From next Monday, British viewers will be able to see a five-week long televised advertising campaign intended to promote Spam to consumers aged over 45 years. Given the current demand among consumers for retro consumer goods, the much-derided tinned meat may yet enjoy an unlikely renaissance.

Spam may recently have come to mean 'unsolicited email' to most people, but to many older consumers the word is still primarily a shortened form of the term 'spiced ham'. The tinned chopped spiced pork product was launched in Minnesota in 1936 with the slogan, "tastes fine, saves time", and it became well known in the UK during the Second World War when it was imported from the US to counteract food shortages. It would appear that British consumers developed a taste for Spam during this period as it has remained on the shelves ever since.

Sales of Spam, manufactured by the American company Hormel Foods, have been slowly recovering from an all-time low in the 1980s, and in the last few years this has been aided partly by the current trend towards nostalgic consumer products. Indeed there is seemingly potential for the brand to increase its share of the cold tinned meats market. Every week, 15 million British families buy cold tinned meat, but only two million of these tins contain Spam, Hormel claims.

However the brand still suffers from an old fashioned image, and is more or less unknown among consumers under the age of 40, unless it is in the context of the famous Monty Python television sketch. The five-week advertising onslaught seeks to address this problem by reminding consumers that the brand is still available. The advertisements will be aimed at consumers over the age of 45, perhaps triggering feelings of nostalgia for the Spam fritters that were once a staple of school meals. 

Hormel Foods is also keen to revitalise Spam consumption by promoting new serving suggestions. A myriad of Spam fan websites propose recipes such as Spam Tempura in the hope that they will appeal to consumers' increasingly sophisticated and adventurous palates. It seems there may yet be great days ahead for Spam: after all, stranger things have happened in the food sector.

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