Awwdvertising – McVitie’s scores with cuddly biscuits

McVitiesI absolutely love the new McVitie’s ads. I run cool on most days, but the unabashedly adorable ads created by Grey London turn me to a quivering, wide-eyed, little puddle on the floor.

It’s not news that adland has been furiously scribbling notes dictated by short form internet content. Both mediums are rife with our animal friends being sweet in their furry and feathered glory. The Andrex Puppy, the First Direct Platypus, Cravendale Cats, Meerkats, Belvita Sloths, Funky Pigeons are part of an ever expanding list of animal protagonists.

It turns out Puppy Porn is good for us. Check out this wonderfully named study called ‘Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behaviour and Narrows Attentional Focus’. The outcome of experiment suggests that images of baby animals are the superfood of the positive emotion world. Cute or Kawaii images made research participants significantly more adept at motor dexterity tasks, compared to research participants who viewed images of adults or delicious looking food.


I also highly recommend Jane McGonigal’s fantastic Ted talk on gamifying your life, where she makes the audience think about baby animals for an emotional resilience boost.

Skip to14:46 for emotional resilience boost!

The best advertising offers you something in return for your attention – a fantasy of a better/easier life, laughter or meaningful information. Isn’t it wonderful to think that an ad can generate a positive, emotional experience that is beneficial to your wellbeing?

I’m part of a specialist early stage creative development team at Ipsos ASI called Nurturing Great Creative. We do custom work with our clients and their agencies to help bring the experience of their brand to life for consumers. Our experience from insight and big idea research is that when people have a highly emotional reaction, it is sometimes at the expense of the brand. Campaigns that manage this successfully are the ones that weave the brand experience into the creative like a steel thread, OR generate such a high degree of delight that the viewer feels obliged to acknowledge the source of the diversion. I think McVitie’s have done brilliantly on both counts.

Using (adorable!) spirit animal metaphors for their lead products is pure genius. Puppies for crumbly digestive cuddles, smokey kittens for chocolatey snuggles, and tarzier zestiness for Jaffa cakes. The straw poll in my office divided people in different camps of ‘aww’. As in the biscuit category, everyone had a special favourite.

The master stroke is nailing the similarity between people’s affection for baby animals and the British love of a good biscuit. This is not a platonic, idealised love – this is a hands-on, fur jumbling, crumb stroking, snuffling, warmth sharing, tactile sort of love. The innocent kind that doesn’t require that fine, adopted British tradition of Dutch courage to enable you to come out and say “I love you pet”.

The creative also lends itself beautifully to a digital format because it is so visually arresting. Seeing the ads on various websites (especially the rich media banners with the squirmy kittens) certainly drove me to watch the ads again . Much like an open packet of biscuits, it’s very hard to stop at one.


This work is viscerally emotional, highly visible and cleverly evocative of the actual product experience. Great work Grey London and McVitie’s. I can’t wait for you to make more.