Food & Drink: McCain's jackets are ready to deliver

McCain called in Nexus Communications to handle a campaign for the launch of the food firm's Ready-Baked Jackets range - a frozen jacket potato that the firm claims tastes as if it has been baked in the oven but only takes five minutes to cook.

Ready and waiting: travellers test McCain's push-button concept
Ready and waiting: travellers test McCain's push-button concept

Campaign: The launch of McCain Ready-Baked Jackets
Client: McCain Foods
PR team: Nexus Communications
Timescale: January-March 2012
Budget: £70,000



  • To deliver a consumer-focused campaign to launch McCain Ready-Baked Jackets to drive trial and sales
  • To reach a mass audience from the start
  • To generate sales before above-the-line activity began.

Strategy and plan

Nexus targeted key media titles to create a buzz around the product in the build-up to the official campaign launch via a press day.

The media briefing involved recreating a recent McCain TV commercial, while branded press packs were distributed, along with organised samplings. A total of 73 journalists attended from 31 titles, including Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home. The press pack included a news release, facts and figures, nutritional information and recipes, while those who were unable to attend were sent takeaway menus followed by samples, toppings and press information.

To create a buzz online, 22 bloggers who covered the topics of family and food were targeted, with half agreeing to receive samples. Meanwhile an exclusive was organised with trade title The Grocer, with the release then sold into other industry publications.

Nexus worked alongside McCain agencies to bring the product on to the streets of the UK by creating fibreglass jacket potatoes and placing them at bus shelters across York, Manchester, London, Nottingham and Glasgow.

These were designed so that when consumers pressed a button, a hidden heating element gently warmed the potato and released the smell of a slow oven-baked jacket potato throughout the bus shelter.

The aroma was developed over three months in collaboration with a specialist scent laboratory to accurately match the scent of McCain Ready-Baked Jackets.

The bus shelters also dispensed money-off coupons for the product.

Measurement and evaluation

The launch of Ready-Baked Jackets was covered online by The Huffington Post, Mail Online, Yahoo and MSN. National papers including The Sun, The Guardian, The Independent, The Mail on Sunday and Sunday Mirror covered the launch. TV coverage included This Morning and The Wright Stuff. Blogs including Mummy Matters and Little Stuff were engaged, while coverage appeared in consumer titles including Closer, Chat and More. Further afield, coverage included Time Magazine and The Atlantic in the US, and The National Post in Canada.


The new product was the second biggest selling frozen line in Co-op stores during launch week. Research consultancy Hall & Partners found the product achieved a 14 per cent consumer brand awareness during the first month of the campaign.



This was a creative media and blogger relations campaign that generated product reviews across a wide range of UK media, contributing to strong sales results.

I loved the fibreglass jacket potatoes at bus shelters, an innovative way to sample while associating McCain's jacket potatoes with the experience of slow, oven-baked jacket potatoes.

Could more creative touches have been introduced to really highlight the taste or nutritional benefits of the McCain Ready-Baked Jackets versus the authentic jacket potato experience? For example, working with a nutritionist or chef; blind tastings with local and well-known food critics; or consumer blind tastings filmed and seeded on social media platforms.

The campaign could have been extended by the use of social media to drive advocacy: leveraging coupons online by allowing bloggers to distribute to their readership.

A live feed on Facebook from one of the bus shelters capturing people's reactions would have created engaging content.

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