Havas Dublin wins Flahavan’s oats

Havas Dublin has been appointed by Ireland’s best-known producer of breakfast cereal porridge oats, Flahavan’s, following a three-way pitch with creative agencies Boys+Girls and The Public House. The account was handled by Irish International and its successor BBDO Dublin (now TBWA) for many years. As well as marketing traditional porridge oats, the family-owned company extended its portfolio with fruit porridges and oat biscuit snacks.

E Flahavan was founded in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford in 1785 and is Ireland’s oldest family-owned food company. John Noonan joined to head up marketing and sales in 1997. His work in repositioning Flahavan’s as a healthy food brand and shifting it from a production and distribution-led strategy to a brand-led focus, competing head-on with cereal giants Kellogg, Nestle and Weetabix, resulted in improved  share and profits.


In 2009, Noonan was rewarded for his input by being named Marketer of the Year by Marketing.ie. Qualitative studies by B&A found that there were two issues which Flahavan’s needed to address if it was to pose a serious challenge in the market. Primarily, it needed to address and communicate with consumers on two fronts – brand value and health. With hot oats costing less than 10 cent a serving, the price of porridge was a lesser factor.

Noonan’s strategy emphasised oats’ health credentials and combined it with the brand’s core values of Irishness and trust. He launched 18 new oat products in drums, sachets and portable pots with strong packaging designs. The company earned listings with Asda, Sainsbury and Waitrose and later exported to the US. Flahavan’s current marketing director Judith McQuillan said brand investment will continue to be a growth driver for the business.


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