Agency: TBWA, London
On a glum day, Brits keep their chins up with French fries.
TBWA London was excluded from the pitch list for McCain Foods, one of the world's biggest frozen potato-products company, but Trevor Beattie, the Omnicom Group agency's flamboyant chairman-creative director, fought his way into the contest. His winning idea turned into a $25 million U.K. campaign with a blatantly emotional theme-a bold tactic to use on the cynical Brits.
Julie Lievers, McCain's marketing director, describes the strategy as "high risk-high reward," saying, "I want the brand to have equity, to mean something. It has been the sum of its parts for too long."
Until now, McCain has advertised its potato products individually with functional messages about taste, convenience or fat content. But TBWA London's 90-second spot delivers a more emotional reason to buy french fries.
Ms. Lievers' brief to TBWA was "with McCain, everybody comes up smiling." The agency responded by resurrecting the old-fashioned British admonition "chin up" to urge people to put on a brave face in difficult times.
The commercial, shot in sweeping cinematic style with a tear-jerker soundtrack, shows a series of life's little hiccups-moments that are not disastrous but still get you down. A delayed train, an overflowing bath, a cellphone left on a bus seat, a red sock in a white wash.
At the end, a man presents a meal to his glum wife. She picks up a fry and manages a smile. The spot finishes with the phrase "chin up" written in the clouds.
Product-specific ads will run later this year. The "chin up" theme continues but the daily mishaps will be exaggerated.