CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/YORKIE - Yorkie goes all out to reclaim some male territory. Masculinity fights back in the latest ad campaign for Yorkie, Jeremy White writes

Trevor Beattie, the chairman and creative director of TBWA/London, reviewed the latest Boddingtons ad in Campaign last month. He didn't like it very much. The reason for his displeasure clearly stemmed from the spot's less-than-complimentary view of the average male.

Speaking of the dropping of Graham The Cow, Beattie mused: "They've made the predictable switch from putting down cattle to putting down blokes. Welcome to the herd."

Beattie's referring to the plethora of ads that have recently been firmly positioned at selling to women by putting down men, such as Lambrini, Reef and Archers.

Now there's campaign that aims to silence the sniping of the sirens, redress the balance and strike a blow for blokes across the land. But what brand will reaffirm the British manhood? A lager surely? No, unlikely as it seems, it's a chocolate bar. It's Yorkie.

"There's a whole series of ads out there at the moment that see women getting the lead on men in one way or another. I think it's time for us to turn this around,

Andrew Harrison, Nestle Rowntree's marketing director, cries.

So Nestle has brought out the big guns and decided to relaunch Yorkie, its chunky chocolate bar made famous by the iconic trucker ads in the 70s.

"Traditional confectionery advertising has focused on appealing to women - with women indulging their love of chocolate, in the bath, walking through poppy fields, images of swirling milk and cream.

"This campaign is very different. The new campaign is staking out territory for Yorkie as a brand for men - or as we prefer to say, a brand not for girls,

Harrison continues.

Peter Davis, Nestle's media controller, adds that other countlines such as Mars slimming down its bar size after fears that consumers saw the brand as fattening have set up the field for Yorkie's return brilliantly.

"Mars going a bit feminine has played into our hands a bit,

he says.

Yorkie, with its familiar truck driver ads, has always been the most masculine of chocolate bars. The last major campaign may have dropped the trucker in favour of a pastiche on the feature film The Fugitive - but it was still aimed squarely at men. So the new campaign is hardly a repositioning, but Nestle still has to "stake out territory

simply because it hasn't advertised on TV for six years.

So Harrison is unleashing a multimedia campaign designed to reach men in the 16- to 34-year-old age group. Five weeks of TV, including sponsorship of BSkyB's Soccer AM, will be accompanied by press ads in the lads' mags such as FHM and Loaded until June. Radio and web activity is also planned.

"Yorkie has always been a brand for blokes - the trucker was a very male brand. Over the past five to ten years a lot of the areas that used to be male dominated, pubs, curries, even strip clubs, are now enjoyed by women as well. Few areas of life are the sole preserve of men,

Harrison says.

"By contrast, the chocolate area has always been dominated by women. So, after a decade, it's time for men to encroach on women's territory for a change. There's plenty of chocolate brands out there for women - but this is for the men and I think we'll have some fun with it."

But before "outraged of Chatham

has a chance to write in, Harrison adds: "We are very clear that this is supposed to be fun. It's a humorous campaign and not meant for strict interpretation. We are going to do this with a lightness of touch that throws down a challenge to women rather than alienating them."

After all, Harrison believes, recent cultural history proves that women's response to being told something is not for them is to demonstrate otherwise as quickly as possible.

"We said they can't drink pints or watch football - that it's too big and has too many calories,

he points out. Hopefully women will take the Yorkie bait in the same way. This strategy allows Nestle the neat trick of indulging in an unashamedly male-orientated campaign while supposedly pitching itself at both sexes. It's an interesting, if optimistic, strategy.

"It's only a chocolate bar at the end of the day. Don't take it too literally,

Harrison concludes, with refreshing honesty.

Jo Blackburn, the account director on Yorkie at J. Walter Thompson, says: "It's great we've been able to move on from trucker. Yorkie's a small brand compared to Kit Kat and Aero, but in research everyone remembers the trucker. This, however, is completely new. It's more contemporary and it modernises the brand."

The main TV ad sees a woman posing as a man trying to convince a shop keeper to sell her a Yorkie by, among other things, explaining the off-side rule and opening a jar of pickles.

"This is a bit more edgy than trucker was. We'll see how it plays out. I think there's a lot of mileage in the idea,

Harrison says without even a hint of a smirk.

"Trucker was the inspiration for the new campaign. It was a celebration of men at the end of the 70s, representing union power in pre-Thatcher Britain. Now we're in the new century and we need to be more subtle and witty."

You wonder what would happen if Yorkie decided to go brash.

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