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John Lydon and the Country Life haka.

John Lydon and the Country Life haka.

Advertising effectiveness moves in mysterious ways.

One of the unexpected effects of the Country Life Butter campaign featuring ex Sex Pistol John Lydon was that it funded the reformation and American tour of PIL (Public Image Limited).

As Jimmy Kimmel says in this interview, he is “fuelled by butter.”


Given the attendant risks, I don’t know many clients that would have embraced someone like John Lydon as a brand ambassador. To call him a loose cannon is a major understatement.

But, to be fair to him, he appears to have been steadfastly loyal, whilst also remaining steadfastly faithful to his uniquely unhinged, gives-great-copy, punk persona.

He ends the clip above with this gem about Sarah Palin.

Instead of moose hunting she should put that gun up her rear end. And load it with butter! BRITISH BUTTER!

This isn’t a new campaign. In fact it’s nearing its second birthday. Here’s the TV ad in case you haven’t seen it.


I was prompted to write about it by a radio ad from the same campaign, in which said brand ambassador effectively parks the Country Life tanks on the Anchor Butter lawn.

The offending line from the radio ad is this.

Do I buy Country Life butter because unlike Anchor from New Zealand they support our great British dairy farmers?

And offending it appears to have been, judging by the angry reaction from the Federated Farmers Of New Zealand as reported in this Daily Mail article.

Whilst today is perhaps not the best day to be having a pop at our Kiwi cousins, in light of the tragic events in Christchurch, it is nonetheless an entirely reasonable strategy to draw attention to the provenance of a competitor (as long as it is done in a legal, decent, honest and truthful fashion), especially when 39% of people previously assumed that Anchor was a British brand according to the Country Life marketing director.

You have to like a brand with the challenger balls to go toe to toe with a bigger competitor.

And Country Life appears to have chosen the right guy in John Lydon to perform what is the advertising equivalent of a haka. It’s a taste of their own medicine that the Kiwis at the Federated Farmers Of New Zealand don’t appear to like.

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