THE judges were unanimous. Munch had proved himself to be a magic dragon for primary school children in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, and had played an important role in increasing the popularity of school meals.
Kirklees Metropolitan Council had to work "munch munch harder" with all the people involved in its campaign than other entries for the group marketing award, the judges decided.
Star of the show was Munch, a dragon who in the opinion of the judges, captured the imagination of young children and was more than just a passing fad. It was Munch who had spread the word and promoted school meals, successfully fighting off the packed lunch challenge.
"It was a most enthusiastic entry with a lot of evidence of staff commitment. It also proves that successful campaigns don't have to cost an arm and a leg," summarised Robert Harwood, general manager of the Rutland Hotel, last year's winner of the award.
The £24,000 campaign was aimed at pupils, parents, teachers, the council and the staff who deliver the service. Parents whose children were starting school were a primary target.
They received a letter from Les Urquhart, head of Kirklees Catering& Cleaning Services, inviting them to visitthe school to see how much school dinnershad changed. They also received a starter pack with sample menus giving them 12 good reasons to choose school meals for their children.
For Munch the road to stardom was rapid.
Between April 1993 and March 1994 the dragon visited schools, spent time with the children and promoted the message of healthy eating through school meals.
He was a generous visitor, leaving some 1,000 Munch mugs and 3,000 Munch pencil cases as souvenirs.
The publicity machine included newsletters, memos for teachers, competitions and a poster campaign which proved so popular that four of the posters were stolen.
Munch also found time to attend galas and summer events as well as helping Mr Blobby in turning on the Christmas lights in Huddersfield.
To capitalise on the friendly dragon's sudden success, contingency funds were used to plaster his name and picture over catering vans.
Some 30,000 people are estimated to haveseen the character during the year and thepress have not tired of the photo opportunities which he presents. To date he has appeared34 times in local newspapers which have a circulation between them of over 161,000 copies.
The judges were looking for results and found them in the Munch campaign.
One primary school experienced a 25% increase school meals eaten, while the average increase across all 173 schools was 5%.
The campaign was a winner with its target markets. Head teachers and parents complimented the starter packs; children wrote to thank Munch for his visit and catering staff welcomed the opportunity to become better acquainted with the children through the campaign. n