McVitie’s and Cadbury’s: The Owls Are Not What They Appear

If you look closely on the internet there’s all manner of bullshit to navigate. Forget Jennifer Lawrence grimeporn and the Deep Web, the really filthy stuff is to be found on the drivel-purveying marketing and advertising websites.

For instance, were you aware that there’s an ‘afternoon snacking market’? Of course, you weren’t, because there’s no such thing. It’s a nonsense term invented to convince biscuit-vendors that they have to spend more money on advertising, by convincing us that there’s such a thing as an afternoon snacking market. There’s not – it’s a total invention. But I bet you’re thinking about what biscuits you typically eat on an afternoon.

What, for example, differentiates a morning biscuit from an afternoon biscuit? What does the midnight snacking market consist of? What would you say if someone offered you a night biscuit?

Anyway, such ‘afternoon snacks’ can be seen in the form of Cadbury’s Lu and Ritz – something that I think consists of two different biscuits, though I’m not sure. Every time I hear them reference they’re called Cadbury’s Lu and Ritz. What is a Lu? And isn’t a Ritz a cheese cracker? Is that what a Cadbury’s Ritz is? And do you have to purchase it with a Lu or can it be bought separately. And doesn’t Cadbury’s Lu put you in mind of a chocolate lavatory?

So many questions. What the afternoon snacking market advert is aiming for is obviously the idea that eating one of these biscuits is akin to a five-minute hit of pure heroin-cocaine highball, only without the attendant self-loathing, heart attack and death in Hollywood motel.

Cadbury’s suggests that you’ll want to dance if you eat one of their Ritz and Lu (or maybe a Ritz or a Lu, I really can’t tell) – they call their campaign Moments Of Joy; McVitie’s wants you to think that you’ll enjoy a narcotic-free Twin Peaks-style trip if you eat one of their BN biscuits. Their current campaign is called Sweeet.

Picture 5

You’ve probably seen their ads where two girls make funny faces at owls that are sitting on their heads. I don’t recall ever finding simple visuals so aggravating. McVities has form with this – not long ago we saw a Bush Baby coming out of pack of Jaffa Cakes, a puppy emerging from some digestives and kittens making nurses all gooey.

I despise every single one of them. Mannered, try-hard, whatever you want to call them, it’s the sort of thing that seems designed to stimulate a reaction – any reaction – to make it memorable. We see the advert; we see the product – we make an association. Perhaps the best at this was the You’ve Been Tango’ed series of ads from the 90s that suggested that drinking some fizzy orange pop was a bit like being slapped around the face. There’s another on at the moment that suggests chewing 5 Gum is like standing under a torrent of Vimto.

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Only, these adverts don’t do that for me. Eating a Jaffa Cake isn’t like all the horror, delights and weirdnesses of a trip condensed into 30 seconds. It’s something that tastes nice with tea. Can you imagine how insane life would be if it were how advertisers portrayed it? A day-glo, high-volume rollercoaster of inescapable emotion. Exhausting, numbing, incomprehensible.

Sometimes a biscuit is just a biscuit. And thank God.

• To give you an insight into the insanity of biscuit marketing, I’ve C+Ped some stuff from an ad blog I found, along with my genuinely-held responses to it, line-by line.

The campaign was created to celebrate everyday moments made that little bit better with a McVitie’s biscuit.

Fuck off.


Fuck off.

places a packet of BN biscuits on the sofa behind them and invites them to enjoy an afternoon tasty treat.

Picture 2

Fuck off.

The packet is opened and out pops a wide eyed baby owl creating unexpected excitement

Fuck off.

and happiness

Fuck off.

for a moment before crunching into the crispy sandwich biscuit,

Fuck off.

enjoying the cheeky wink

Picture 3

Fuck off.

of a McVitie’s.

….fuck off.

Sarah Heynen, Marketing Director of Sweet Biscuits at UBUK, commented: “The new BN ad continues to illustrate the emotion derived from the biscuit eating moment.”

Fuck off.