Britain. Bread. Boy. When Danny Brooke-Taylor, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy's executive creative director, pitched these ingredients to the Hovis client and brought them almost to tears, he must have known he'd nailed it.
To celebrate Hovis' 122nd birthday, MCBD created a 122-second ad to commemorate each year it had baked bread. Simple, yet effective, it resurrected the delivery boy from the brand's 1973 Ridley Scott-directed ad: one of Britain's favourite TV commercials. Not only did the brand have bread heritage, it also had advertising heritage.
Times were pretty desperate, though. Something big needed to happen to halt the steady drop in Hovis' sales. After ten years of decline, it hit a low point in 2006 when Warburtons overtook Hovis as the market leader, and sales fell each month for the two years up to February 2008.
Tiptoeing around a looming recession, Premier Foods, Hovis' holding company, decided to invest £15 million to resuscitate the brand. Part of this campaign involved redesigning the packaging and relaunching the unsliced "little brown loaf".
Relying purely - and single-mindedly - on a TV and cinema campaign, directed by Ringan Ledwidge, MCBD's intention was to create a broadcast event to get Hovis back to the heart of the nation.
The long format ad, "go on lad", follows a boy as he runs through key historic events in Britain carrying a Hovis loaf home, from 1886 to the modern day, to reassert it as a loved, iconic and British brand, with the endline: "As good today as it's always been."
Tapping into British patriotism and nostalgia, Hovis received an instant emotional response from the nation's bread eaters, with sales jumping up by £12 million in the first three weeks after the campaign launched in September during Coronation Street.
Just as with last year's Campaign of the Year winner, Cadbury's "gorilla", debate raged around whether to award a single TV execution, rather than a broader mixed-media campaign. But in a world where campaigns are sometimes stretched across media, particularly the web, with little rationale beyond fashion, Hovis' bold commitment to a big, single-minded TV campaign was refreshing. And it helped generate one of the year's biggest PR campaigns, ensuring the Hovis message spread across media in any case.
Remember the story that Wayne Rooney was going to be the new face of Hovis and star in the commercial? That was just one of the many PR stunts Frankie Cory, the managing director of Frank PR, thought up to ensure the ad itself got an estimated £2.5 million of free publicity, by placing PR hand-in-hand with the creative process.
Two days after the ad broke, Hovis received 400 letters, phone calls and e-mails from viewers saying how much they loved the ad. This has now risen to 858. And on YouTube it has had around 180,000 hits and more than 1,000 comments.
More important than all the noise, the ad has worked. After years of struggling, Hovis has regained its top position, outselling Warburtons in Tesco, with sales figures shooting up by 11 per cent in the past four months, and 14 per cent for the year.
And Millward Brown tracking results from November show that Hovis is now more likely to be talked about than the "norm". Its research found that 86 per cent of consumers felt the brand's message, "As good today as it's always been", was communicated strongly, in contrast to the 52 per cent "norm". Plus, the brand image had improved since the launch by 8 per cent, in terms of it being worth more, and by 6 per cent, for being better quality and tastier than its rivals.
If that doesn't silence the critics, who possibly questioned whether the campaign's price tag was too extravagant and not cost effective, nothing will.
And the Hovis campaign has kicked off a battle of the budgets, with Warburtons raising its game and investing £22 million into a new campaign. This can only be a good thing for adland in the current financial downturn. Let the baker wars begin.
Creme Egg The nature of Cadbury's investment in its Easter product lines means that any work for Creme Egg is, literally, here today and goo-ne tomorrow.
But in a short-lived advertising window, from January to just after Easter, Publicis made the advertising work hard across a variety of media and racked up some impressive sales results - and some extremely inventive ways to make Creme Eggs spill their goo.
The idea was to update the famous "how do you eat yours" work by focusing on the goo-ey bit inside and developing inventive ways in which it can be extracted from the egg - all of which would lend themselves to interactivity.
The eggs made their first appearance in moving bus posters, digital escalator panels and on huge screens in Manchester and London. Then came a slow build of TV work, which by the end totalled 21 films showing eggs buying the farm in comical ways.
These were backed by a mobile "eggs and ladders" game, pages on Bebo, Kate Modern and Weebl & Bob. There was also www.goology.com, which received more than 3.3 million page views. All of this work was brought to a messy conclusion with a final egg-stravaganza that saw 225 eggs destroyed in slow motion by 225 mousetraps. The film notched up 1.23 million views on YouTube in the following weeks and continues to pick up around 5,000 viewings a week.
In the first week of the campaign proper, sales increased by 14.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2007. Throughout the rest of the campaign the rate of sale continued at 11.25 per cent while Creme Eggs outperformed the market by 26.3 per cent. By the end of the campaign, the campaign had earned £5.68 for every pound spent on marketing.
Carling Carling came close behind in third place with the integrated campaign "belong". Using the strapline, "You know who your mates are", Beattie McGuinness Bungay created a funny, strategically spot-on campaign that generated sales of £10.38 for every £1 spent.
Spanning television, cinema, posters, mobile (iPint), online and idents, BMB aimed to put Carling in the centre of every group of mates. "Belong" became BMB's most awarded integrated campaign, with "space" and "out", two of the three television spots that featured a group of mates in different periods of time and space, scooping up various awards this year.
Nike Football Nike Football's brand campaign, "take it to the next level", took fourth place. The two ads, "turning Spanish" and "the next level", as individual pieces are excellent, but as a campaign seemed slightly disconnected. Both ads, created by 72andSunny, focus on motivating footballers to become better.
Guy Ritchie directed the two-minute film "the next level", which is shot from the point of view of a football star. It clocked up eight million views online and won a gold Film Lion at Cannes. The second, "turning Spanish", features the Liverpool footballer Fernando Torres and shows how the city of Liverpool has embraced his Spanish culture.
Recent winners: Cadbury's Dairy Milk (2007); Sony Bravia (2006); Stella Artois (2005); Honda (2004); 118 118 (2003)
January: Following a five-month review, Premier Foods divides its brands between Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy and McCann Erickson.
May: MCBD wins the Hovis brand from McCann Erickson, following a secret pitch.
August: Story is leaked to press that footballer Wayne Rooney will be the new face of Hovis.
8 September: Hovis releases "making-of" film of the MCBD ad.
12 September: Hovis broadcasts its 122-second TV spot to celebrate its 122nd birthday during Coronation Street.
November: Hovis outsells Warburtons in Tesco, with sales figures up by 11 per cent in the past four months, and 14 per cent for the year, on a year-on-year basis.