CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Maltesers shows lighter touch - Bob Morrison is hoping to produce a less contrived strategy

When Bob Morrison started work on Mars’ Maltesers brand five years ago, the company was already running advertising of classic status. Well, of cult classic status anyway.

When Bob Morrison started work on Mars’ Maltesers brand five years

ago, the company was already running advertising of classic status.

Well, of cult classic status anyway.



The ad in question was so bad it was positively good. It featured a

svelte ballerina protesting in a whiny voice that ’the theatre is full

but I am not’, before popping a couple of the sweet, spherical

confections into her mouth and, thus refreshed, embarking with renewed

vigour on her performance.



’I still run into people who can recite that ad word for word,’ laughs

Morrison, now the European brand and development director at Mars. ’But

in truth, perhaps the advertising we were doing for Maltesers in the

past was too forced and contrived.’



The same accusation could hardly be levelled at the current crop of

ads.



Last week’s offering of a man and woman saucily feeding each other

Maltesers off a straw marks a continued shift in direction ushered in by

the brand and its agency, DMB&B, last year.



’We really started this shift of direction in the middle of last year

with the ad showing two girls playing around on the floor with the UFO

machine,’ Morrison says.



’In fact, we have now produced six executions in all since then. We

wanted to make the brand great fun - a bit silly but in a nice way. The

point is we always had the line, ’the lighter way to enjoy chocolate’,

and we still use it. But it’s only now that we have really got the film

to match the slogan.’



The new, more light-hearted films have also started to play well in

Europe.



Morrison says: ’I was really surprised because they seemed to me like

archetypal British humour, but we have started to test the ads in Europe

and they seem to work really well.



’In fact, a Greek version has now launched as well as one in Ireland -

the first time the brand has advertised there for years.’



Even more surprising, perhaps, is the fact that the sea change made to

the campaign since the days of the hapless ballerina has been made with

the same agency, DMB&B. ’Changing the agency is not always the easiest

way to change the advertising emphasis,’ Morrison says.



’The fact is that creatives will get excited by ideas, and ideas are the

lifeblood of brands. We don’t believe in product life-cycles at

Mars.



Maltesers has been going since 1936 and has a 99 per cent brand

awareness. Our job is to keep the brand interesting and relevant.’



Morrison makes similar demands of his career development. Having gained

a degree in the esoteric and wide-ranging subject of ergonomics at

Loughborough University, Morrison completed a brief stint at BP before

moving to HJ Heinz. He initially ran a factory for Heinz before turning

to marketing and then moving to Mars five years ago.