United Biscuits unwraps McVitie’s biggest shopper marketing push to elevate whole range

United Biscuits McVitie’s is spending its biggest shopper marketing outlay on a campaign aimed at securing more shelf space in-stores by making the brand’s penchant for showing adorable creatures emerging from biscuit boxes a reality.

The biscuit maker knows its audience. So much so that it believes its decision to give away furry versions of the cute animals from its ads will sell more than 35 million packets over the next six months.

Fans have a one in ten chance of winning a cuddly toy, dubbed “sweet friend” for those adult biscuit lovers, when they text a code on the inside of wrappers. Some 29 different McVitie’s biscuits and cakes will carry the Grey Shopper-created promotion that starts in Tesco today (11 February) and peaks in April when it will launch in Sainsbury's as part of the retailer’s Comic Relief activity.

The scale of the on-pack push combined with in-store media amounts to around half of the campaign’s budget. McVitie’s hopes the investment can spark new interest to an aisle that usually has low interest as it looks to secure more shelf space for its non-core biscuits such as BN and Hobnobs. While last year was about getting people to notice the McVitie’s masterbrand, this year focuses on bringing the lesser known biscuits in the range to the fore.

Sarah Heynen, marketing director for United Biscuits, told The Drum that it would be paying close attention to the rate of sales during the campaign versus the rate of redemption of the offer.

“We are expecting strong levels of redemption from our consumers given the number of requests we've had from them over the last year asking for the opportunity to receive their own Sweeet friend characters,” added Heynen.

“We are also expecting strong sales in store driven by the £3m TTL campaign and the wider programme of activation we have running throughout this campaign.”

Giveaways are an admittedly unusual approach for McVitie’s and the wider biscuit category. However the promotional mechanic was the perfect way to link in-store creative to the brand’s popular TV ads, where cute animals are used to convey the “sweet” appeal of the biscuit category, to stores, added Heynen.

A new ad develops the theme, playfully incorporating the cuddly toys from the on-pack promotion. Set to the theme of classic series “Murder She Wrote”, the 20-second ad sees a pair of window cleaners staring longingly at the toys on the other side of a window they’re washing.

The ad forms a key part of a campaign plan similar to the one McVitie’s employed last year that generated 87 per cent ROI on media spend. Social will play a slightly bigger role this time round with those fans who were the most vocal about the animals this time last year set to receive special shout outs online.

The campaign marks the start of United Biscuits' first full year under the ownership of Turkish food manufacturer Yildiz Holding. It has transformed the business into the world’s third largest biscuit maker through a deal that will look to leverage Yildiz Holding’s reach to push both the McVitie’s and Jacob’s into new markets.

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