FREECUTHBERT: How a single tweet sparked a campaign that became Aldi’s biggest ever news story


McCann Manchester is the agency behind Aldi’s explosive growth. Provocative, humorous, irreverent work over 18 years has seen the discounter rise from ridiculed foreign oddity to the epitome of savvy shopping. “Your mum shops at Aldi” used to be a playground taunt. Now, it’s simply confirmation of her shopping shrewdness.

Aldi’s path to fame began with Like Brands, a 10-year campaign that established their now-famous swashbuckling personality and was voted ‘Ad of the decade’ by the British public.

Like Brands success owed much to us leaning into Aldi’s underdog status, and their piratical stance against the navy of the established supermarkets. The campaign succeeded, ultimately showing that quality wasn’t a price you pay for paying the price you pay at Aldi.

Other notable campaigns include the much-acclaimed Kevin the Carrot who, since his debut in 2016, has even eclipsed John Lewis to become Britain’s new Christmas ad tradition.

Which brings us to #FreeCuthbert, a campaign described by Creative Review as ‘a social media sensation’, where the legal travails of a look-a-like caterpillar cake were turned into the most awarded social campaign of the decade – all starting from a single, swashbuckling tweet.


It’s very likely you’ve eaten a Marks and Spencer Colin the Caterpillar. It’s been a children’s birthday party staple for over 30 years, filling the mouths of kids since 1990. With the success of Colin, it was only natural that other supermarkets followed suit and started selling similar caterpillar cakes. Tesco has Curly, Asda has Clyde, Sainsbury’s has Wiggles and Morrison’s has Morris. Aldi, meanwhile, has Cuthbert.

On the morning of 15th April 2021, Marks and Spencer’s launched legal action against Aldi for infringing a trademark on their Colin the Caterpillar Cake. Cuthbert was, they alleged, a copy-caterpillar. So, what were we to do?


Our strategy was simple: get the public on our side. After all, for its legal ramifications, this was a silly squabble over a children’s chocolate cake. If we thought it was ridiculous, surely the public would, too?

We had to work quickly and take control of the narrative. Rather than focusing on winning against M&S in the High Court, we wanted to win in the court of public opinion.

Sticking to our piratical, ‘loveable disruptor’ reputation, we decided to fight back with humour and empathy. So, on the same day we first heard that M&S was starting legal action against us – we created what was to become Aldi’s biggest ever news story. The #FreeCuthbert movement began fighting back.


The #FreeCuthbert campaign turned a potentially bad news story overwhelmingly in Aldi’s favour. We won the hearts, minds and mouths of the public. #FreeCuthbert is Aldi’s biggest news story in memory, with more than 1,400 pieces of written coverage. And now the most awarded social campaign of the decade, picking up at Cannes, The Webbys, Eurobest and more. All from a bit of agile thinking and some tactful tweets about cake.

And best of all, we raised money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Plus, it was all for £0 media spend. Which is the cherry on top of the caterpillar cake.

Trended #1 in the UK on Twitter, twice
More than £5M in earned media
+500M social impressions


How Aldi’s ‘Free Cuthbert’ campaign won the supermarket caterpillar wars

FREECUTHBERT: How a single tweet sparked a campaign that became Aldi’s biggest ever news story and turned the tide against M&S in the ‘case of the copy-caterpillars’.

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