Birds Eye launches expansive rebrand as Captain Birdseye returns (yes, again)

Captain Birds Eye is making yet another comeback as Birdseye invests £8m in a new TV and rebranding campaign aimed at building long-term affection with the frozen food character among the next generation of British children.

Birds Eye

Set to air from 9 April, the new Birds Eye TV campaign will feature a young boy with a tail, which wags with enthusiasm when he returns home from school to find the brand’s potato waffles, peas and fish fingers for dinner.

In the ad, the boy runs through fields of popping peas – to highlight provenance – and passes through a harbour where Captain Birds Eye’s fishing boat plays a key role in assisting the child’s journey home from school.

Over recent years, Birds Eye has made a habit of refreshing the character – which was first introduced in the 1960s – with the good Captain attempting more comebacks than Madonna. In fact, the character, which has been recast for the new campaign, was brought back only two years ago before being axed once again for being outdated.

Birds Eye’ marketing director Steve Chantry insists things will be different this time around.

He told Marketing Week: “Our expectation is the Captain is now part of our marketing for the long term. This is the first of many appearances of him for this brand on TV going forward.

“He hasn’t been on TV for some time but we have all grown up with him. He is the most iconic asset for our brand. Our desire now is to make him as exciting and relevant for the next generation of children and mums. That’s the challenge.”

Improving the Birds Eye range

The return of Captain Birds Eye comes as Birdseye relaunches 57 of its products with improved quality or bigger pack sizes. The brand refresh will include the new slogan ‘The Birds Eye Difference’, which will be introduced to all packaging and advertising.

Birds Eye has also agreed a new sponsorship deal with Channel 4 for its 6pm tea time weekday slot of The Simpsons. Chantry says The Simpsons tie-up will cover 70% of Birds Eye’s target audience and help media impressions to grow by 60% in 2016.

“Over recent years, our strategy has been about white space innovation launches. But by focusing on innovation, we haven’t been as focused as we’d like on building the brand and product quality. We’ve taken our eye off the core business,” he admitted.

‘Never say never’ approach to online selling

Earlier this month, Francis Nicholas, group head of ecommerce at Birds Eye’s parent company Nomad Foods, revealed that its online business accounted for 11% of sales versus 5% penetration for the total grocery market.

And Chantry said the frozen foods brand is commited to ecommerce and digital media spend, and that it has a ‘never say, never’ approach to the online direct selling model used by the likes of Unilever.

He explained: “We are in the top two brands in the UK for online groceries. It’s huge for us as there’s no concerns about food thawing and a convenience for our customers. We’re still committed to the traditional store experience but you can also establish a brand much earlier online by becoming a part of the favourite’s basket – it means you’re more likely to generate repeat purchases.”

The latest campaign will run in cinema, out of home and also through social media channels. And Chantry says Birds Eye is doubling its digital ad spend in 2016.

He also said the brand is thinking of ways to bring the Captain Birds Eye story to life through virtual reality headsets.

He concluded: “I have seen VR and the tech is awesome so as it becomes scalable it is more exciting for us. What we are keen to do in ecommerce and on digital is to be a thought leader. We have a number of ideas, including VR, where it is our intention to lead the market rather than to follow it so watch this space.”