McVitie's £12m media campaign set to "awaken a sleeping giant", claims marketing director Sarah Heynen

“We believe that McVitie's is a sleeping giant and hopefully, what you’re going to see is that we are going to wake that giant up,” stated United Biscuits marketing director Sarah Heynen at the launch of the company’s new £12m advertising campaign, which will aim to help revitalise the company over the next three years.

New McVitie's campaign

Speaking at Century Soho, near Leicester Square, Heynen took to the stage after the company’s CEO, Martin Glenn revealed the plan to grow the business’ international sales to 20 per cent in three years, with the new campaign driving the brand restructure which will aim to see biscuit brand McVitie's become a global mega-brand.

“Biscuits can be a great way of signifying a moment’s break; they can be a mood enhancer, they can make a social moment that little bit better. So biscuits are trivial but they are very important as small things make a different. That insight was immensely powerful thought behind the advertising,” said Glenn as he outlined the company’s view of its sector.

Another target for the growth of the company is to develop both the Jacobs and McVitie's brands going forward, beginning with the latter – and that will include sweet biscuit sub brands such as Digestives, Chocolate Digestives and Jaffa Cakes to begin with.

Heynen described the McVitie's brand as “a national treasure” and claimed that it is part of everyone’s everyday lives.

“Our ambition with McVitie's is that we are going to grow it into a mega-brand and that really means taking it from a top 10 to a top five grocery food brand with a 30 per cent share. And we also want to make McVitie's famous, distinctive and loved.

“The shift in our strategy to make McVitie's a new mega-brand will see us move to a new master brand strategy which basically means that we are moving from supporting a number of separate brands, with separate investment to putting our resources behind one bigger master brand, McVitie's. Creating a master brand means that there needs to be a strong connecting thread across everything we do, especially our packaging and advertising. It also means that we should get a better return as we get better cut-through and a halo effect across the wider McVitie's portfolio.

"However, there are some famous brands within the McVitie's family, so it’s also important that we strike the right balance in our package and our advertising, between our master brand and letting the individual shine through.”

With sweet and savoury brands split, savoury sub brands will be led by the Jacobs master brand, she explains, a distinctive design has also been created for the master brand.

“Successful master brands use ownable shapes, structures and colours to give a consistent range identity, so we are going to do exactly that. We are going to take our ownable shape, which is based on an ear of wheat, and we are going to use that across all of our brands together with a bigger McVitie's logo. And over time, that will create a really strong visual which will be instantly recognised as McVitie's,” she continued.

“Our third step in building a McVitie's master brand is new advertising. This is based on the universal truth that biscuits are utterly trivial yet they are immensely powerful. Imagine a world without biscuits. It would be such a cold, sad place. Eating a biscuit is not a big thing but it is an important part of our lives and one which we would really miss if we couldn’t have them.”

The new campaign, which features three TV adverts that include cute puppies, kittens and a Tarsier monkey, will be expected to drive social conversations and shares for the company, with extra content being seeded out to extend the life of those conversations. In-store activity will also be utilised, as will a digital campaign which will include homepage takeovers.

“We wanted a big fame-driving idea and no one has ever seen any advertising quite like this” Heynen told The Drum while discussing the new brand strategy.

“The new advertising builds on the idea that McVitie's biscuits really do make the day go that little bit better,” she added.

“The new advertising moves away from communicating what McVitie's biscuits do, to how they make you feel. ‘Sweeet’ – this is the expression and the feeling that we get from eating a McVitie's biscuit and it’s what links all elements of the master brand campaign together. The idea was developed by our newly appointed advertising agency Grey London. It’s a big, surprising idea and one that will really get us noticed, get us talked about and set us on a journey to becoming famous again.”

Meanwhile, Matthew Brown, brand director for McVitie's, revealed the thinking behind the emotional engagement that the company hopes each advert will create for their respective brand and how those feelings are manifested through each of the different animals: Chocolate Digestives provide a ‘chocolatey snuggle‘, Digestives have a ‘crumbly cuddle‘, and 'zesty mischief’ is what represents a Jaffa Cake. The company has yet to decide other descriptions for their brands such as Hob Nobs, Penguins and Rich Tea as of yet.

The campaign will run throughout 2014, although the initial burst will be an activity spanning six months before it is reviewed ahead of a second run after summer.

Also involved developing the campaign, which goes live today (Monday 3 February) is MEC Global and 3 Monkey Communications.

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