Warburtons has enlisted the help of Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro for the first campaign for its new bagel range in a move it hopes will create “fame and talkability” around the launch.
The TV ad, created by Engine, goes live today on social media before its TV debut on 17 May. It sees De Niro flying from New York to the UK to confront the company’s chairman Jonathan Warburton about the bagels in his Bolton office.
Riffing off key ingredients from a mafia drama, the ad shows De Niro and his mob threaten Warburton because the latest product from the company is a threat to their own range of bagels. De Niro explains to an enthralled Warburton how he and his cronies will stop the latest launch, saying it will “not end well”.
The spot is the latest from Warburtons to use famous actors to promote its baked goods. It has previously used The Muppets in advertising for its giant crumpets and Sylvester Stallone and Peter Kay to sell bread.
Speaking to Marketing Week, the brand’s head of marketing Chris Hooks says the use of humour and familiar faces is key to standing out in a crowded market.
“It’s too easy to be glib. You’ve got [to have] an element of humour, and we are not shy of that, and be a bit self-depreciating and ultimately giving the brand fame and talkability,” he explains.
“When we looked at the creative proposal it was really about making the product the hero ad being very distinct and cutting through. Once we’d agreed the play on the American theme we said we’d need a really really strong character and quite frankly if you’re going to get anybody it’s going to be De Niro.
He adds: “Without De Niro we wouldn’t have run that creative.”
Using famous faces is a tactic the brand say works “really well”. Hooks explains: “It’s a format that’s worked really well for us. One of the things we really want to do is create talkability and have that watercooler moment where down the pub people are talking about us.”
READ MORE: How Warburtons is using ‘innovation and fame’ to drive the brand
However, a successful ad can prove a double-edged sword, leaving a brand having to ensure it has strong creative to follow it up.
“We try and raise the bar, and we have raised the bar, every time we do a campaign so in some respects you have to ask ‘Where do you go next?’. Which is an interesting dilemma for us,” Hooks explains.
He adds the need to create successful content has become even more crucial with the rise of social media. “It’s that conversation piece, ‘Have you seen…?’, and that’s really important in this current landscape where people are sharing all the time on social media and that’s why really good creative is important.”
Innovation and the evolving bread market
The bakery market is evolving. Sales of white, sliced loaves were down 12% over the five years to 2017, according to retail analysts Mintel. Meanwhile, one in adults are now avoiding gluten as more health-conscious consumers shy away from a traditional loaf in favour of newer products such as bagels.
To keep up with the latest trends, Warburtons launched bagel thins four years ago, with Hooks claiming the brand now accounts for 20% of the market. Bagels are the second largest sector in the ‘sandwich alternatives’ market, accounting for 21.7% of sales according to Nielsen figures cited by Warburtons.
Hooks adds: “Success will look like being the number one in the bagel market. That’s our ambition.”
The brand keeps a constant eye on new trends so it can spot fast-growth opportunities, whether by talking to consumer groups, looking at what is happening in other countries or getting insights from retailers.
Hooks explains: “[The market has] shifted in terms of the drift away from large wrapped bread but that’s bolstered by other wrapped bakery. Also what we’re seeing is consumers discriminating more and expecting brands to lead more around innovation.
“We’re also seeing the quality of private label improve so the benchmark gets higher and higher.”