Providing campaign direction for Pukka Pies with applied semiotics

We believe that no brand is the same, nor should it be measured the same. We offer a range of research solutions to tackle any of your brand challenges. Discover how Pukka Pies used Applied Semiotics to fuel their new campaign strategy.

The challenge

Pukka Pies, a leading pie manufacturer, were looking to drive sales through a new ad campaign. The team wanted to understand the category landscape of the pie market in the UK; they also wished to understand how the classic pie evolved culturally over time. ​

Our solution

To help guide Pukka Pies in their aim of ‘putting more pies on people’s plates’, we combined primary research (qual and quant) with Applied Semiotics to provide both an ‘outside-in’ and ‘inside-out’ approach to the ‘pie’ category.  Pulling together consumer attitudes, brand communication analysis and cultural analysis we provided a full view of how people consume the category in the UK. ​

Specifically, Applied Semiotics was used to deconstruct the pie category via an in-depth analysis of pie brands in the UK. We analysed their packaging design, advertising and wider comms to unpick the various meanings at play. From wholesome family symbols through to its associations with sports; we unpicked and presented the various levels of meaning that exists via category codes. We then identified the residual, mainstream and emerging codes to explain how the category is evolving. ​

In our semiotic analysis we also included a particular focus on the Pukka Pie brand itself; this would ensure our recommendations to remain true to the brand heritage. The semiotics team worked side by side with the primary research consultants; the aim was to pull together these two insight streams into a story of ‘how people eat pies’, perceived and expressed by brands. ​


Our analysis provided a clear depiction of the category codes at play and how they evolved over time. We provided clear recommendations on which codes the brand should play into, to enable them to create a modern and culturally resonant campaign narrative.

“Working with the team enabled us to get a clear view of how we were perceived as a brand across all touchpoints, but also what people expected from us in the future.  The research and semiotics study helped inform our repositioning in 2019, including packaging and creative” 

Rachel Cranston, Head of Marketing, Pukka, The People’s Pie