United Biscuits pumps £12m into McVitie’s brand to ‘awaken sleeping giant’

United Biscuits is to launch a £12m campaign to back its masterbrand strategy that will see all of its sweet biscuit brands fall under the McVitie’s umbrella. 

McVitie's ad
United Biscuits launches £12m campaign to make McVitie’s a masterbrand.

The quirky campaign, the biscuit makers’ biggest investment in media, highlights the occasions in the day when its biscuits are eaten and the feeling people get from eating them.

One Grey London created spot for Digestives shows a family settling down to relax with a biscuit before a Corgi puppy emerges when the packet is unwrapped. Another for Chocolate Digestives sees a group of nurses settling down for a tea break and being confronted by kittens when they reach for the biscuits, while a third for Jaffa Cakes shows a young man confronted with a Tarsier when opening a pack (see ads below).

The TV campaign is supported by GreyPossible created digital activity, including the launch of a new McVitie’s website, social media and press. The campaign will also see an extensive in-store campaign created by Dialogue London.  

The McVitie’s logo features prominently in all executions and all packaging has been redesigned to give the name more prominence. Brands including Club and Penguin will be brought under McVitie’s later this year.

It is hoped the ‘family of brands’ strategy will create a halo effect and boost sales across the portfolio.

United Biscuits wants the campaign to help it achieve its ambitious target of claiming a 30 per cent of the sweet biscuit market for McVitie’s, up from the 21 per cent it enjoys at the moment by capturing more of the 7 billion “biscuit occasions” it says take place in the UK every year.

United Biscuits is said to be the subject of interest from Chinese private equity group Hony Capital, which The Daily Telegraph reported last month was interested in buying the company from Blackstone and PAI Partners.

The company has been restructuring operations to create a more streamlined business. Last year, it sold off its KP Snacks unit for a reported £500m.

The changes are being overseen by former Birds Eye boss and Marketing Society president Martin Glenn who became chief executive in April 2014.

At an event in London to mark the launch of the campaign, Glenn said the relaunch of McVitie’s is an example of how the company is “re-energising” to “take our place on the world stage”.

The firm plans to employ the same masterbrand strategy to Jacob’s later this year , with savoury brands such as Cheddars and Mini Cheddars joining the likes of Cream Crackers under the Jacob’s name.

Ads break tonight (3 February).





McVitie’s marketing director Sarah Heynen talks to Marketing Week about the strategy behind the new campaign and masterbrand plan.

Marketing Week: Why have you chosen a masterbrand strategy?

Sarah Heynen: [Although awareness is not low] we can do so much more to raise the profile of Mcvitie’s. It’s a strong property but we want to drive the fame and drive the love for Mcvitie’s. Not because we have a problem but because we can do so much more with it. By having a masterbrand campaign with the brands sitting within it brings everything together much better than individual brand campaigns, which I think would feel quite dissonant.

Our historical advertising has been OK but it hasn’t had the impact or cut through. The halo affect and cut through should now be greater [having adopted McVitie’s as the masterbrand].

MW: Is bringing McVitie’s to the fore about differentiating from own brand supermarket biscuits?

SH: We own Digestives and Chocolate Digestives but Mcvitie’s is a sleeping giant. We can do such much more with it. We can make it more salient than it has been historically. It’s not about own brands. We have a brand with fantastic heritage. We need to unlock that potential.

MW: What are you trying to say about each of the brands in the ads?

SH: We are trying to convey the feeling you get when eating a Mcvitie’s biscuit and beneath that the feeling you get when eating each individual type of biscuit. With Digestives, it’s the crumbly cuddle , the arm around the shoulder – the warmth you get when eating a biscuit. Chocolate Digestives are a chocolaty snuggle and Jaffa Cake’s and its zesty orange centre is about zesty mischief.

We want to build that sense of the family of feeling you get from our biscuits as quick as possible by running three ads together.

As the campaign grows you will see each individual brand communicate a different feeling.

MW: What are the objectives for the campaign?

SH: We want to drive growth and drive share. Create some brand momentum, boost awareness and make sure McVitie’s is modern and up to date. We will complete a full econometric review at the end of the year.



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