CLIENT OF THE WEEK: How a sea-dog became sexy. Chris Pomfret explains to Mairi Clark why APL had to overhaul Birds Eye’s work

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.

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

UK.



The switch was the first time he’d moved out of the ice-cream division

since joining Unilever straight from Southampton University 26 years

ago.



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

then marketing.



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

core values.’



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