Why Jamie Oliver Loves YouTube [CASE STUDY] #smlondon

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Jamie Oliver is a well-known media personality – known for his work as a celebrity chef, restaurateur and for his commitment to help bettering food education globally. Jamie Oliver owns a series of endorsed brands that belongs to the Jamie Oliver Media Group.

While he’s known for the TV shows and cook books, he’s also got a website/blog, apps, social media channels, health campaigns and petitions, partnerships, magazine and restaurant chain.

The Jamie Oliver Food Tube YouTube channel was created in 2013. According to the Jamie Oliver Media Group Press Kit (2014), the Food Tube can award itself by being the #1 food channel in EMEA on YouTube, and having 1.3m (now 1.7m) subscribers. It also claims to be ranked as the #3 food channel in the world with an average of 4.6m video views per month.

Now here’s a fun fact: Jamie Oliver’s children are named Poppy, Daisy, Petal and Buddy Bear. Yep. Our beloved celebrity chef is totally bonkers.


As a diversified endorsed brand, the Jamie Oliver Media Group’s facing plenty of challenges that are involved in managing a global brand. This case study, however, will focus on only two of them:

  1. As a restauranteur, Jamie Oliver’s key challenge lies in attracting and retaining top talent.
  2. The branded YouTube channel Food Tube‘s key challenge lies in continue to deliver valuable content to viewers in an increasingly more competitive market place.

Jamie Oliver’s key challenges: talent and content

Data, facts and trends:

Increasing competition and the YouTube food blogger space:

Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel, Food Tube, is currently one of the most popular food channels on the video sharing platform. Statista.com ranks the channel #10 in the world in terms of total monthly views. The Jamie Oliver Media Group themselves claim the channel is the #1 food channel on YouTube in Europe, Middle East according to their 2014 press kit, and #3 in the world. Other popular channels include My Cupcake Addiction (1.9m subscribers), How To Cook That (1.7m subscribers) and Laura in the Kitchen (1.9m subscribers). What these successful channels have in common, in addition to a vibrant community and professional videos, is that the hosts are self-taught – some started their food channels as a hobby. Nevertheless, the food channel audience are loving it, with more and more brands entering the online food channel space.

Views of branded YouTube videos has nearly doubled in the last 12 months, and publishing agencies such as VICE, the edgy, often controversial media force, and Buzzfeed, has launched their own food channels in recent years.

For some audiences, specifically Millennials and Gen Z, TV can look like a very poor option indeed compared to online as audiences fall away and the cost of production for TV ads stays relatively high…

…says Sandra Peat, strategy director at content marketing agency The Moment in an interview with MarketingWeek. And low production costs are definitely a factor to the attractiveness of creating a food channel on YouTube; anyone with a camera, computer, a kitchen and a decent microphone can in theory be a successful YouTube chef in 2015.

YouTube as a disruptive force:

YouTube is becoming an increasingly more disruptive platform, and celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver loves it. He told MarketingWeek last month:

I’ve got a free spirit and traditional broadcasting has its fair share of restrictions for talent. The commissioning process is hard although slowly people are changing. I think I’ve earned the right to say I’m an expert of sorts and I think there’s interesting stories to be told. I like the idea that marketing departments can be the new TV commissioners.


Consistency: uploads, brand identity and brand voice is strictly controlled.

And brands are getting serious with YouTube; OpenSlate found that in a survey of 313 online media buyers, 41 percent said they plan to increase their YouTube spend in the next 12 months. And of the top 500 brands (Interbrand ranking), the food industry ranks fourth in using YouTube as a communication channel, behind the technology, retail and the automotive industries. Brands have increased their focus on YouTube over the last five years; publishing rates on YouTube by Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands have increased an average of 73 percent annually, according to Pixability.

Changing consumer demands:

The younger generations are changing the way people seek culinary experiences by using new media such as the Internet. With generally good availability to exotic ingredients and online recipes, there’s a decreasing demand for cook books.

Today, we’re comfortable cooking with the help of a ‘how to’ YouTube video playing on the iPad. We’re becoming increasingly more used to exotic dishes and cuisines, a trend driven partly by a change in the way we travel and partly by the accessibility of both exotic ingredients, exotic restaurants and high quality online resources about cooking.

Either way, the 18-34 demographic are in love with YouTube food channels. According to Google, this group watch 30 percent more food videos than any other group, and was a driving force behind a 280 percent growth in food channel subscriptions over a 12 month period from June 2013 to June 2014. YouTube experienced a growth of 59 percent in new food and recipe content and a 188 percent increase in community engagement.

Rise of visual communication:

And YouTube is expected to keep flourishing in the coming years, according to the driving trends in visual communication. A 2014 Cisco Systems Inc report state that 84% of online communication will be video-based by 2018; it’s currently 78%. And it doesn’t seem to be just a phase – Microsoft found that the average adult now has an attention span of only 8 seconds, which makes video the physiologically preferred content to consume. These findings correlate with the trend of worsening critical reading scores of American SAT tests, and underpins why online food resources is the way forward for publishers and content creators alike.

The food industry and shortage of talent:

According to an article published by Foodmanufacture.co.uk in 2014, the UK food and beverages industry will be in need of around 170,000 employees in 2020. However, attracting students to the sector is continuing to be a though challenge. For restauranteurs, the problem is worsened by difficulties in attracting and retaining the talent that already exists in the industry.

“I know first hand that this industry has never been more dynamic. This generation and the next will make the biggest impact on the food industry we’ve ever seen,” Jamie told The Grocer in an interview published on their websites in 2014. In 2013, he criticised TV commissioning for hindering promoting fresh talent in the food industry.

The Jamie Oliver vision and mission:


  • Vision: A healthier, happier world.
  • Mission: We want to be the most trusted voice in food, to empower everyone to enjoy good food and to push for positive change in our global food system.

The Jamie Oliver brand:

In terms of Jamie’s personal brand, he’s is positioned as a down to earth, middle of the road kind of chef. He doesn’t have the ‘head chef’, strictly professional feel of someone like Heston or Gordon Ramsay, and lacks the elegance of chefs like Nigella Lawson. But this seems to work out in Oliver’s favour, as it seems to appeal to a broad, mass audience. His strategic partnership with Sainsbury reflects the brand positioning as well, which caters to a mass market. Jamie as a person can be described by the key words “making it easy”, “anyone can” and “inspiring”. Keywords for the brand include “simplicity”, “practicality”, “ease”, “informal”, “inclusive” and “energy”. Jamie is known for his warm personality, strong beliefs and enthusiasm for sharing knowledge. His brand values include being authentic and following principles, keeping things simple and going the extra mile, according to brand guidelines published by ISSUU.

In terms of brand architecture, the Jamie Oliver brand is using a horizontal brand extension strategy, with a large variety of endorsed and standalone sub-brands:


The Jamie Oliver Brand Hierarchy (Source: Jamie Oliver Media Group’s 2014 Press Kit)

Millward Brown’s Iain Rack shared some insight in an article published by The Marketer, “The brand only really plays in the food, kitchen and homeware categories as it fits with Oliver’s belief about making cooking and food accessible so that anyone can do it.” This seems to have changed slightly in later years, perhaps most prominently evident by the creation of ad production agency Fat Lemon and his involvement with new social sharing app ‘YOU’.

Jamie Oliver social media performance

While Jamie’s personal style might be interpreted as casual, his brand strategy and management is not. The Jamie Oliver brand definitely doesn’t “just happen” – an experienced, talented team is behind the star chef’s brand management. It’s headed by Rosangela Amadei, who’s previously held senior marketing roles in FOX TV, Johnson & Johnson and Heinz.


Jamie Oliver’s most popular social media platform is Twitter, with 4.6m followers. Second is their Facebook account with 3.9m page likes, and third is the @jamieoliver Instagram account with 3.1m followers.

What Jamie is currently doing to tackle challenges:

Attracting & retaining talent:

By focusing his efforts on his YouTube channel, Jamie Oliver is able to avoid the TV commissioners altogether – and thus avoiding a major obstacle in promoting talent on broadcasted media. A key reason behind launching Food Tube in the first place was to do exactly that – to launch and establish new cooking talent.

Therefore, a key feature to Oliver’s Food Tube is to feature fresh cooking talent – 11 in total, including his former boss and mentor Gennaro Cortaldo, and chefs from other, smaller food channels on YouTube. Speaking to Broadcast Magazine3, Jamie Oliver is quoted saying, “YouTube has been amazing for allowing me to draw in disparate talent.” The ‘guest chefs’ feature several times weekly on the cooking channel, and their expertise are in different areas. The common denominator, however, is that they all represent some of the best cooking talent on the Internet, and have an authentic expression that Jamie can personally get behind.

On other fronts, Jamie’s backed the online recruitment system FoodStart – a free collaborative service provided by the Institute of Food Science and Technology to help address the shortage of talent in the industry.

Delivering valuable content:

At the core of delivering good quality content that the Jamie Oliver fans love is social listening. The marketing team at Jamie Oliver monitor how the audience is reacting to the content they put out, in addition to monitoring social media in identifying trends. Following a panel session at Social Media Week in 2014, social media manager at Jamie Oliver Ltd, Subi Gnanaseharam shared insight on how the team deals with content creation. She explains:

We’ve just finished a whole series on gluten free and dairy free and focused on people’s special diets and we know through people’s reactions that they are loving it. That’s only come about from the need that we’ve seen from our social channels and across our products as well. Social media is really helping us and making us smarter as well in terms of what we’re producing, where we’re going and where we want to go as a brand.

We try and listen. It’s not just Jamie’s channels, we have a YouTube food channel and a drinks channel as well and they are all about finding out what the audience wants to see next. They don’t just produce videos. They will ask the audience what they want us to feature and that’s what you see the outcomes of. It’s the same with our editorial as well.

Subi also shares a key component to social media success in the video food blog space – high quality photos and quality control of recipes. She also talks about how user generated content fits in with the brand’s core values:

For Jamie, beautiful food is just as important as driving that health, sustainability and food education message. He’s obviously really passionate about food education, and for him, telling those important and nutritional messages about food education through photography is also important.

For us, photography is key, as well as taste. That is why our recipes are tried out seven or eight times before they are even published in a book…pictures are our strongest tool and we make sure that is accountable for all of our programmes. That’s where user generated content comes across as well. We get thousands of pictures shared with us every day – and that’s not just people cooking the recipes. It’s from people who are empowering themselves by learning to cook from scratch, educating them about the food globally.

Here we can see how the brand’s core values are represented in their core activities; to empower and teach people to learn to cook from scratch.


To summarise, the Jamie Oliver brand is thriving due to increasing demand for video content and online food resources, along with the unregulated, TV Commissioner free platform that YouTube offers. By using his strong, authentic globally known brand, he and his marketing team manages the brand and the community closely in creating high quality content in order to launch and promote fresh talent in the food space – something that is desperately needed.

By using high quality photography and quality control, Jamie Oliver continuously publish content that the audience loves, all while staying true to the brand’s values and positioning.

We want to hear your opinion – comment below!

What do you think lies in the future for online food channels?

Is Jamie doing enough to tackle the challenges facing the industry and brand? 

[Main image: Shutterstock]

Axel Andersen

Axel is a marketing student.