Warburtons: Can Clooney ever top Peter Kay? Unlikely

warburton clooneyWith Monday’s easing of lockdown meaning we will soon be able to go inside a pub and have a hug – and even more in a hotel – you might think we would be looking at one of the scores of ads from brands celebrating the new freedoms. Think again, as this week it’s all about that other great British institution…toast.

That’s right folks, we are looking at the launch of yet another Hollywood-inspired TV ad for Bolton’s finest bakers, Warburtons, with George Clooney the latest celebrity to follow in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, the Muppets and local “fat lad” Peter Kay.

The ad, devised by Engine and Freuds, opens with company chairman Jonathan Warburton preparing a piece of toast to eat for his 3pm snack. He goes through quite a ritual; lovingly peeling open the packaging, and caressing and savouring the slice of bread before placing it in the toaster to achieve the perfect crispy finish.

After it pops up and lands on his plate in dramatic style, Jonathan then slowly spreads a thick layer of butter on and is just about to tuck in when a receptionist runs into the room declaring: “Mr Warburton, George Clooney is on the line!” Clooney’s face can be seen on a laptop, where apparently he is waiting to pitch an idea to Warburton (not that you could guess that from the ad).

But our George is left dumbfounded when Warburton declares “He can wait,” and is seen closing the laptop so he can eat his toast. Clooney can then be heard saying: “He hung up?”

Not exactly a taxing role for a man who has appeared in more ads that you can shake a stick at but the fee paid to the star for his participation has been donated to the Clooney Foundation For Justice – founded by the actor and his wife, international human rights lawyer Amal – so we can’t be too mean.

Not only that, but George also agreed to say: “It’s not every day your call is turned down for a slice of toast, but needless to say I had a lot of fun filming this spot. It was great working with the Warburtons team and I’m thankful for the support they are providing to the Clooney Foundation For Justice.” (This quote probably took longer to put together than his appearance in the ad.)

Still, company chairman Jonathan Warburton added: “We are thrilled to have George Clooney star in our latest campaign. Video calls have become part of normal life for so many of us during the last year, but George Clooney popping up on screen was quite a surprise!

“At Warburtons, we pride ourselves on the care that goes into making sure that every single loaf is as fresh and high quality as possible. Quality is truly at the heart of our 145-year-old business, and this new ad is a real celebration of that passion, and we hope it will bring a smile to those watching.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, let’s face it, George has never exactly been a shrinking violet when it comes to brand endorsement and, according to one report at least, has starred in ads for Nespresso, Martini, Fastweb, Police sunglasses, Budweiser, Fiat, British Airways, Aquafina, El Corte Inglés, The Learning Channel, AT&T, Lancelot whisky and Kirin beer.

Even so, this one must have been the easiest of the lot.

But is it amusing? Quite, but not a patch on De Niro’s Goodbagels or Peter Kay’s “Pride and Breadjudice”. Does it make us hunger for a slice of toast? You betcha. And that, after all, is the ultimate aim.

One problem for Warburtons is that we actually prefer a good old fashioned doorstop, cut thick from a proper loaf, rather than a slice of plastic white bread out of a packet. Still, the thought is there…

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “not quite the best thing since sliced bread” 7 out of 10

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