COLIN THE SHOTS: A PUBLIC DISASTER FOR M & S

COLIN THE SHOTS: A PUBLIC DISASTER FOR M & S

Colin or Cuthbert?

Like many others, I have been closely following the Colin & Cuthbert the Caterpillar Twitter gate. The biggest showdown since McGregor v Mayweather. It was quite refreshing to see these two heavyweights go caterpillar to caterpillar rather than the usual COVID-19 debates.

M & S and Colin aren’t very happy with Aldi and Cuthbert because of the similarities of the two products and so M & S are threatening to sue Aldi; despite other major UK retailers also selling their own caterpillars: Curly, Clyde, Cecil, Charlie, Morris and Wiggles.

Are M & S fighting a losing battle?

Has Aldi just proved there is no such thing as bad publicity?

Well, let’s find out.

On Thursday 15th April, news that shook the world of children’s parties, office birthdays, and millennials, Colin the Caterpillar laced up his six boots and went to war. M&S has filed an intellectual property claim with the High Court against Aldi, in an effort to protect their chocolate-covered swiss roll celebration cake, and demanded that Aldi stop selling their copy cat-erpillar, Cuthbert.

Like Prince, Madonna and Boris, in birthday party circles, Colin needs no second name, with over 15 million sales under his belt during his 30 year life.

Such is the cult of Colin that M&S created a female version – Connie the Caterpillar – who sports a pink bow. You can also buy Colin in mini-roll form, as gummy sweets and sour sweets, and, hauntingly, stand-alone Colin faces. The Colin canon is broad and terrifying.

The first imitator was Wiggles from Sainsbury’s in 2011, who was shortly followed by the rest of the army. (An army is what you call a group of Caterpillars by the way) For the most part, the caterpillars are extremely similar: all are chocolate Swiss roll sponge with chocolate buttercream, and chocolate covering, decorated with sweets. All the caterpillars have shoes extending down the length of their bodies, and a cartoon face that could generously be described as sort-of reminiscent of a caterpillar, or maybe a train that has come to life. The packaging is also near-identical: long, rectangular green boxes with cellophane windows showing off the cute little caterpillar.

So why now? Why Aldi? Why Cuthbert?

Perhaps, some cynical sorts have suggested, this is not, in fact, the landmark case of intellectual property law it purports to be, but in fact, a PR stunt confected by the rival supermarkets. Certainly, Aldi’s social media over the weekend hasn’t suggested that they’re quaking in their Caterpillar boots.

Marks and Spencer is quoted as saying:

“Love and care go into every product on our shelves. So we want to protect Colin, Connie and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value”.

But has this all the signs of a publicity disaster for Marks and Spencer?

There is no doubt that Colin the Caterpillar is valuable to Marks and Spencer but have Aldi’s tweets proved the company should have thought about it more before bringing the action? 

You definitely came across the brilliantly funny social media campaign from Aldi’s Twitter account #freecuthbert, you couldn’t miss it, it was everywhere! The newspapers, online, Colin even got an interview on This Morning with Philip Schofield.

Let’s make sense of it all;

Marks and Spencer bit the bullet and lodged a claim with the High Court against Aldi for infringing on the Colin-related trademarks that Marks & Spencer owns.

Naturally, Marks and Spencer want Aldi to remove the Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake from their stores and to refrain from selling anything similar in the future.

Aldi’s witty and punful tweets stole the limelight of Marks & Spencer’s sue claims but when the fun dried out, Aldi suggested that they all put this nonsense behind them and that they “raise money for Charity, not lawyers.”

However, M & S completely missed the mark with some Twitter users calling the retailer “pathetic”. M & S suggested that Aldi just use their own character and threw Kevin the Carrot Cake into the mix. Poor carrot probably already has enough on his plate.

So was this all worthwhile for M & S? A PR Stunt or Stint?

According to the stats, Aldi’s news sentiment increased by +8.5%, purchase consideration +6.08% and Social Engagement 460,629 while M&S seen a decrease of 134.1% in their news sentiment, a 2.72% decrease in purchase consideration and only managed to get half of Aldi’s social engagement with 253,581.

I feel that answers the question… perhaps they should have left Cuthbert alone?

Courtney McGoldrick is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn, Instagram & Twitter.

Battle Of The Christmas Ads

The shelves are stocked with mince pies and Mariah Carey is playing throughout the supermarkets but there’s nothing that says the holiday season quite like the battle of the Christmas ads. Halloween is over and just like that the festive advertisements, flood our TV screens. I think it’s fair to say that Christmas ads have now become an integral part of our Christmas.

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We wait with anticipation to see what extent our favourite retailers and brands will go to, to be crowned Christmas advertisement of the year, but what actually makes a good Christmas advertisement? Tear jerkers? Humour? Tradition? Celebs?

One thing for sure anyway, a lot of money makes a good campaign… BBC reported that last year these industry giants spent a record breaking 6.4bn on festive advertising. Wow!

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Here’s the low down on Brand Watch’s top 5 Christmas Ads of 2018;

  1. John Lewis (no surprise here)

John Lewis never fail to impress us, they are a strong contender for the best ad every year and you can be almost sure that before it’s even released it’s going to be a good one. It was reported that they spent 1 Million pound on the masterpiece.  I think they’ll find it hard to top it this year.

  1. Iceland

Ranked the most powerful Christmas ad of 2018, and probably one of the most talked about and shared on social media, after being banned from TV. Iceland pulled at our heart strings by showing the devastating effects of palm oil plantations and a tale of how an orangutan lost its home and family due to deforestation. To say it was controversial that this got banned is an understatement, hence why it was shared so widely on social media.

  1. Sainsburys

This was a personal fav of mine from last year. Bringing out the fun element and showing kids having ‘The Best Night’ at their school play. This ad generated the most positive reactions on Twitter.

  1. Aldi

It was the return of Kevin the Carrot for Aldi, we watched in anticipation as Aldi piggy-backed on the Coca-Cola ad, with Kevin on the road doing some deliveries in a very similar style truck to that of the iconic red Coca-Cola one. Aldi very cleverly got us all talking about their ad by leaving it on a cliff hanger.

  1. Heathrow

Heathrow brought back the beloved bears for what made a touching festive story that warmed our hearts.

So what’s the secret to having the most effective Christmas campaign?

It can be said that the most successful Christmas ads are the ones that take us on a journey with them. This is probably why John Lewis were crowned last year’s best, as they took us on the journey of ‘The Boy and the Piano’ we watched Elton John grow from a young boy who received a piano from his grandmother as a Christmas present, into a music icon.

Some Christmas ads have been slammed in the past for pushing products and not focusing on the Christmas spirit, but after all the main purpose of an ad is to increase sales and get people through the door, right?

Every year we see these brands very cleverly battle it out on twitter in response to each other’s ads and last year was no different with plenty of  ‘keyboard warriors’ creating parodies of the John Lewis Ad. We all like to see a bit of friendly banter between rivals. Round of applause for the creativity of these!

Lidl

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Iceland (ouch)

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Poundland

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eBay

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Oldies but goldies… 

Is there still room for the classics or is it time for them to up their game?

Personally I love the classic nostalgic ads.

I think it goes without saying that the all-time favourite traditional Christmas ad has to be, Coca-Cola ‘The Holidays are coming’? It is definitely mine anyway! The iconic red truck first graced our TV screens in 1995, and every year since we have tuned in to watch its return. Research carried out by the Advertising Association actually found that ‘The Holidays are coming’ was voted the best song to be played in a Christmas Ad.

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Who will get your vote this year?

Megan.

Megan Carton is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-carton-351485182/

Kevin puts on a Christmas Cracker

With Christmas sweets spotted in shops before Halloween even ended this year, are you feeling the festive fever? Christmas campaigns are also starting earlier each year and it’s getting hard to turn on the TV without being bombarded with adverts telling you how little time you have to buy presents for your loved ones and why you should buy from their store. Amidst the madness one advert in particular stood out to me, Aldi’s advert featuring Kevin the carrot.

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A few weeks ago, Aldi released a very simple but effective 10 second teaser featuring the ‘Leafy Blinders.’ In the video we see a host of Brussel Sprouts, in my opinion the undisputed badies of Christmas, dressed in Peaky Blinder style flat caps. During the clip they state that they’re, ‘Here to take back Christmas, by order of the Leafy Blinders’ followed by a ripped newspaper featuring an article on Kevin. Anyone who has watched a single episode of the Peaky Blinders will see the clear resemblance to the show from the lighting to the thick accents. The teaser didn’t give much away but was enough to peak your interest.

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So, what’s the craic with Kevin?

Two weeks later the full Christmas advert was released showing Kevin in all his glory. The ad starts with Kevin tided up to a grater while the Leafy Blinders heckle him, the narrator can be heard saying ‘Christmas before Kevin was all about sprouts’ which explains their anger. The whole narration of the advert is done in a rhyming style which makes it more fun. During this scene Kevin can be seen wearing a circus master’s outfit but the reason for this is still unclear. A tomato is then thrown at Kevin in a bid to harm him but in a turn of events this little tomato chews through the ropes tying Kevin up. He then thanks ‘tiny tom’ for his help. This is a well thought through character as Tiny Tom is a well-known name and obviously Tom can be short for tomato. We are also starting to see a picture being built up of the array of fruit and veg Aldi stock without even realising it.

The pair can be seen running through the snow to arrive at a beautiful circus tent where we catch another pun as Kevin tells tommy to ‘Catch up’ like ketchup. The background music starts to kick in here and we can hear the catchy tune of Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams, not your average Christmas carol but it’s guaranteed to be stuck in your head all day. There has been discussion around whether Robbie is actually singing this version, the verdict has been unsure but I think it adds to the Christmas magic to imagine that it is.

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Kevin then takes the stage as PT Barnum from the film The Greatest Showman and lets us know that, ‘Sprouts are gone and Kevin’s here!’ He can be seen throughout the rest of the advert running around an abundance of festive treats from mince pies to turkey and ham while the crowds cheer in glee. This makes the consumer feel that in order to have a showstopping Christmas they need to purchase all this food to impress their guests. There is a further nod towards The Greatest Showman as a carrot, who we presume to be Kevin’s partner, wears a purple wig like Anne Wheeler in the film. Towards the end of the advert a ‘good’ Brussel sprout lands in a canon and states that, ‘it’s time to blast off,’ all these hidden jokes make the advert fun to watch for all ages. We then see the final scene of the family of carrots standing together. Aldi have done an excellent job at combining this film from popular culture into their advert and with the sparkling lights and array of food it’s hard to look away!

Upon further research into Kevin the carrot I found out that this is not his first acting debut, he has in fact been the star of Aldi’s Christmas adverts from 2016. Other adverts included big films from that year, including a remake of Murder on the Orient Express where we see Kevin fall in love with Katie. Many people feel as though they have followed Kevin through major milestones in his life and have grown to love him so last year Aldi released a range of Kevin the carrot soft toys, with plans to do the same this year. The queues were phenomenal with the toys selling out in record time and even being sold for upwards of £1000 on eBay. I think all this shows how strongly a well thought out campaign can appeal to the public as each year Aldi are essentially advertising the same products just piggybacking off the back of a popular cultural film and it has proven to be very effective. Besides at the end of the day Kevin the carrot is just a carrot.

 

Benita Brown is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR) student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @benitabrown96 and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/benita-brown-929911194/