The mood in frozen food has been anything but icy recently as big spenders such as McCain significantly upped their spend and several quiet frozen brands joined the fray again.

McCain spent 24% more in the four weeks to 8 February than in the same period last year in its drive to position itself as a healthy, low-fat option .

In the latest commercial, a farmer stands in a field and conducts the rain and sunshine using the same 'Food, Glorious Food' number as in previous campaigns, only this time in a faux-classical rendition.

McCain has also recently brokered a £10m deal to sponsor UK Athletics.

And with its unashamedly unapologetic and celebratory marketing it has arguably done more than any other frozen player to link frozen food with health.

This helped McCain boost its sales by 6.4% in 2008 [Source: Nielsen].

The second-biggest spender in the frozen food category, pizza brand Chicago Town, has taken a very different but equally unapologetic approach, focused on big, bold and brash.

The brand did not advertise during January and February last year. In the year to date, however, it has splurged £758,944 on television

advertisements with an all-American attitude as it attempts to tap into the growing trend for staying in.

However, other health messaging in the frozen food sector was relatively muted.

Bernard Matthews spent just £10,733 and Birds Eye Healthy Options kicked off with £6,380.

The bulk of Birds Eye's advertising spend since the start of the year has supported the main frozen food brand with a 10-second commercial that is designed to appeal to frugal shoppers.

The commercial shows a £1 coin rolling past fish fingers and other frozen foods such as the resurrected Arctic Roll.

The main brand is also backed through its sponsorship of ITV1's prime-time game show Saturday Night Takeaway, presented by Ant and Dec, with a series of humorous, animated 10-second idents featuring frozen peas, waffles and fish fingers.

Young's frozen fish range is ­another new participant in the fight for a share of the crowded ­frozen food market, spending £359,139 on television ads.