Mark Denton and I were remembering a McCains’ ad we loved from years back.

It was sung to the tune of ‘Que Sera Sera’ by Doris Day, the chorus was:



A bunch of guys leaving the building site, in the back of a Ford Transit, singing about their evening meal, I still remember the words:

Guy in Knitted Hat: “Will it be chips or jacket spuds?”

Guy in Yellow Hard-hat: “Will it be salad or frozen peas?”

Two Guys: “Will it be mushrooms?”

Jamaican Guy: “Fried onion rings?”

All (to camera): “You’ll have to wait and see.”

(Van driving off into distance)

Chorus: “Hope it’s chips, chips. We hope it’s chips, chips…(fade)”

Terrific song, great ad, all you remember is chips go great with anything and that’s what a hungry man wants after a hard day.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t branded McCains, they were the only brand of chips that advertised because they owned the market.

We loved it, everyone loved it, it sold a lot of chips, there was only one problem.

I just checked and it wasn’t for McCains chips at all.

You see, halfway through that ad there was a VO that we’d forgotten:

“Birds Eye introduce Steakhouse Grills.

Pure ground beef that you cook like a steak and serve like a steak.

What will you give your old man with his Steakhouse Grill?”

But the song was the catchiest part, so that’s what we all remembered and sang.

That’s why Mark and I both remembered it as an ad for McCains.

(And we work in the business, we care about ads, what chance have consumers got who don’t give a monkey’s about ads?)

That’s a great lesson for us if we want to learn it.

Advertising matters so little that people can love your song, love your film, love your joke, and totally ignore who it’s for.

Why has the part about remembering who the ad’s for dropped off the brief?

The brief used to have two important sections, THE PROPOSITION, and THE TONE-OF-VOICE.

The proposition was the logical appeal: why it was better, cheaper, lasted longer, tasted better, fresher, safer; it was always the reason to choose ours over the competition.

The tone-of-voice was emotional: mood, feeling, warmth, aspiration, memories; it was always emotions about that sector.

The new thinking was that we didn’t need the PROPOSITION part of the brief, the logic, so that part, the rational part, the reason to buy, was dropped.

By concentrating on the TONE-OF-VOICE part of the brief, we could manipulate people without them even knowing, via their emotions.

We changed the name ‘tone-of-voice’ to BRAND, we even changed the job-title to brand planners.

But we forgot, when you sell the emotion of a sector you sell everything else in that sector.

So the emotional brief for Steakhouse Grills was: warm, homey, reassuring, loving family.

But that same brief applies to: chips, mashed potato, soup, hot chocolate, Bisto gravy, Walls sausages, central heating, double-glazing, etc, etc, etc.

Because emotions sell a sector and, unless you’re brand leader, that’s money wasted.

Which is what happened to the ad Mark and I loved.

We remembered the song and the emotion, but we remembered it for the wrong product and the wrong brand.

As Mark said, it would have made a great ad for McCains.

Of course, all Birds Eye had to do was change the chorus:



Then people would have sung about their brand instead of someone else’s.