Revolutionary non-HFSS doughnut brand underscores ‘shake up’ mission with powerful marketing strategy

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Anthony Fletcher is shaking up the sweet bakery category with 'doughnuts that taste just as good but with less sugar and fat'. Pic: Urban Legend
Anthony Fletcher is shaking up the sweet bakery category with 'doughnuts that taste just as good but with less sugar and fat'. Pic: Urban Legend

Related tags Urban Legend HFSS Doughnut Graze Fat reduction sugar reduction Sodium reduction Challenger brands Sweet bakery

Urban Legend is the new kid on the block that is shaking up the indulgent snacking sector with its non-HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) doughnut. The UK challenger brand has now appointed boutique branding and design agency Biles Hendry to hit the sweet spot with a hard hitting campaign to underscore its mission.

Urban Legend – founded by Anthony Fletcher, former CEO of better-for-you snack company Graze, which was sold to Unilever in 2019 – made headlines earlier this month with the rollout of a doughnut that is significantly lower in fat, sugar and calories than its competitors, but still packed with the taste and enjoyment of the indulgent version.

The brand sits under parent company Believe in Science – also founded by Fletcher – and employs his belief that cutting-edge science could be used to approach bakery in a new way and solve a ‘clear problem’.

“For hundreds of years, sugar and fat have been the key ingredients in sweet treats and baked goods, so much so it’s almost taken as gospel,”​ said Fletcher.

“Healthier products have been introduced in many categories over the past 10 years, but cakes and baked goods have been left behind – the industry seems to feel it just isn’t possible to keep sweet treats delicious when healthier, you have to sacrifice one for the other.

“I didn’t buy this, so we looked at the challenge with fresh eyes and found food science solutions that meant we could make doughnuts that tasted just as good but with less sugar and fat, using steam cooking and alternatives to sugar found in nature. All the taste and enjoyment but healthier.”

Urban Legend’s doughnuts are sweetened by ‘clever natural flavour combinations to enhance sweetness and cue indulgence’ from roots, pears, leaves and melon. They also contain no artificial colours, gaining these from flowers, plants and vegetables including safflower and beetroot.

Fletcher also partnered with a team of UK bakers and scientists, including Dr Chris Holland, senior lecturer in natural materials at Sheffield University, to investigate the use of novel starch and protein technologies to ‘set’ the dough by steam rather than fried in oil.

According to the producer, a micro layer of fat is deposited on the outside of the doughnut, which retains the taste and texture of a product that has been deep fried with ‘barely any of saturated fat being added to the product’.

The resulting doughnuts boast 57% less sugar, 52% saturated fat and 44% less fat than its competitors currently on the market, with less than 160 calories per treat.

Bringing sweet bakery up to speed

Urban Legend has now appointed Biles Hendry to tease out the brand’s full potential and spread its hard hitting message.

The London-based agency was one of the youngest companies to be listed among the Design Business Associates’ Top 20 most effective design agencies in the world, and has extensive experience working with clients like Mondelez, Nestle, Ella’s Kitchen and Unilever.

Biles Hendry’s creative director Anthony Biles said, “Anthony Fletcher has been a fantastic client to work with, a true innovator and inspiration for our team. We’ve created this brand from the ground up, teasing out everything from strategy to brand identity, naming, messaging, packaging and store concepts. A big shout out to the team at 20:20 who helped realise the store designs. We couldn’t be happier with the result and we believe this brand will turn heads.”

Earlier this month, Urban Legend opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Brighton. Fletcher grew up in south coast town and believes it is the ideal place to drum up excitement.

“It’s a beautiful city full of people who embrace change, are up for trying new things, and it’s home to some fiercely independent, forward thinking challenger brands,”​ he said.

The doughnuts are also available through Deliveroo and UberEats in North London, with expansion anticipated shortly to other locations across London and retailers nationwide.

The Urban Legend range taps into the latest trends with five variants:

  • Glazy Days – vanilla iced ring doughnuts topped with vanilla seeds
  • Fool’s Gold – caramel doughnuts dusted in caramel crunch with bronze nuggets
  • Forbidden Forest – berry iced doughnuts with a dark cookie crumb
  • Sunny Jim – lemon drizzle doughnuts with lemon crunch and white iced drizzle
  • Choc Party – chocolate doughnuts with a dark cookie crumb and white iced drizzle

The doughnuts have an RRP of £1.95 and can be bought in boxes of three or 12.

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