grown with sheer determination, ingenuity and Pinoy entrepreneurial spirit into a company of great proportions," said Pinky.

Of course, in the middle of all this growth is Pinky, who quickly adds in all humility, "It’s a team effort. We all contribute to its growth." You can’t deny, however, that Pinky’s creative marketing strategies have helped make Goldilocks what it is today. She spearheaded the much-talked-about 1st Intercollegiate Cake Decorating Challenge. They have since launched a line called Decorate Your Cake (DYC), allowing customers to customize their cakes. "It’s a great way for mother and child to bond," said Pinky.

Under Pinky’s marketing guidance, Goldilocks also introduced a line of low-calorie, sugar-free desserts via its Go Lite product line. Health-conscious customers have already made the sugar-free mamon, ensaymada, mango mousse lite, and walnut brownies instant best sellers. "We were able to grab a totally new market: the diet-conscious market!"

Another marketing success was their Sweet Memories campaign, which encouraged loyal customers to share their favorite Goldilocks moments. The promo produced thousands upon thousands of entries. And, most recently, Pinky launched a campaign to create a Pinoy birthday song. "We have Pinoy Christmas songs and wedding songs, so why not a Pinoy birthday song?" She commissioned the composition of a song entitled Araw Mo, which was perfomed by pop princess Nina. "The response to this song has been amazing! Radio stations get requests all the time," says Pinky. And it doesn’t end there. Knowing that corporate success is never complete without giving back to the community, Pinky decided to promote the song in a way that would benefit worthy causes. Araw Mo CDs are available in Goldilocks outlets and all proceeds from their sales will be given to the Leukemic Indigents Fund Endowment (L.I.F.E.) and UNICEF.

Truly, with Pinky at the helm of marketing, Goldilocks is in the pink of health not only financially, but also in terms of social relevance.

To sum up Goldilocks’ achievements, let me quote that world-famous food expression. Goldilocks is, literally and figuratively, the greatest thing since sliced bread – a true Filipino inspiration that we Filipinos can all be proud of.
* * *
Thanks for your letters, folks! You may e-mail me at rodhnepo@yahoo.com. And speaking of food, cooking, and baking, The American Hospitality Academy (AHA), the very first American culinary school in the country, is offering the following short courses: American Cuisine, Asian Cuisine, and Fundamentals of Baking. For inquiries, call AHA at 6700-8510, e-mail at info@ahaphil.com, check its website at www.ahaphil.com or visit its office at 108 Aguirre Bldg., H.V. de la Costa corner Soliman Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.

A FILIPINO FAIRY TALE AGUIRRE BLDG ALAN GERMAN AMERICAN CUISINE ARAW MO CAKE GOLDILOCKS PINKY PINKY YEE PINOY
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