Brands release special products, packaging for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee

May 26, 2022

Buckingham Palace is pulling out all the stops to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the British throne—and brands are following suit with an array of limited-edition products and packaging, reports The Wall Street Journal.

British consumers in the run-up to the celebrations from June 2 through June 5 can shop for Platinum Jubilee-themed potato chips, lipsticks, condiments, and gins. There also is a Jubilee-themed stuffed toy shaped like an anthropomorphic carrot dressed as the Queen.

A Jubilee refrigerator, adorned with a Union Jack recolored in “Clean Black,” “Glam Lavender,” and “Glam Peach” hit the market this month courtesy of Samsung Electronics. So did Mattel’s “Queen Barbie,” which department store John Lewis & Partners said sold out in minutes. And stores across the U.K. are displaying window signs calling out to “Get Jubilee Ready.”

Companies hope to cash in on a long weekend of partying with packaging and product designs aiming to connect their brands to the national celebration of the Queen herself rather than the monarchy, which divides public opinion.

“In the U.K. we treat Jubilees as a moment of shared celebration, so it’s not only a time for brands that see themselves as super royalist,” said Jo Arden, chief strategy officer at advertising agency Ogilvy UK. “It is about being part of the national conversation.”

Royal commemorative objects first appeared in the U.K. in the 16th century, and the quantity and diversity of souvenirs boomed following the Industrial Revolution, said Amy Dobson, curator of the London Museum of Brands’ “Jubilation: 200 Years of Royal Souvenirs” exhibition.

Aligning brands with royalty adds a premium air to products, and introducing limited-edition lines creates a sense of urgency to buy, Dobson said.

Brands also view the Platinum Jubilee as a once-in-a-lifetime cultural moment they can lean on to sell more products amid a nationwide economic squeeze, marketers said.

Indeed, the Centre for Retail Research estimated consumers will spend the equivalent of $510 million during the Jubilee, including about $350 million for souvenirs and memorabilia and $150 million on festivities.

“Tapping into moments like the Jubilee helps bring our brands top of mind and ultimately drives sales,” said Anke von Hanstein, senior brand manager for sauces at Kraft Heinz .

Heinz for the Jubilee renamed two sauces: Its HP brown sauce has become HM—a nod to “Her Majesty”—and its Salad Cream is for a limited time Salad Queen. Heinz hopes the quirky branding will encourage consumers to buy bottles for street parties during the long weekend, von Hanstein said, adding the branding keeps its focus on the Queen, not the monarchy.

The label for Right Royal Pickle, a special-edition jarred pickled chutney from condiment company Tracklements, likewise focuses on the Queen, with a cartoon of her and her corgis.

“We don’t feel this is showing a political bias because [the Jubilee] seems like quite a mutual, fun celebration—everyone coming out of COVID; everyone being able to get back together again, the spirit of the street party,” said Sally Dorling, marketing manager of Tims Dairy which released a new “Strawberry Royale” flavor yogurt around the Jubilee.

The limited-edition yogurt, which is mixed with a strawberry-champagne conserve, features a small, tiara-like design drawing, similar to illustrations of crowns on Heinz’s sauce labels. The Platinum Jubilee design of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate also features a simple line drawing of a crown, the official emblem for the celebration.

Meanwhile, the U.K.’s flag has been employed very subtly, if at all, on limited-edition packaging. Designs are more likely to feature the flag with muted colors and a matte finish in contrast to earlier Jubilees, including the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, when the U.K. was gearing up to host the Olympic Games and the flag in traditional red, white and blue was flying everywhere, said the Museum of Brands’ Dobson.

“I wonder if the new designs for the Platinum Jubilee are reflective of consumer sentiment this year,” she said. “We’re going through turbulent times. Perhaps some of the brands are playing it just a little bit safer.”

Research contact: @WSJ