McVitie’s eyes bite of the Christmas ad biscuit with £1m campaign as master brand strategy pays off

United Biscuits-owned brand McVitie’s is set to launch its first Christmas ad campaign in over three decades, after the launch of its £12m master brand strategy, which has seen it snatch 30 per cent of the total biscuit market in 2014 for the first time.

The £1m campaign for its Victoria biscuit selection, which premieres tonight (4 December) on E4, is the latest addition to the McVitie’s Sweet advertising campaign, following ads for McVitie’s digestives, BN and Jaffa Cakes, and aims to stand out from the crowd of Christmas campaigns flooding the ad space.

Speaking to the Drum at a launch event for the ad earlier this week, United Biscuits Sweet Biscuits marketing director, Sarah Heynen, said the decision to hold off launching the campaign until December was a “strategic” decision, both to see better cut-through and to tap into consumer biscuit buying habits.

“It [the advert] is very distinctive to anything else that’s out there, and going slightly later than John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, I think we will really stand out from the crowd. They are iconic and always tend to go out in the middle of November.

“For us biscuit sales really ramp up in the two to three weeks before Christmas so it makes sense to line up our media activity with the thrust of when consumers buy. And also the stand out will be that much greater as a lot of the seasonal ads have already started to go from their 70-second to 60-second 30-second ads, whereas we’re going to stick with 60-seconds right the way through [the campaign].

The advert, created by Grey London, shows a family relaxing in front of the TV at Christmas, when a host of animals, including an Alaskan Malamute puppy, a micro piglet, a Persian kitten, a rabbit, a duckling, a ginger kitten, a Pug and a hedgehog emerge from a pack of McVitie’s Victoria biscuits singing a rendition of Yazoo’s 80s hit, Only You.

The thinking behind the campaign is a continuation of the previous four ads released this year, which all featured animals, and aims to iterate that there is “something for everyone” in the product, according to Heyman.

It is hoped the ad will “keep the momentum” going that the master brand strategy has initiated and also help form a year-round conversation with McVitie’s consumers, an opportunity the brand has historically not capitalised on.

“We relaunched McVitie’s in February with the new master brand strategy and the response has been phenomenal. We are capitalising on that, keeping the momentum going and making sure that dialogue is year-round with the consumer and keeping the relationship fresh.

“There aren’t many consumer brands that advertise at Christmas, it is mainly retailers, so I think for McVities to be one of the few FMCG brands advertising at Christmas is also quite a difference for us.”

Over the coming months McVities will look to experiment and test ideas for digital advertising, which currently only accounts for 10 per cent of its ad spend, in a bid to build up “a bank of knowledge” in the space.

“We want to do a bit of test and learn next year and experiment. Some things will work, I’m sure, and some things won’t, but we want to build up our bank of knowledge in the digital area and just see what is the right role and how far we want to spread that digital presence.”

Currently that presence covers homepage take-overs and social media spend, with no immediate plans to enter the programmatic ad space.

Spend on the brand will continue to rise, revealed Heyman, after McVitie's this year spent 50 per cent more than "ever before" with an increase of 30 per cent planned for 2015.

"We know what our utopian investment looks like and we will get there in the next three to four years," she added.

The McVitie’s master brand is now home to all United Biscuits’ sweet brands, with the exception of go ahead!, while all of United Biscuit’s savoury brands, including Cheddars and Mini Cheddars, were rebranded as Jacob’s.

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