Poor old Captain Birds Eye. After celebrating his 30th anniversary
as the nation’s favourite salty old sea-dog, he has been pensioned off
in favour of a younger, more glamorous model.
But the move by Birds Eye is not as uncharitable as it first seems,
according to Chris Pomfret, the company’s business director for frozen
foods. ’We changed the current campaign, probably the longest-standing
campaign with one idea, because the actor who played the captain wanted
to retire. Also we felt that perhaps today’s children may watch some of
the adventures in the recent series without relating to them or wanting
to get involved,’ he says.
Pomfret praises Ammirati Puris Lintas, who came up with the original
captain theme and also invented the younger, sexier version. ’The only
way that you can make a fundamental change in a campaign is if there is
total trust between the agency and the client,’ he says.
APL has looked after Captain Birds Eye since its original conception in
1967. At 48, Pomfret is a little newer to the scene. He joined the
frozen foods division of Unilever from its ice-cream division in
Rotterdam last year, after expressing a desire to return to work in the
The switch was the first time he’d moved out of the ice-cream division
since joining Unilever straight from Southampton University 26 years
He’s a little reluctant to admit he studied the dry subject of
accountancy at university, which he then put into practice during a
three-year spell at Unilever. From there, he moved first into PR and
And Pomfret insists the new captain does not signal a repositioning of
the Birds Eye brand or Captain Birds Eye as ’sexy’.
He explains: ’In the end, I want the Birds Eye brand to stand for great
food that people want to eat. But it may be, as an agency said to me the
other day, that it’s a little dusty. So we needed a more contemporary
image. We will change a number of aspects of the brand, but never its