Ambrosia takes a mole on a balloon ride with first TV ad in four years

Campaign for custard brand is created by McCann London.

Ambrosia: ad features a mole who loves custard on his raspberries
Ambrosia: ad features a mole who loves custard on his raspberries

Premier Foods is bringing its dessert brand Ambrosia back to TV for the first time since 2016 with a campaign from McCann London that introduces a new animal character, Moley, who goes on an unexpected aerial adventure over the brand’s home county of Devon.

The ad – soundtracked by All I Have To Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers – sees the subterranean critter grabbing on to a passing balloon and floating past two women enjoying a picnic, at which point Moley takes the opportunity to swipe a freshly picked raspberry through a pot of custard in the process of being poured. It ends with the long-running line “Devon knows how they make it so creamy”.

The campaign was created by Jenna Morrissey and Roanna Stallard, and directed by Johnny & Will through Blinkink, while the character of Moley, who is brought to life using robotics, was created by John Nolan Studio.

It launches today (1 December) and is initially set to run until March on TV and VOD with a media spend of £2.5m. But Yilmaz Erceyes, chief marketing officer at Premier Foods, said the execution was likely to continue appearing on TV for several years.

“My view is usually marketers get tired of their own ideas a lot quicker than consumers do,” Erceyes told Campaign. “When a campaign does a good job of building awareness and building the brand, we can run it longer [than campaigns typically run].

“We obviously keep checking if the campaign is still effective. And as soon as we see it starts to dip on effectiveness, then we will refresh the campaign, but many of our campaigns we find that we can run multiple years.”

The Mr Kipling campaign “Little thief”, also by McCann, was launched in March 2018 and has been on TV every other week since this spring. It is finally set to be replaced with a new execution next year, though Ereyes said that “our current effectiveness assessment says it's still doing pretty well”.

Like many grocery brands, Ambrosia benefited from a boost at the start of the year when the spectre of lockdown was looming. Its sales in the first 12 weeks of the year were up 20% year-on-year, according to Nielsen data. Over the six months from April to September, Premier Foods’ total sales were up 15% to £422m, and its adjusted profit before tax grew by half to £47.7m.

The opportunity to further grow Ambrosia lies in increasing its penetration among consumers, Erceyes said. Currently, it is bought by 12 million households, or 44% of those in the UK.

As with many canned and ambient food brands, it’s less popular with younger consumers, but Erceyes insisted there was still an opportunity to grow the brand among those under 35, who make up 10% of the consumer base, or more than a million households – and said that to do so meant making sure the brand was “seen as relevant across demographics, in different usage locations”.

On the creative idea, Erceyes said that “at the centre of the thinking is bringing back what made Ambrosia famous in the first place".

He added: "We really believe in having those brand distinctive assets – strapline, tone of voice, visuals – to really build on, because it's all about creating those memory structures in consumers mind. So whenever the need arises, our brand just becomes top of their mind.”