Dave Nichol and President’s Choice

Question: when is something bigger than a store or brand, but small enough to take home and enjoy?

Answer: when it’s President’s Choice!

Talk about an iconic Canadian company…

Do you remember Dave Nichol? Now there’s an interesting man. He’s a Canadian Product Marketing expert, and currently the CEO of Dave Nichol & Associates. You may not have known those things. But many, if not most of you will remember his days as the Loblaw’s/President’s Choice spokesperson in a host of television spots from the 1980s. How about Dave’s Insider’s Report; do you still pick these up when you go to Loblaws? Mr. Nichol oversaw the initial development of this very popular, full of yummy products circular. Did any of you buy The Dave Nichol Cookbook? If so, you’d be in good company: 100,000 of those were sold.

Neither Loblaws, nor Dave Nichol, were always famous, recognizable Canadian icons. And of course, the entire array of “no name”, President’s Choice, Too Good to be True (now known as PC Blue Menu), and “Green” brand of products didn’t exist until after Nichol joined the chain.

Back in 1972, the Weston-owned Loblaws’ supermarket chain was suffering. They were losing money. Galen Weston asked Nichol to help, and he joined the chain as Executive Vice-President. Four years later, he became President. It was around that time that the four-tier array of products, mentioned above, was developed. And it was around 1980 that Nichol’s became the company spokesperson. Every time a new Insider’s Report was released—three times a year—Dave would appear in numerous infomercials. New products were built around product names. Perhaps you got in on one of their famous “Memories of…” products? Maybe you still do! In 1985, when Loblaws was reorganized, Nichol was made President of Loblaw International: a post he held until 1993.

Dave tried to repeat his Loblaws/President’s Choice success when he became CEO of Destination Products International (a subsidiary of Cott Corporation). Unfortunately, that venture did not work out well, and over the five years he was there, Cott’s stock price dropped spectacularly. Even a beer he named after himself didn’t fly.

Perhaps we’ll remember Dave best as the man who turned around Loblaws. In any case, Nichol had made his mark. His authorized biography, written by Anne Kingston—The Edible Man: Dave Nichol, President’s Choice & the Making of Popular Taste—came out in 1994. In 2005, Dave was inducted as a Visionary into the Marketing Hall of Legends, by the American Marketing Association. It doesn’t get much better than that! Would you like to see Dave in action, in his Loblaws’ heyday? Check out the following vintage YouTube commercial, which initially aired in 1985:


Can’t see the video? Click here.

The President’s Choice concept, however, is bigger than Mr. Nichols.

It was born of the belief that “Canadians deserved better quality food choices for their hard-earned dollars.” Initially offered at discount prices, things went from good to great for this line, as Canadians embraced the concept, and of course the products, in droves. We still do. And as many of you will already know, the products offered by President’s Choice (perhaps best known under its current brand name of PC) involve more then food. Before leaving the subject of food, however, we should mention the PC Insiders. A collection of (very lucky) Chefs and product developers now travel the world to get inspiration for new products. Jump over to your local Loblaws, if you have one in your area, and you can get in on this. In addition, there’s a PC Insider’s Club! Pop over to the main President’s Choice website and join up if you’d like.

While PC is best known for their food products, they have diversified to the tune of resounding success. President’s Choice Financial is an institution where over 2 million Canadians do their banking. Why? That’s easy: it’s a no-fee bank! At no charge they offer chequing, transactions, bill payments and more. PC Financial was formed in 1996, in combination with CIBC. But the PC line up—even the financial line-up—doesn’t end there. To avoid making this post sound like one big advertisement, something that isn’t our intention here, we’ll simply list a few more of the many President’s Choice offerings for your reference:

  • PC MasterCard
  • PC Mutual funds
  • PC Insurance (even for pets!)
  • PC Telecom

President’s Choice is also a great company for corporate giving and philanthropic efforts. Check out the President’s Choice Children’s Charity site to read more about what they do for Canadian children, right across the country.

We’ll leave you with a thought, and though maybe a long shot, a possible way for you to make anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 from President’s Choice, with an opportunity to see your recipe appear in every store.

PC’s Recipe to Riches contest continues all over our land. For example, auditions for the 2012 contest/show in Vancouver take place on February 18th, in Montreal on February 25th, and in Toronto on March 4th. The television show based around this contest is fun to watch, and for sure the products will make your mouth water. And the greatest part of this is that average Canadians, ones with time-honoured and tested recipes just like your own, can and do win in this very cool contest.

(President’s Choice is the only brand of food I miss since moving out of Canada!)

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Category: Companies

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