OPINION: Mills on ... Hovis

Bread. I'm quite partial to the stuff, I must admit, especially

brown wholemeal toasted with Marmite. Not to mention thick, white crusty

stuff of the farmhouse variety. And I'm very keen on pain rustique,

which for some bizarre reason you can buy in my local Total garage.

Trouble is I hate buying it in the supermarket. You get to the bread

fixture and what happens but paralysis when you're confronted by 30

different types of bread. Crusty this, crusty that. Granary, wholemeal,

oatmeal, wheatmeal, country grain. And then there's the slice: thick,

thin, square cut, medium or unsliced. The pain in my head only lifts

when I leave the bread counter behind - until I get home to find myself

berated and sent to my room without food because I bought the wrong


So I ask you this: how many different bread brands can you name? Not

many is the answer, although according to my mighty Neilsen MMS tome,

there are 178 brands and sub brands. No doubt about it though, the first

name off the lips of everyone I asked was Hovis. With a bit of time and

thought other names would spring to mind - Warburton's, Kingsmill,

Mother's Pride, Mighty White, Nimble and Allinson's - but Hovis is the

one, so much so that it is almost a generic. And by the way, have you

noticed how all the packaging looks the same?

But I suspect that while Hovis' heritage gives it currency and residual

affection, it is in danger of being passed by.

Indeed, Hovis may be in the awkward position of being brand leader in a

market increasingly fractured by own labels, yet not market leader.

And so we come to the new Hovis campaign by BMP. Meet the Hovis family:

Mancunians Hugh and Hilary, who live in a modern terrace, are parents of

Hannah, 11, and Harry, seven. They are your archetypal middle-class

family: two cars, package holidays to DisneyWorld, video games, pet

hamster, cable TV and so on. Oh, and a mum who worries about the kids'


Of course, they're not a real family but animated, drawn in a bright,

childlike way that is a cross between South Park and Roger Hargreaves'

Mister Men. This, I believe, allows advertisers who go for the family

soap opera style to get round the first problem of that particular

genre: cost. Soap-style ads are expensive because you need to introduce

new characters and keep the plot moving. With animation, that's easier

and cheaper.

It's also a move on from the previous D'Arcy advertising which, as I

recall, seemed to focus lovingly on shots of the product. Here, the

message is more specific: mums and dads are in a never-ending war

against junk food but Hovis, as we all know, is good for you, hence the

new tagline "Get something good inside". The soap style will clearly

make for plenty of opportunity to get the message over in a variety of


Perhaps the most interesting change is the focus on children. Neither

the great CDP Shaftesbury/Dvorak ad, nor the subsequent D'Arcy work,

included children in the target market. Since they eat so much of the

stuff, that was surely odd.

The first ad, however, is a disappointment, featuring 'Arry, 'Eauvis and

some scatalogical references (see Leon Jaume's Private View). But this

is a soap, these are early days and it's a John Webster project, so I

would be optimistic that it will come good. A final word must rest with

the new packaging - modern and fresh.

Dead cert for a Pencil? Unlikely, but give it time

Will it work? Provided they keep product development going

What would the chairman's wife say? Isn't it all abit, you know,