MEDIA: Strategy of the Week - McCain chips promise a salve for frustrated souls

PHD Compass' media plan targets people on their way to work, Emma Barns writes.

In May this year, TBWA\London scooped the McCain creative account from Leo Burnett. McCain's new-look campaign was revealed in August, complete with its new "chin up" message and backed by a "frustration media strategy".

The creative is a direct response to consumer feeling that McCain is a brand to make you smile. It also aims to create the feeling that McCain is a comfort food. This led to the "chin up" endline. "We wanted to show McCain as the antidote to all the irritating little things in life," Deborah Mills, the planning managing partner of TBWA, says.

Victoria McManus, an account manager at McCain's media planning and buying agency, PHD Compass, says: "The strategy aims to isolate key media opportunities where there's a heightened sense of frustration that can be agreed on by everyone. Its two-pronged objective is to target the key consumer, the main shopper, and also to fulfil and extend the creative strategy."

The timing of the TV launch on 27 August - the last summer Bank Holiday - provided the first glimpse of this strategy. "The summer is over and it's back to reality," McManus says.

Television commercials were launched with two weeks of 90-second slots, a first in food advertising. The long slot was chosen to make the ads stand out as something completely different. Mills says: "It is conventional to do 30-second sitcom-like advertising for food and we wanted people to see that this (brand) is different."

The TV work, featuring images of daily mishaps, including a cancelled train, is accompanied by a version of Nat King Cole's Smile. The cut-down 30-second versions of these ads ran for a further two weeks and ten-second ads will run after this.

A poster campaign, also planned and bought by PHD Compass, is where the agency's "frustration strategy" builds. "We wanted to tie into nationally felt sentiments of frustration and saw that commuting was the main place to do this," McManus says.

PHD Compass chose an outdoor campaign as having the greatest impact - it bought 96- and 48-sheet sites around the country. Six-sheet posters will also run in key McCain stores, mainly Asda and Safeway.

PHD Compass has extended the "chin up" message to the shopping experience with McCain hit-squads. Teams are on hand in stores with balloons and promotional material and there are plans to have McCain helpers pack bags and help shoppers to their cars.

"The frustration strategy opens up lots of potential media opportunities," McManus says. A contingency budget has been set aside with a plan to use "chin up" tactically. For example, press ads will be placed if England loses a national sporting event.

McCain is open to more adventurous ideas and there is scope in the strategy for the PR stunts, guerrilla campaigns and viral activity that have been recommended. A radio campaign, on-pack promotions, direct mail and even the release of the TV ads' soundtrack are also being considered for the New Year.

Advertiser: McCain

Media planning and buying: PHD Compass

Creative: TBWA\London

Media used: National television, outdoor (48- and 96-sheet posters),


Media idea: Target key consumers at times when they are greatly


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