50 Years of Fame: Brandfame - Oxo

The humble Oxo cube is one of the select band of 24 advertisers that ran spots on ITV's opening night in 1955.

Fifty years of commitment to TV advertising and a consistent message putting Oxo at the heart of family life have helped the brand secure 49% of the UK stocks and bouillon market, despite the dramatically changing eating habits of the British public.

ITV has been the mainstay of Oxo's ad strategy, which continues to drive everyday usage and grow brand share. A 1988 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards paper went so far as to conclude that 'the brand would die without advertising' - and quickly.

The Oxo brand began life as a liquid beef extract, before the penny Oxo cube was launched in 1910. Used by athletes, explorers and the armed forces in two world wars, it went on to become an essential cooking ingredient.

The first ITV commercial, 'Millions of cubes', echoed the brand's wartime role, with a stream of animated cubes marching behind their leader, who carried an Oxo banner.

It was the 'Katie' campaign, launched in 1958 and featuring the actress Mary Holland, that revamped Oxo's image and helped tie the brand to family life. Over the next 18 years, a series of ads tracked the life of Katie and her husband Philip while cleverly promoting new uses for the cubes.

In 1983 the appearance of the 'Oxo family', featuring Lynda Bellingham as mum and Michael Redfern as dad, accompanied by a motley collection of typically unruly kids, represented the debut of 'soap opera' advertising on UK screens. The end of the campaign 16 years later sparked a nationwide media debate about the state of the family in Britain.

The 'Oxo family' was brought back in September 2002 to support the release of the herbs and spices range, reflecting changing culinary tastes. The current campaign aims to re-educate consumers about the benefits of using Oxo cubes to pep up everyday dishes from spaghetti bolognese to stir fries.

'TV advertising has ensured that the Oxo brand has remained front-of-mind for more than 50 years,' says the brand's UK marketing director, Tim Perman. 'Despite changes in the traditional family structure and food consumption, consumers have a strong emotional connection with the family unit and family mealtimes. The enduring "family" theme to its TV advertising has made Oxo one of the strongest brands at creating that connection.'

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