Imagine this for an advertising pitch: “We get this old bloke with a white beard to run around in a sailor suit, with a bunch of kids, fending off pirates and the like, but – here’s the clever bit – the pirates are scared of the kids because they’ve been eating fish fingers.”
In the marketing-aware 21st century, it may not have got past the ideas stage – perhaps being rejected because someone else had pitched an ad where a bunch of kids stuff their mouths as full of fish fingers as they can, and then proceed to spit them out all over each other. However, creatives in the 1950s weren’t as well-trained as they are today, so they had to resort to such cheap gimmicks as Captain Birds Eye to make food attractive to children.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Captain’s Fish Fingers, Unilever is launching “Wish Fingers”, an on-pack promotion that will see the brand give away 50 wishes to the winners of its competition. Looking at the prizes on offer (family holidays, birthday parties, recording your own pop song), it would seem that Birds Eye is under the illusion that children make up the core of its customers. But given the fact that fish-finger sandwiches have been the staple diet of generations of impoverished students, the Diary suggests that bringing back the student grant, or lowering the price of beer at the union bar, should be added to the prize list.