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‘It was a dream brief’: the story behind that ‘Wagatha Christie’ print ad by Butterkist

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By Amy Houston | Reporter

May 24, 2022 | 6 min read

The Drum caught up with St Luke’s creative director Richard Denney and Starcom’s commercial display director Nick Brown to get the lowdown on Butterkist’s print ad that tapped into the nation’s obsession with the ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial.

No stranger to inserting itself into the drama, Butterkist is beginning to get a reputation for using trending news stories within its promotional efforts – and social media users have been lapping it up. From last year’s billboard stunt outside 10 Downing Street amid the ‘partygate’ scandal to last week weighing in on the ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial involving footballers’ wives Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, the treat is proving it has its finger on the pulse.

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Butterkist’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ courtroom sketch in The Metro

The brief

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In the UK, it is illegal to take photographs or videos inside courts, therefore news organizations often commission court sketches. With this in mind, the snack brand cheekily spoofed the ‘Wagatha Christie’ drawings by reimagining the scene with all the captivated attendees munching on Butterkist popcorn.

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“We really want to go after crisps and chocolate for shared snacking moments beyond the movie night, so getting into new occasions is key,” says Denney. “It’s about drama, comedy, action, romance and any culturally relevant moments (beyond the silver screen too), as demonstrated by the brilliant memes people use on social media when something entertaining kicks off in the news.”

The artist behind the now-viral drawing is Miras from the creative agency Stage One, who initially gave St Luke’s a few options to choose from.

“A great idea is nothing unless it actually happens, and some of these opportunities arrive and disappear so quickly, so you have to be on it,” added Denney. “It’s real newsroom mentality. We have a WhatsApp group, are constantly sharing thoughts and are always out hunting for opportunities and mining for gold. It’s pure entertainment and that’s what Butterkist is all about.”

It’s a close-knit team, there’s a lot of trust and a hell of a lot of fun – as you can probably imagine. “It’s a proper laugh working with the team,” says Denney.

“Almost student-like in the freedom you have to go out there and grab attention.”

The medium

For this campaign, the media used was as important as the creative – it had to be a print ad. “The papers are all over #WagathaChristie, with the courtroom drawings themselves causing as much entertainment as the case itself,” noted Denney.

So, how do you buy a contextual print ad around a breaking news story? “Newspapers love the opportunity to run reactive activity because they get PR benefits and it looks great on the printed page, which makes them very amenable to work with,” added Brown. “We want to ensure that it is timely (not too late, not too early) and the content is placed well within or at least in proximity to the story/moment/event that the brand is reacting to. Having that contextual placement also ensures that anyone not already aware of the news story can make the connection really easily.”

Editorial placement was key to this activation, and The Metro was a no-brainer for the brand as its readers are “younger and fast-paced, looking for the key headlines and news highlights, so it was a good fit for the Butterkist audience. Metro also do a lot of reactive activity, which makes them really easy to work with.”

The reception

Up and down the country, people have been gripped by the absurdity of the ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial. “The nation loves this sort of shit and you only have to look at the amount of reality TV to understand why,” says Denney. “As someone commented on social media, it should have been by a penalty shoot-out.”

Courtroom antics aside, the reactive nature of the Butterkist campaign is something that people enjoy as more often than not it can bring some comical relief to trending stories. “Think of ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ – just like that brilliant brand line, we want it to become part of the vernacular too,” concludes Denney.

“We have to be as entertaining and imaginative as the content we are joining itself, otherwise we won’t get picked up and shared. It’s a dream brief for any creative department.”

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