McCain turns pre-roll ads into golden tickets

Rewarding viewers who sit through an entire ad is part of a greater push to reach younger consumers on digital platforms.

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Many viewers have honed their quick twitch muscles skipping pre-roll ads, but McCain is hoping the prospect of winning “golden things” will entice them enough to stick around.

With “The McCain Golden Oven” contest, the food brand is looking to transform the frequently loathed ad formats into must-watch material: a problem far more intractable than that of “double dipping,” but which they’re hoping to solve with a variety of high-end prizes, including gold-tinged headphones, hoverboards and a statue of a Golden Retriever. Someone can win if they happen to receive an ad that features the Pavlovian “ding” when an oven or microwave is done cooking – but they need to watch to the end of the pre-roll to claim the prize.

According to Marty Hoefkes, ACD at FCB Canada, frozen fries are the ultimate “good things come to those who wait” experience. And they’re embracing that for the campaign as well: the duration of the spots is long, ranging from two to ten minutes.

Lisa Pozhke, media and digital marketing manager at McCain Foods, she says it’s aiming to drive retail consumption by tapping into the universal love of fries through the experience and anticipation of preparing them.

FCB Canada led the campaign, having recently won the digital assignment for McCain.

Pozhke says McCain’s media spend has become more digital in nature, a pivot accelerated by the pandemic at the expense of in-store and traditional media. And she says while the campaign is for all fry lovers, the cheeky approach was specifically designed for the digital space and is a means of pushing beyond the millennial family demo, where it competes with other frozen side dishes but also warm, shareable snacks.

Pozhke says the company has seen strong retail demand during the pandemic, as consumers are eating at home more often and turning to trusted brands. She adds that demand for “oven on” snacks picks up during the crisper fall days, hence the timing of this offering.

The “Golden Oven” campaign is primarily living through its pre-roll ads, but McCain is also building buzz through display banners and through social, where consumers are invited to chime in, so to speak, through the hasthag “#ThatsGolden.”

That phrase, Pozhke says, is becoming a platform for the brand and will likely be leveraged in the future to support multiple campaign executions, reflecting the colour of perfectly cooked fries.

The contest runs until October 11. UM handled the media buy.