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Why McCain’s Oven Chips Are Smoothing Over Dinner-Table Divisions

adam&eveDDB creative directors tell LBB's Alex Reeves how humble potato products are bridging chasms within British families, from views on Brexit to tastes in TV

Why McCain’s Oven Chips Are Smoothing Over Dinner-Table Divisions

Brits love chips. Pretty much all Brits. No matter their age, income, ethnicity, sexuality, physical ability, hobbies or politics, the convenient starchy side dish (known to most of the rest of the world, rightly or wrongly, as ‘fries’) is a cherished mainstay of family dinners across the land.

That’s the key thought at the heart of the latest McCain’s campaign by adam&eveDDB to promote the British brand’s Crispy French Fries and Home Chips, in which ten real families illustrate how differences can bring families closer together when discussed and debated around the dinner table (over a plate of chips, of course).

The third instalment in the ‘We Are Family’ series, ‘Differences’ depicts everyday moments in a broad variety of British families, tapping into the divided times we live in - a phenomenon that’s definitely not unique to the UK in 2019.

LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with creative directors Chloe Pope and Jess Morris to find out what thought went into this unflinching but warm depiction of a divided nation.




LBB> Let's rewind to the beginning of the We Are Family series. What was the first thought and how did the broad idea tie in with the McCain's brand?

Chloe> The campaign was developed from the insight that half of British people don't think popular culture reflects the reality of modern families. Research showed that 84% of consumers were unable to recall seeing anything in popular culture that featured a family like their own in over the last six months. In 2017 we launched the ‘We Are Family’ campaign to combat this lack of representation for real, modern families. We wanted to celebrate real families in all their glorious shapes and sizes. McCain is in almost every household and this allowed us to own the idea that if you eat together you are family and it’s mealtimes that make a family.


LBB> The insight that "81% of families agree that being in a family which can sometimes disagree is a positive thing" feels particularly hopeful in these times of division. What was it about that lesson that made it perfect for this campaign?

Chloe> The UK finds itself more divided than ever and there seems to be very little that we can all agree on. The reality of life is that we cannot all agree all the time, so we thought why not celebrate these differences? Differences can feel like negatives but actually they enrich life and certainly lead to better debates around the dinner table. In this latest film for McCain, we wanted to show that we may all be different but we need not be divided.


LBB> Divided times is definitely a theme that brands around the world are keying into. What was the most important consideration about how McCain would enter that conversation?

Chloe> It was important for us to show the diverse range of differences within families but not to take sides. We wanted to celebrate differences in a non-judgemental way, so we were careful to treat everyone’s opinions as equal and valid.


LBB> One of the many things that's striking about the script is that it doesn't skirt the issues. The script actually says "leave and remain"! What guided that decision?

Chloe> McCain is a great client because the brand wants to show real life. Society is so dominated by the Brexit debate, it has probably been debated across every dinner table in the UK, so it was vital to include it.


LBB> One stereotype that it was particularly interesting to see you confronting was the one about technology and the generational divide (the 'digital detoxers' being the youth). Why did you decide to include that and how does it fit into the broader message?

Chloe> We wanted to include technology use without being too stereotypical or critical; younger generations often get criticised for their overuse of tech (games consoles, internet, phones). But there are lots of activities younger generations do away from screens, and plenty of older people engage with technology. We didn’t want any point of difference we raised to pass judgement, but simply to reflect reality and celebrate it.


LBB> 'Daddy or Chips' is an ad from my childhood that really stays with me to this day. How has the brand moved on since those days and what has remained?

Chloe> McCain has always been a family orientated brand. ‘Daddy or Chips’ was beautifully simple and based in a human truth, and that still remains in the work McCain does now.


 

LBB> How did you go about casting the families in the ads? What were your priorities in that process? 

Jess> We’ve always wanted our families on screen to represent real families at home. When considering today’s society in the UK, this includes diversity of age, ethnicity, sexuality, physical ability etc. - there’s no mould. To really celebrate real modern family life, we always knew we would cast non-actors and real families. For ‘Differences’ we were casting for differences within the families themselves; such as hobbies, political opinion, personality, diet or religion - which is a really hard brief! But Knucklehead were great and found families with authentic differences. We wanted to represent different slices of British society. If they were comfortable in front of a camera that helped too.


LBB> What was shooting it like? It must have been hard to recreate that warm family atmosphere in the artificial environment of a shoot.

Jess> Finn [McGough, the director] is amazing at working with non-actors and getting them to feel comfortable on set. This is the fourth shoot we’ve done for McCain working with real people. Everyone, including the agency and McCain, is aware that casting real families means working with non-actors and so there’s only so much we can expect. But Finn and his crew always seem to get what’s needed, and what feels real and authentic.
 

LBB> What's your personal favourite moment or detail in the final ad?

Jess> There’s a moment where the two little brothers are watching TV and one of them grabs the remote. He has the cheekiest expression on his face after he defeats his brother in the battle for the remote. We loved this natural moment of sibling rivalry.

Featured Companies: LBB Editorial

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Genre: Dialogue , People