United Biscuits Pulls Rabbit From First Christmas Ad in Over 30 years


A day later, McVitie’s released the following statement: “We can confirm that no animals were harmed in the making of the McVitie’s Victoria Christmas ad.  We had a professional vet and handlers on set overseeing all the filming to ensure the welfare of the animals was our top priority.  The professionals on set have confirmed that in their opinion the rabbit filmed was absolutely not in a state of tonic immobility or “trancing”; the camera angles used in the filming are clearly misleading. However, we understand that the ad could mislead people into thinking that putting a rabbit on its back is recommended, when this is not the case.  We have therefore taken the decision to remove this scene in the ad as soon as we can.”

We did like the cute rabbit. Shame it had to go.

The £1million advertisement, titled “McVitie’s Victoria Christmas Choir” and created by Grey London, caps a total investment of £12million in multi-media advertising for McVitie’s this year. It features a new cast of animal characters, following the theme of United Biscuits (UB)’s hugely popular McVitie’s Sweeet campaign, seen throughout 2014 with promotions for Digestives, Chocolate Digestives, Jaffa Cakes and BN.

The 60-second commercial for the Victoria range originally included 11 animal stars in total, to reflect the variety of milk, white and dark chocolate biscuits within the McVitie’s Victoria biscuit selection box. The new characters range from a pug to a piglet, as well as a baby reindeer, bringing a festive focus to the latest instalment of the Sweeet family.

With the premium assortments market worth over £63 million in the UK, this latest investment by UB marks an ongoing commitment by the business to continue growing the sweet biscuits category and support Christmas retail sales. UB sold over three million units of Victoria in 2013, making it the nation’s favourite sweet biscuit assortment.

Sarah Heynen, Marketing Director for Sweet Biscuits at United Biscuits, commented, “Bringing Victoria to TV screens this Christmas is the culmination of what has been an extremely successful year for McVitie’s, following the launch of our masterbrand strategy early in 2014. Our value share of the total biscuit market rose to 26% in September 2014, more than three times the share of our nearest competitor. The latest campaign aims to tap into consumers’ love for McVitie’s and the Victoria range, whilst supporting our continuing efforts to drive growth into the category.”

McVitie’s Victoria has returned this season in a brand new, hinged box, offering a more modern and premium look and feel for consumers. Following investment by UB in packaging technology, Victoria’s innovative packaging format will now also contain two re-closable foil film trays, individually wrapped to retain freshness.

The new advertisement premièred first week of December on E4, and will run across high-profile programming during the three week period leading up to Christmas Day. The ad centres around a family sharing a box of Victoria biscuits at Christmas. As with the previous adverts in the series, the animals are revealed upon opening the box of Victoria biscuits.

On this occasion, the much loved Sweeet family of the Digestive puppies, Chocolate Digestive kittens, Jaffa Cake tarsier and BN owl has been expanded to include: an Alaskan Malamute, a piglet, a Persian kitten, a rabbit (later removed), a duckling, a ginger kitten, a Pug, a hedgehog, a reindeer and a narwhal – the latter emerging from the Christmas punchbowl.

The leading manufacturer and marketer of biscuits in the UK and second largest in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Ireland, UB owns and operates 16 manufacturing facilities, of which seven are in the UK and has a strong footprint for growth, with products sold in over 130 countries.

You can watch the ad below.

Joshua Hughes
Joshua Hughes
Advertising Editor. I love adland, having worked in the industry for the past decade. In addition to advertising, I love my movies.

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