If you’re reading this article, the chances are that when it comes to Pot Noodle, you are a “Bargepoler” – one of the 33 per cent of the UK population who will never touch a Pot Noodle snack.
Bargepolers tend to be ignorant of Pot Noodle’s success – it is now a 100m brand, making it bigger than Oxo or Fairy Liquid – and the fact that it has entered the world of teenage cool.
Pot Noodle has always grappled with two key markets with very different perspectives: broadly, the teenagers who eat it and their mums who buy it. To succeed, Pot Noodle communication has to cater to these two different needs: teenagers’ desire to assert their independence (requiring edgy communication for the brand to have real street-cred) and “gatekeeper” mothers’ reluctance to buy something for their kids that must be thoroughly “bad” for them.
The solution was to have these two opposite points of view actually fight each other using different executions, different characters and different media. “Terry and Ned Noodle” is a campaign that goes beyond integration to a new concept – “dis-integration”.
In 1995, a Welsh Pot Noodle eater, Terry, and his friend John, aired their first home video on TV. Terry was angry, because through his door had come a leaflet, from a character called Ned Noodle, claiming that his “gorgeous” Pot Noodle was nutritionally sound or, as Terry put it, “fibrous” and “like leaves”. Reality mirrored Terry’s experience in each case as the campaign developed – Ned Noodle appeared leading aerobic work-outs on leaflets and posters, in health clubs and in shopping centres.
Figures from Millward Brown International shows the campaign has an awareness index of 35 among teenagers. A pre-test on the most recent ads (featuring Roger Black), conducted by Research International, shows that “purchase intention” scores among gatekeeper mothers have increased from 3.09 to 4.22 on a five-point scale.
All the indications are that the advertising is working exactly as intended. The campaign has managed to change the way Pot Noodle is perceived as a brand.
In the past year, Pot Noodle has had to face three major own-label launches, and two price increases. Yet it has managed to hike its market share (not many 20-year-old packaged goods brands have a 95 per cent volume share of their market) and value sales have grown by a further ten per cent.
IRI Infoscan has used econometric analysis to isolate the different elements of the marketing mix in driving off-shelf sales of Pot Noodle. Its model has established that the Terry and Ned Noodle advertising has boosted sales in the short term by an extra 7m, and is ten times as effective as previous advertising.
Since HHCL & Partners first began working on the brand Pot Noodle has grown as never before, and perceptions of it as a brand have been transformed.
But the best demonstration of its recent metamorphosis is that the brand has, quite literally, gone from being the butt of Jasper Carrot’s jokes to being a brand Noel Gallagher claims to love more than his brother (quoted in Smash Hits).
COMPANY: CPC (UK)
Marketing manager: gareth eyles-owen
AGENCY: HHCL & PARTNERS
Account director: ian priest
Creatives: dominic beardsworth/ john parkin
Planner: mary stow