Burton’s is supporting its flagship Maryland Cookies brand with a new ‘Keep it Kookie’ campaign.

The new brand positioning is centred around Maryland being ‘unashamedly different’.

This desire to be different will extend to the adverts Maryland makes, the media it chooses and even the cookies it seeks to create.

Simon Browne, Managing Director Burtons Biscuits, tells Grocery Trader about the new campaign which is set to accelerate demand for the nation’s No.1 cookie.

Tell us about the new Maryland Keep it Kookie campaign. What is the theme of the campaign?

Biscuits can be a bit boring, they come off a roller, they are all the same. We were inspired by two things. One is that every cookie we make is different. It’s the only biscuit that is wire cut. We started talking about the individuality of the brand, it’s got more character than some of the other brands out there. The other thing is we looked at adjacent categories which are bringing some really interesting things into the marketplace.

From a personal perspective, I like BrewDog, they are really inspiring in their branding. Also, Ben & Jerry’s – who would have thought they could come up with a product called Netflix & Chilll’d but everyone got it straight away. We were really inspired by that and we wanted to celebrate what we were doing with Maryland. It’s a £50m brand, it’s the biggest cookie in the UK. We wanted to celebrate that with a Keep it Kookie campaign and start to develop both the characters in the campaign and the products. We are now focusing on limited editions with a point of difference. This allows us to bring more of the brand’s personality to the fore. The pipeline has begun successfully with the orange-flavoured Jaffanator followed by It’s Mint to Be and now we’re rolling out Hazelnutter. We have got a whole pipeline. It’s inspired by how Ben & Jerry’s are bringing something more to the category. So we want to be a beacon of fun and excitement in the category for every shopper that comes into the store.

How much is being invested in the campaign and in which media will the creative appear?

We’re looking initially to invest somewhere close to £1m. The challenge is all the unknowns we have with Covid. We will probably start at around £750,000 and then we will look to grow it when we get some certainty about what is happening in the economy with Covid. We will focus on digital campaigns, whereas before it was always TV. We have got our youngest, brightest marketeers that understand TikTok far better than I do. They are talking about how do we get into these channels more. It is going to be driven by Instagram and Facebook and we will have a sustained presence on TikTok. Everyone who uses TikTok will see our 15 second ad. We want people to have some fun and engage with Maryland by trying to shimmy a cookie from their eye to their mouth. It’s a bit like the ice bucket challenge where you throw a bucket of ice over your head and the challenge is passed on virally to build momentum.

Who are the MARYLAND target audience?

I think it’s everybody. Everybody loves a cookie. In particular, we focus on mums with younger families. They want to be inspired at the fixture about what to buy and how to bring something a bit more interesting home for their families. So that’s the core of it but we have the benefit that it appeals to everyone. The core target audience is the working mum looking for inspiration about what to bring back home for the family to eat. I think the occasions are now changing as a consequence of Covid. Those occasions like grabbing something to eat on the go or after school are gone now with Covid. That celebration might be a small thing, like we have got through a day of home schooling, let’s have a cookie to celebrate. That sort of occasion never used to be there. It used to be that mum would have something for her time. It could be mid-morning or after dinner. We are now finding those occasions are more family-oriented.

Which TV programmes will the commercial be shown around?

We are on the ad break of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. It’s the biggest show on at the moment. Given our target audience, rather than spend a lot of time on the tertiary channels, it’s better to invest in the bigger shows.

Keep it Kookie images will be featuring on the GIPHY keyboard. Can you explain what is the GIPHY keyboard?

The GIPHY keyboard allows smartphone users to use GIFs (several images or frames combined into a single animated video) in messages or to add as stickers to social posts. When people search the word ‘kookie’, ‘biscuit’, ‘cookie’ – along with the relevant keywords for our reaction GIFs, clips and quotes from the Maryland Keep it Kookie TV Ad will be available for use.

It’s using technology that I’m not particularly close to, but our tech-savvy brand managers are ensuring we’re getting the very best out of this exciting new technology.

Which celebrity influencer will be fronting the campaign?

It’s mainly around TikTok. Perri Kiely, the dancer from Diversity, is appearing on a lot of TV shows, he is on the radio as well on KISS and he was on Dancing On Ice. He is very well known. There are also people I am not that close to but they have got huge followings. Abi Clarke, a comedian with a kookie sense of humour, has got hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok. LadBabyMum Roxanne Hoyle is a lifestyle blogger and YouTuber and Celebrity Mum of the Year 2019. Scrummy Mummies is about being less than perfect parents, all the challenges you have of being a parent.

Does Maryland have any NPD coming up?

Our inspiration comes from Ben & Jerry’s, it’s more than just a product, more than just a limited edition. We’ve recently launched It’s Mint to Be, which is an infusion of chocolate and mint in the dough. It’s a really great taste with these pearls of mint in it. That has launched into Sainsbury’s and is doing really well. Our marketing team are excellent in talking about Mint To Be, what does it mean and how do you use it with dating apps. We have run a Valentine’s Day campaign as well, swipe right if it’s Mint To Be, that type of thing. It allows us to be build the brand personality. We have got Hazelnutter coming out as well. This is a cookie packed full of chocolate and hazelnuts, appealing to somebody who wants something different from a plain chocolate cookie. We are going to have squirrels in the ad campaign as a play on Hazelnutter. It’s not just another variant, it’s about building a far bigger, exciting brand with some innovative flavours, packaging and brand execution via social media. Last year we launched the Jaffanator, an orange inspired cookie. We also did Cookies ‘n’ Cream, the Maryland cookie that ate the Oreo. We are trying to create this real brand that people can get excited about.

Tell us about the new Wagon Wheels Top Gear on-pack promo.

I am really excited about this. If I could choose any brand to be associated with Wagon Wheels, it would be Top Gear. The core consumer of a Wagon Wheel is a 40-something bloke who needs a big eat in his lunch box because he has probably been working hard all morning. Wagon Wheels delivers, it is a really great snack. Because of the audience profile of Top Gear, it is a match made in heaven. I’m a little bit concerned with whether we can keep up with the demand, just because we think it’s going to be so big. We are featured on all the Top Gear websites, we are using social media, we have rebranded the product as Stig on Wheels, we have got an on-pack promotion. It is absolutely perfect. If it wasn’t for Covid, we were going to get the Stig into one of our bakeries. We are still trying to do it and have the Stig stood over the production line with his helmet on. Whether we can do that now, I don’t know. Wagon Wheels have been around for a long time. Demand is up 10% year on year, so people still love Wagon Wheels. We are investing in increasing the capacity on Wagon Wheels throughout this year. We are starting to see real growth, if we can get the right marketing campaign behind it and really start to leverage some of the trends such as orange. Twirl and Cadbury Fingers have done orange variants so it’s something we can do with Wagon Wheel. Wagon Wheels is worth just under £23m in retail sales. Surprisingly, we export a lot of Wagon Wheels to Russia. The brand is huge there. About 20 years ago somebody moved to Russia from the UK and decided to start importing Wagon Wheels and actually put Wagon Wheels on TV in Russia. It has got listings across all the big multiple retailers over there. I went over there about 12 months ago, just before lockdown, and I had this view that they would just be sold in small outlets. The retailers in Russia are as sophisticated as those in the UK. If anything, they are more disciplined. It does really well over there.

How much is the biscuit market worth? What trends are driving the market?

I think the market is incredibly resilient. If you look at the biscuit market, it is growing 3.5% per annum. That fluctuated dramatically during Covid. Sweet biscuits are growing around 2.8%, savoury biscuits are on about 5% growth. As we went into the initial lockdown, we saw around 25% increase in demand which has since levelled off and we are back down to around 3% growth. The market is doing very well and has been very resilient throughout lockdown. What has changed though is the mix of products that have been sold as a result of Covid, with those occasions that have been changing. If you look at Belvita as an example, volumes are significantly down year on year because that breakfast on the go occasion is no longer there, everyone is having breakfast at home. Cereal bars were materially down as well. A lot of those on the go products have been impacted as a result of those occasions disappearing. Consequently, lockdown has created different occasions. We are seeing shoppers buy bigger packs of biscuits because there is more of the family at home. Rather than just that single serve there are two or three occasions per day where people are consuming biscuits. It has been very resilient throughout but I think it is that mix that has changed significantly. We are all in our industry trying to understand what will the future look like and what are the new occasions going to be.

What advice do you have for supermarkets on merchandising biscuits?

Risk it for a biscuit. What I mean by that, and it depends on the size of the store, is that we are so impulse led. An element of it will be planned – on average people are buying three packs of biscuits per shopping trip. They probably have one of those three in mind when they walk in the store, which is probably the core that all the family have. Then they are going to look for what is going to inspire them. When I say risk it for a biscuit, it is about making sure biscuits have got a prominent position in the store, that they have got a good selection other than just the core. You do need people to be inspired because if they see something new, whether it is Mint to Be or Orange Fingers, they are going to pick it up incrementally to what they usually would pick up with that basket. Potentially, they are going to be trading up into those treatier occasions. We have found through Covid that two things have done extremely well. One is treatier products that are chocolate covered. The other is big pack formats. If you can hit the sweet spot of a big family pack or box of something that’s covered in chocolate, it will catch the eye of the shopper who’s buying for the family because they know it will appeal to everyone.

Equally, value is very important and will get increasingly important as we go into the recession. We have to make sure we continue to offer value throughout. In smaller retailers, the adjacencies to complementary categories are important as well. At the convenience end of the market, we have seen biscuits sited next to the coffee machine. If you go into a Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local, there is an opportunity to buy biscuits along with your coffee because there is a huge percentage of occasions where you are drinking coffee or tea and you will be eating a biscuit as well.

How do you work with supermarkets to improve sales?

We try to be very collaborative with all of the supermarkets. I don’t think we can be so arrogant as to say we know everything about their shopper. So we lean into them for information on their shopper whether it be Tesco through Dunnhumby or whether it be trying to understand what is happening in Asda’s categories. They do have different shoppers with different missions coming into their stores. We work very closely with the retailers on co-creation of our NPD. We also work on how do we start to understand the shopper mission and what products will fulfil the occasion they are looking to buy for. We have a very big business in private label with all of the retailers. We have a very strong branded business with Maryland, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels. We also produce and sell the Mars biscuits portfolio. So we have relevance with the retailers, we can talk to them about the whole category. We can talk to them about private label, about some iconic British brands and about some global brands as well. That is how we try to make all of those work together.


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