John West rejects the rest and hands account to Havas

john westJohn West, the UK canned fish brand forever synonymous with the strapline “It’s what John West reject” as well as the combative “Bear” ad, has consolidated its creative and media business into Havas following a competitive pitch.

Havas London and Havas Media pitched jointly for the account against Pablo and MullenLowe London in the final stages of the process, which was managed by Oystercatchers.

The agencies will now run strategic planning, creative development and all advertising, direct marketing, and digital media spend, including instore and shopper marketing activity.

The appointment, which marks another integrated win for Havas’ King’s Cross Village, comes as John West looks to move further into the health and nutrition space, capitalising on the health benefits of fish as a natural source of protein and Omega-3.

John West marketing director Jon Burton said: “This is an exciting time for John West and we’re delighted to have Havas on board to help fulfill our ambitions. We were impressed by their deep understanding of our business and passion for John West.”

“Together, we’re looking to unlock significant growth opportunities for the brand. As consumers increasingly put health and well-being at the forefront of their purchasing decisions, enjoying fish as part of a nutritious, protein-rich diet is one of the little steps we can all take towards leading a more balanced lifestyle.”

Havas London chief executive Xavier Rees, who is also boss of Havas Helia, commented: “John West is a properly iconic brand that deserves great advertising. They’ve got big ambitions for the future and we can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

“Winning any pitch feels good – but this is a win that’s shown our Havas Village model at its best, pulling together a tight crew of our best brains across creative and media. Combine that with such a special brand and it’s a win that feels particularly gratifying.”

John West Foods was established in 1857, and is currently owned by Thai Union Group of Thailand. The brand first started advertising on TV in the 1950s, introducing the strapline “It’s the fish that John West reject that makes John West the best” a decade later.

In 2000, Leo Burnett devised the John West Bear ad, filmed in the Scottish Highlands. It starts in the style of a wildlife documentary, as a group of grizzly bears catch salmon at the mouth of a river. Suddenly a John West fisherman runs into the scene and starts fighting one of the bears for rights to the fresh fish. The bizarre kung fu-style bout ends when the fisherman distracts the bear by pointing to an imaginary eagle and kicks him where it hurts. By 2006 the ad had been viewed over 300 million times and was the sixth most viewed video online.

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