McCain is to infiltrate the nation's Christmas pantomimes by ensuring its new Chips, Glorious Chips advertising theme, based on Food, Glorious Food from Oliver!, is sung in every big UK panto.
The song is central to a £20 million campaign from Beattie McGuinness Bungay. The all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza promotes Oven Chips and Homefries and will launch next week.
Trevor Beattie, the agency's founder, spent a month rewriting Lionel Bart's song. The new lyrics push the message McCain's products are healthier than consumers might expect - they are made from potatoes and sunflower oil and Oven Chips contain only 5 per cent fat.
The campaign includes two 60-second epics, that will break this month on TV and will appear in cinemas throughout the autumn. The ads, which employ a cast of 120 dancers, acrobats and singers, were directed by Michael Gracey and Pete Cummins. Gracey is a stage musical director, who worked alongside the director Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge.
BMB is in the final stages of negotiations to write the song into major Christmas pantos. Special scenes will be incorporated into the shows, giving the actors the chance to conduct a Chips, Glorious Chips singalong. McCain plans to use the pantos for additional promotional activity, such as voucher distribution.
Beattie said: "Having established our message via mass-media, the panto project will enable us to talk directly to our comfortably seated audience, with laser-targeting of mums and kids."
Simon Eyles, the head of communications at McCain, said the strategy was conceived against the threat of the junk-food ad ban.
"We had to really go for it with a breakthrough approach," he said.
- Comment, page 52.