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Nov 21, 2017

The bears are back

by Gary Rapps - Managing Director

The bears are back

What is it with bears? For most of my developing years I seemed to be surrounded by them. Books, films, TV shows... you name it, they were everywhere from Rupert and Sooty to Winnie and Yogi.

Add to that Goldilocks’ three mates, Baloo, the Hair Bear Bunch, Barnaby (now that is showing my age) and the best Muppet of them all, Fozzi, and you kind of get the picture.

Not only have our furry friends been part of growing up, but they have also helped many a brand increase their consumer appeal too.

Just take Hofmeister who built its identity around George, the trilby wearing bear, or Coke’s use of its polar bear family to tug on our heart strings over Christmases past. My favourite though has to be salmon wrestling star of a vintage John West Tuna commercial. Brilliant.

Fast forward to mid November and yet another bear, Pudsey, was breaking records during BBC’s Children In Need event by helping raise a staggering £50m, the highest amount in the history of the fundraiser.

Whilst Bungle, and his Rainbow gang, set their sights on selling more pizza as the stars of the latest Pizza Hut advert created by Ogilvy & Mather London. “The Rainbow characters really resonate with our target audience” explained Beverley D’Cruz, Sales and Marketing director at Pizza Hut Delivery, “and brings back a warm, nostalgic feeling for many people.”

Another TV campaign to break recently, but with a more mixed reaction where the lead characters are concerned, was for Müller Rice, a brand with a long bear association through its own dessert loving creation, Tasty-B.

The advert, featuring an extended family of rice eating, Hip Hop styled bears has drawn critism form former London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities Lee Jasper who complained that the advert used offensive and enduring racial stereotypes.  A Müller spokesman defended the campaign but apologised for any offence caused telling one national newspaper that “The advert is intended as a light-hearted tribute to classic hip hop videos. It was never our intention to cause offence or make light of any serious issues, and we apologise to anyone who feels this way.”

For Heathrow Airport however, a continued TV relationship with their own bear family this Christmas seems to have paid off if Twitter is anything to go by. “What a beautiful advert! Loved the bears last year, love them even more this year! Thank you Heathrow for making me cry again!” said one user whilst another commented, “ “Heathrow Xmas advert is my winner this year.” See what you think below:

And talking of Christmas how could I forget one of the most famous British bears of them all, Paddington, who has recently joined forces with another great institution, M&S, to bring us a completely integrated seasonal campaign.

This centres around the new Paddington cinema release and a similarly treated store commercial entitled, “Paddington and the Christmas Visitor”. The above the line treatment is linked to the introduction of 90 products including a soft bear toy, duffel coat and of course marmalade. An expected £200,000 in profits from one of the items – a £3 book – will go to the NSPCC to help fund its Childline service.

Rob Weston, Brand & Marketing Director at M&S said: “Paddington injects the sense of joy, love and neighbourly spirit that makes Christmas feel magical and our story reflects the inclusive, make the most of every moment approach that we take to our customer conversations.”

Paddington is also the first ever film character to star in the M&S Christmas windows and there’s even a team of in-store ‘Moment Makers’ to surprise shoppers with everything from a free marmalade sandwich to a cheeky Paddington chocolate at the till.

The appeal of the humble bear, certainly where use in marketing is concerned, continues to go from strength to strength and I’m sure we’ll see many more brands attracted to them just as bees are drawn to their favourite food, honey.

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