This article is part of our Frozen digital feature.

Family occasions were a key focus for frozen’s biggest advertisers in 2015, with the likes of Birds Eye and McCain putting them at the heart of their strategies.

Birds Eye slashed traditional ad spend by almost a third (29%), though TV remained the most prominent channel for the brand [Ebiquity 2015]. The money it did spend was split between ongoing support for premium lines Inspirations and Stir Your Senses as well as the new Mix Up Your Menu campaign with food blogger Katie Bryson to encourage consumers to break from the routine by placing new twists on old favourites.

McCain, meanwhile, upped its spend, making use of outdoor and TV creatives to front its campaign. The brand continued to sponsor ITV soap Emmerdale (and will do so until 2018) with a family-focused message featuring real-life families enjoying dinner. Couples, rather than traditional families, were targeted by Dr Oetker for its Ristorante brand as it attempted to recreate the pizzeria feeling at home. The brand splashed out an extra £1m on this.

Looking forward, 2016’s marketing campaigns are already off to a flying start – Young’s has launched a multimillion-pound TV campaign, which saw the return of the foodie feline Malcolm, voiced by Hollywood actor Rupert Everett, to push Gastro Wholetail Scampi and Lemon & Herb Tempura Battered Basa Fillets. In March, Chip Shop will become the new focus of Young’s TV campaign.

Birds Eye, meanwhile, is looking to reignite some old flames. “We understand that to be an engine for category growth, we need to excite consumers around frozen foods. To do this, we need campaigns that achieve cut-through, drive saliency and are relevant to the day-to-day lives of shoppers,” explains Steve Chantry, Birds Eye marketing director. “This year, we’ll be reinvigorating the category through leveraging key advertising icons from Birds Eye’s past to support some of our biggest ranges and exciting innovations.”

Here’s our pick of the most significant frozen TV ads over the past year:

Birds Eye – Mix Up Your Menu

“You know you’re skint when you’re taking advice from that Birds Eye advert and making chicken dipper canapes”, proclaimed one Twitter user when this particular advert hit the airwaves in August 2015. It certainly caused a stir, though perhaps not in the way Birds Eye had hoped for, as the onslaught of mockery across social media began. It formed part of Birds Eye’s Mix Up Your Menu campaign, which centres on new and interesting ways to serve frozen food, including fish finger pie.

McCain – Second to Mum

Nothing can beat mum’s homemade roast potatoes – even McCain knows that. It’s hoping to secure a close second place with its new ‘superior roast potato’. It threw big bucks behind these spuds with an eight-week, £6m marketing campaign in a bid to convert consumers from homemade to pre-prepared tatties while placing them at the heart of a family dinner. It seems Brits are being converted: McCain says it has sold over four million packs since the launch in September 2015, increasing overall unit sales for the category by 5.3%. 

Ristorante - Pizzeria Taste

Cue the lingering touches, sultry looks and beautiful couple feeding each other. No, this isn’t a scene from Ryan Gosling’s latest movie; it’s an advert for frozen pizza as Dr Oetker attempts to prove the supermarket freezer aisles can offer a grown-up dining experience to rival a pizzeria. The sophisticated ad for Ristorante, alongside a slice of NPD and cuts to average price, has helped boost the performance of the Dr Oetker portfolio – though value sales were static, volumes rose 4% [IRI 52 w/e 2 January 2016].

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