How Jacob's gets the ads out of the Fig Rolls


Media & Marketing:"How do Jacob's get the figs into the Fig Rolls?" is possibly the longest surviving tag line in Irish advertising. Childhood memories of the elusive Jim Figgerty, the one man who knew the secret baking process, can still bring a smile to the face of even the most world-weary 40-somethings.

It's more than 40 years since the strapline was created but it has retained its magic for generations and is still used in Fig Rolls advertising. The puzzle that bemused children in the 1960s still baffles their children today, even if the presentation has changed.

Jim Figgerty was the joint creation of Mack Kile, managing director of advertising agency Irish International and his deputy, Jim Hoblyn. According to Hoblyn, he sold the Figgerty concept to the Jacob's marketing director, Eric Cooke, on the back of an envelope in the Buttery bar on Dawson Street.

Fig Rolls is the number-one biscuit brand in the Republic, with 8.3 million packets sold every year. The brand is now owned by Jacob Fruitfield, which supports Fig Rolls with an annual spend of €300,000 on television spots and €100,000 on press advertising, according to head of marketing Sandra Gahan.

The Figgerty campaign debuted in 1962 when Jacob's placed the first full-colour advertisements to appear in The Irish Times. The press campaign began as a search for the whereabouts of Jim Figgerty, with captions such as "Jim Figgerty Please Come Home", "Jim Figgerty Please Contact Your Office" and "Have You seen This Man?".

The publicity generated public awareness that brands today would envy, as many people mistook the advertisements as notices genuinely looking for a missing person.

With the launch of RTÉ, Figgerty made his debut on television with a series of six advertisements devised by Irish International. They were made by Theo Hogers's production company Cinevision and were filmed in Spain, California and Wales. One of the best-remembered executions was Des Keogh, playing the part of the newsreader, reporting that revolutionary forces in Figgeria had seized control of the capital Figgerosi. "As you know Figgeria is the sole supplier of the dainty figs used in Jacob's Fig Rolls," relates a worried Keogh, before the advertisement cuts to a correspondent reporting live from the revolution.

You can watch the grainy black and white advertisement, and its the madcap antics, on the company website,

As the Figgerty character, played by tenor Patrick Griffin, captured the imagination of the Irish public, Hoblyn and Kile exploited the advertisements' appeal with stunts that included going into hotels and having Figgerty paged. At one point there was a racehorse called Jim Figgerty and questions were even raised in the Dáil.

Sales of Fig Rolls shot up and other biscuit brands in the Jacob's portfolio also benefited.

These days the Fig Rolls advertisements use animation created by Brown Bag productions, best known for Give Up Yer Aul' Sins. The creative agency is Young Euro RSCG, with media buying handled by Starcom Mediavest.

Regrettably, Jim Figgerty is no more. For today's young consumers, the characters - animated kids in school uniforms - speculate whether it's elves or aliens who put the figs in the Fig Rolls. Judging by the number of eight-year-olds who ask their parents to put Fig Rolls on the shopping list, Kile and Hoblyn's tag line is still a winner.

RTÉ to offer job site

RTÉ is expanding its website by offering a job site to its users and has been talking to potential partners including, Recruit Ireland and Fás in recent weeks. A decision is expected this week.

The RTÉ site gets more than 29 million page impressions a month from 1.3 million unique users. RTÉ has proposed a price of between €60,000 and €36,000.

Meanwhile, the station is in the market for a title sponsor for its Saturday & Sunday Game Live series for the 2007 GAA championship. The asking price of €470,000 covers about 50 live hurling and football matches. According to Precision Media, Sunday Game Live had an average audience of 312,000 adults last year.

Green PR in Britain

Ireland was rapped on the knuckles recently by the European Environmental Agency because of the growth in its greenhouse gas emissions.That hasn't stopped Enterprise Ireland planning a new PR campaign in the UK to promote Irish companies' expertise in the environment and waste management sectors.

The agency has appointed London PR firm Eulogy to spread the word. The campaign will highlight the environmental benefits that Irish companies can offer and the ways in which they are supporting Government legislation such as the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive, which comes into force in the UK on July 1st.

Eulogy was founded by Irishman Adrian Brady in 1996 and is ranked one of the top 40 agencies in the UK by PR Week.