MATCH of the Day presenter Gary Lineker is one of England’s greatest ever footballers, not to mention an accomplished broadcaster.
And you might have noticed him in a few adverts for crisps over the years! In an exclusive chat he talks about balancing the responsibilities of being ‘flavour of month’.
PICTURE the scene: you’ve had a mishap and are laying in hospital with nothing for company but a bowl of fruit and some tatty magazines.
But in the bed next to you is none other than Gary Lineker!
No, the medication isn’t having strange side-effects – it’s the new ad for Walkers crisps… a brilliant new marketing campaign that once again sets Gary apart from his peers.
And this is him all over – a career in and around the six-yard box in which he played with a seemingly permanent smile on his face; an apparent seamless transition into someone in front of the camera who could mix effortless professionalism with the ‘boy next door’ image; and an unrelenting passion for prawn cocktail.
Indeed, the wacky Walkers crisps commercials have become so synonymous with Lineker since he became the face of the brand in 1995 that Gary even introduces himself on Twitter account as: “Once kicked a ball about. Now talk about kicking a ball about. Still flogging spuds.”
And still flogging spuds he is. This latest campaign promotes Walkers MixUps – a classic, crunchy combo of the brands we all love.
“I think it’s a great idea to have all of those family favourites in one bag including Monster Munch, Doritos, Wotsits and French Fries. It’ll certainly put an end to the arguments in every family’s household.”
Mention to Lineker that it has been 20 years since his first Walkers advert and he jokes: “That’s great I’ve lasted so long, but in another sense it’s quite depressing as it gives an indication of just how old I am!
“I guess it’s a part of me now, and I’ve been delighted to be involved with Walkers, although it was never meant to last this long!
“Indeed, the first ad back in 1995 was meant to be a complete one-off, but it was so popular we did another and then another. I couldn’t possibly envisage the longevity the campaign has had, but it’s great to be part of something that has proved popular and successful.”
Lineker, the second highest international goalscorer in England’s history with 48 goals, is often referred to as ‘Leicester’s favourite son’, and it was that connection that first initiated the longstanding association, with Walkers also emerging from the Midlands city.
The first advert all those years ago played on Lineker returning home after his football career had finished following an injury-plagued spell in Japan.
Does he feel increased loyalty to Walkers because it’s a local Leicester company?
“Well certainly right at the start, in the first advert I was going back, wandering around Leicester and then, at the end, nicking the kid’s crisps, which worked so well.
“And a lot of the factories are still in Leicester, although it’s now a global brand.”
Lineker certainly balances the demands of his commercial and professional work. “I could dress up either job as being some hugely important and taxing demand on my time, but the truth is I love both. I’m extremely lucky in what I do and football is such a fast evolving sport that there’s always another story coming round.
“People criticise football because of the money it generates and the wealth that it now holds within its grasp. But when I was playing in the 1980s it was criticism of an altogether different kind – it was all hooliganism, poor facilities and crumbling grounds. You have to ask if it’s really such a bad place now compared to what it was.”
Lineker, who has also welcomed Gazza, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate into the Walkers stable, not to mention music icon Lionel Ritchie, is certainly set to be the face of the brand going forward. After all, he even had a flavour named after him!
“Yes the pack was called Salt and Lineker for a while – that was fantastic. When they changed the name back to salt ‘n’ vinegar it was obviously hugely disappointing! Despite that though, it’s still my favourite flavour!”
Brand new Walkers MixUps are available now in family-size sharing bags of snacks, popcorn or crisp mixes at retailers nationwide. Watch the ad by visiting YOUTUBE.COM/WALKERSCRISPS