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Awards case study: McCain revives declining market share with a six-fold increase in sales appointments | B2B Marketing

Through its campaign by Torch, McCain Original Choice chips went from a declining in market share to a six-fold increase in direct sales appointments. Here’s how.


Market share was sliding for McCain Original Choice chips. Being 65% more expensive than alternative products and with a brand that was not visible to the end consumer, it had to fight to maintain its market leading position with key customers.

The strategy was to create an entirely customer-centric campaign taking the McManus pub chain on a journey to demonstrate how the functional benefits of McCain chips could drive more cash in the till.

In addition, a breakthrough street food team, Original Fry Up Material, were brought in. They create hybrids of pub classics in street food formats and recipes with the McCain products to inspire McManus and other pub groups.

Using integrated mechanics including video, digital and print trade press plus experiential work, it put customers at the heart of a campaign for a highly sceptical target audience that values peer-to-peer recommendations above anything else. The McManus Group is now a vocal advocate in the market for McCain.

The result? Market share decline reversed and more than 200 acquisition targets engaged with the national account sales teams.


McCain in foodservice is an entirely different proposition to retail. Its products are created for chefs and casual dining operators to deliver great, consistent results every time. Being a well-know brand in retail can actually have a negative effect in foodservice, with operators thinking the brand may not be ‘expert’ in understanding their needs.

The opposite is true. McCain has a dedicated foodservice team, with its own chefs working with operators across the UK, and supplies chains such as McDonalds, JD Wetherspoon and Nando’s, as well as thousands of independents.

Torch has partnered with McCain in foodservice for five years, over which time their business has doubled in foodservice, despite being over 60% more expensive than own label potato products, and with no brand visible front house. But the pressure to maintain that position is on.

McCain’s Original Choice chips are standard, everyday chips, which have been losing share to cheaper own-label products. To put this into perspective, McCain is around 65% more expensive. Pubs are the target audience for Original Choice chips and they need to be convinced to pay extra for McCain at a time when they are facing low profit margins and looking to cut costs.


The challenge was to find a way to justify the McCain Original Choice price premium, demonstrate the functional benefits of McCain Original Choice in a way that is memorable and relevant show McCain Foodservice as a supportive, quality solution provider.

The target audience is specifically mid-priced, community pubs with a solid food business. McCain has a good relationship with the pub trade but it cannot be taken for granted

Media, channels and techniques

A totally customer-centric campaign was created and the first step was recruiting the McManus Pub Group, which owns 16 pubs in the Midlands with different price points and target consumers. The campaign also involved an inspirational, yet relevant, street food operator to support with creative menu ideas, namely Original Fry Up Material.

Proving McCain Original Choice Benefits to McManus, they created a campaign to show that Original Choice chips would, quite literally, go the extra mile for McManus Pubs. They cooked 10kg of McCain chips and 10kg of cheaper chips and compared them.

The result was captured in a video central to the campaign

. It shows a ‘bucket race’ to see how many extra buckets of chips could be delivered by McCain. It has a retro-feel, in tune with how they needed to engage with every day pubs. Straight forward benefits of eight more buckets was more cash in the till. Memorable and compelling message.

They then used the content from the video to create assets, pushed out through targeted email, trade print and digital ads, social media and McCain sales force.

A digital ‘chip challenge’ game was placed online to promote the “extra mile” proposition, which supported lead generation across the pub sector.

Having demonstrated the functional benefits and value of McCain, 

they took the McManus pub team to visit one of the UK farms supplying it with quality potatoes

 so they could see first hand the quality and craft involved.

Helping McManus pubs make more from McCain Original Choice, using topped chip recipes created by the team at Original Fry Up Material, they demonstrated to McManus group how they could add new, street-food inspired ideas to the menu. 

The evening was videoed for use online and in sales meetings


Video and online channels were used to communicate the benefits and ideas that McCain Original Choice can deliver

, but they also needed to take the story directly to more pubs so they could see and taste the products first hand. To do this, it set up a food stand, called Pub 17, in collaboration with Original Fry Up Material, offering chips topped with a variety of different foods. This led to 220 strong sales leads.

Timescales of the campaign

January 2017:

  • Customer engagement piece – (McManus farm visit to follow a McCain potato on its journey from field to fork)
  • Chip challenge event
  • Kitchen trials across the McManus estate with McCain development chef to create topped chip recipes
  • Bespoke point of sale developed for trial.

February 2017:

  • Film content driven into market via media sales teams for product launch
  • Pub 17 event and follow up.

February-April 2017:

  • McCain social content drive
  • Trade press activity
  • Sales drive using video content as key tool.


  • ROI of 269%
  • Decline in market share halted via sales out wholesaler data
  • 220 high-opportunity sales appointments – a six-fold increase from 2016.

“This campaign really unlocked the power of peer-to-peer communication in our market with McManus not just becoming a customer, but an advocate that is now evangelical about the McCain brand and our story.” 

Jo Holborn, category and marketing director, McCain Foodservice

B2B Marketing Awards 2017 – winners

This submission won the award for 

‘Category 23: 

Best customer engagement/customer-centric initiative’

 at the B2B Marketing Awards 2017. ‘Torch x McCain Original Choice’ for McCain Foodservice by Torch.

See the full list of winners

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