There, you already know the answer/s to the question/s in the first part of this piece (read the prologue here). But then, you already knew the answer when you knew there was a second piece.
So, I left the auto, entered the hotel (Raintree), went past security, entered the lobby, and checked with a hotel staff where the bloggers’ meet was. “Mauve Room, L1. You’ll need to take the lift.” I went up to the lift, pressed the button, and as I waited for it to arrive, decided to check my messages and mails. There was one mail from the coordinator of the event itself, inquiring where I was. Dang. Terribly late.
Reached the Mauve Room, saw the board outside, and steadied myself to make a quiet entry. Did, and realised things were even quieter. Time to go loud now: IT HADN’T BEGUN!!!!! You can always trust Indian Stretchable Time!!!!!
I spotted Suneil Chawla, one of the two co-founders of Social Beat, the social-media agency organizing the event, went up to him, informed him I was late as – well, time to go quiet again – I had had a stomach upset, but was fine now. He told me that was ok, they had factored in some late-coming, and told me to take a seat.
Did so, got my breath back a bit, and a few minutes later, the show was on. The client would talk a bit about the company, brand and product, make a short presentation, we would have a short tasting, and then he (name Vishal, don’t quite remember his designation) would take questions, along with the feedback. And oh, they had arranged for video testimonials as well. Cool, finally a video of mine could go viral. Or at least, I could circulate it through my social media pages.
On1y (note the spelling) comes from the Bangalore-based Jayanti Group, which is in the agri-businesses of spice, tea, and coffee. Started by Jayantilal Shah (and so the name) in 1940, it is now in the hands of the latest generation. Its entry into the herbs and seasonings’ industry is not just with an intention to expand its offerings, but also as the logical next step to one of its present lines of work: it has been doing private labeling for other brands of herbs and seasonings, which retail for a premium, so it thought why not brand our product ourselves and make it available at a more accessible price.
What On1y also gets from its parent is the logo. The Jayanti logo has a green leaf within, so does On1y’s. This is, apart from reflecting lineage, also to indicate things like fresh, natural, green. Vishal corroborated this in a casual chat later: the chairman was very clear that the On1y logo have a leaf element somewhere. I am equally clear too: the logo scores. It’s neat, clear, communicative. I also inquired with Vishal next why they decided to call it so. He responded, “We want to be the only brand of choice/consideration around people’s tables/kitchens.” And the name scores too.
My roving, branding-loving eyes next went to the packaging. On1y’s 21 flavours come in two kinds of packs, as appropriate. They have sprinklers in tin boxes that have a see-through front for products that are best, well, sprinkled, such as oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning. The other kind of pack is a glass bottle with a firmly attached grinder at the top, which you grind clockwise and anti-clockwise (for best results) to get freshly ground condiments and spices on your food. These include pink salt, sea salt, and black pepper, among others. It can be refilled at the most once, but they suggest it’s best to get a new bottle.I tried my hand at the grinder for salad seasoning. It takes some getting used to, and I’m not sure I got it right the first time. However, there was ample salad around. So, when I tried it the next time, it was more wieldy, and actually fun to use. Ladies, you may want to be careful asking him to help out in the kitchen now.
My attention then went to the design. I had noticed lovely motifs and icons on the slide for each product during the presentation. But it was only during the tasting when we were up close with the products that I noticed better. There are cute images of the place of origin of each sprinkler product. For instance, basil has illustrations of Egyptian kings like found around the pyramids as it’s farmed in Egypt and oregano has a whirling dervish as it’s procured from Turkey, which I also learned is the spice capital of the world.
So, the folk at On1y seem to have paid as much attention to the branding and packaging as to the product. The sign of any passionate marketer. Now, would the product itself make the grade?
At the tasting, there were four salads and a soup. The soup seemed a cream of broccoli or spinach (I later found out it was the first): non-vegan, so out for me. One salad was non-veg (chicken, I believe), but the other three salads were all vegan. A spicy corn, a spicy potato, and a potato-and-something mix (don’t remember the something now). I ground and drizzled the salad seasoning onto the three vegan salad portions on my plate. I took a bite of the spicy corn, and it hit all the right buttons in my palate. It tingled my taste-buds, made me salivate, and made it difficult to have a conversation with all those juices swirling in my mouth. But it was a client-sponsored gathering, so decided to be discreet and eat slow. I also think I figured out why they had actually called themselves so: On1y the best would do. And of course, the ‘1’ instead of ‘l’ tops it.
The tasting went on for some more time. Folk moved around from table to table, group to group, person to person, socializing, chatting, networking. In between, Social Beat had opened up Twitter on the laptop/projector, where the bloggers/influencers were already taking pix and posting/tweeting. The agency/client had decided to keep it chilled out: we didn’t necessarily have to tweet/post right then, we could go back and do so. Perfect, we could concentrate on the food.
Lunch was ready soon after. We stepped outside. I had a look and was a bit disappointed by the fare: not much vegan. (Raintree to blame?) Only a pulao and… paapad. Apart from the salads, of course. They had also mixed up the butter roti and khulcha, and staunchly vegan me would not indulge in this contamination. So, I took a portion of the rice, a paapad, the spicy potato, and was done. After all, wouldn’t want to chance my stomach too much.
The last item on the itinerary – apart from the coffee/tea, which is never good for a stomach upset and so I didn’t stay for – was the video testimonial. I waited for most others to speak their bit, wrapped up mine, concentrating of course on the vegan bit (yes, all of On1y’s products are delightfully vegan, even the meat seasoning), and saying my byes to Suneil and some of the others (had made acquaintance with a food blogger/entrepreneur and an ad agency biggie, apart from meeting again a social-media campaigner I knew from another networking meet), made to scoot. Oh, and after receiving their celebration pack, which comprised four products (two sprinklers and two grinders), a leaflet, and an Amazon gift voucher, which I went home and promptly used for getting some books.
Good food. Good meet. Good conversations. Good networking. Good gifts. The day may not have started well, with the bad stomach and all, but it sure ended up A-fine. Enough for me to brave taking a normal auto back home.
You can find out more about On1y here: On1y website
You can find out more about Social Beat here: Social Beat website