ANALYSIS: Injecting energy into Cadbury chocolate

Cadbury is the latest food giant, to put its advertising weight behind the master brand. Claire Murphy investigates its thinking

Cadbury is the latest food giant, to put its advertising weight behind

the master brand. Claire Murphy investigates its thinking

Why should the UK’s biggest confectionery company, with a 30% share of

the pounds 3.2bn chocolate market, want or need to change its

advertising strategy?

Cadbury’s decision to plough pounds 8m over the next year into a master

brand campaign, as well as its sponsorship of Coronation Street, can be

broadly explained by two factors: media inflation and the need to inject

some excitement into the market.

Marketing director for Cadbury, Alan Palmer, has spent the two years

since he was appointed to the job searching for more effective ways of

spending the pounds 30m that the company pours into advertising and

promotions each year.

Over the past few years Cadbury has reduced the number of brands which

are supported by TV advertising, preferring to devote the largest chunks

of expensive air time to newer brands such as Time Out and Wispa Gold.

The need to get more bang from the marketing buck coincided with the

emergence of the idea that capitalising on the inherent chocolate links

of the Cadbury name may be an effective way to boost the market and

sales of the brand.

The chocolate market had been growing at up to 2% each year until the

late 80s. By last year growth had slowed down to a halt, hit by the

effect of innovation in snacks, ice-cream and soft drinks - all

competitors for a share of the impulse food market.

‘Savoury snacks brands have taken on the mantle of growth in recent

years,’ says Palmer. ‘What we are trying to do now is create a step

change in consumer desire for chocolate; the market needs energising.’

The idea of a master brand campaign is not a new one. Cadbury has

already screened versions in Argentina, Australia and Ireland, but it

has taken some years to bring it to UK screens.

The process accelerated last year when Palmer asked his roster of

advertising agencies to come up with a three-second Cadbury ident to add

to all sub-brand ads to reinforce the parent brand.

The ident never actually appeared and the resulting tussle with agencies

led Bartle Bogle Hegarty to resign its Cadbury business.

Palmer had also toyed with using ads from flagship brand Cadbury’s Dairy

Milk as a master brand campaign. But as the chocolate used in many of

the countlines is actually of a different consistency to Dairy Milk,

Cadbury became nervous of implying similarities between the two which

could be deemed misleading.

The final cut of the master brand campaign, which first screened on

August 30, was produced by Cadbury’s Irish agency, Peter Owens. The

agency has created Dairy Milk campaigns as well as master brand

campaigns for the Irish market. Creative from its Dairy Milk ads was

deemed suitable for the basis of the UK’s Cadbury umbrella campaign.

Over the past few years, other UK food companies have led the way in

airing TV advertising that supports the entire brand, rather than just

one product. Heinz, Crosse & Blackwell, McVitie’s and Birds Eye, all

discovered the merits of master brand campaigns, although each have

different interpretations of the strategy.

Heinz launched an umbrella TV campaign and stopped promoting individual

products, leaving it to the direct marketing to support lines such as

soup, ketchup and baby food. Birds Eye wants to upgrade the parent

branding on all advertising, which will promote different categories of

frozen food, rather than sub-brands.

Last year’s pounds 10m relaunch of Crosse & Blackwell featured TV ads

aimed at letting people know that the C&B branding was behind famous

sub-brands such as Branston Pickle.

Cadbury goes further than all of these brands in the sense that its new

ads will not feature any specific products. Creative treatments of icons

such as the purple colour and the glass and a half of milk will promote

the idea of Cadbury’s chocolate in essence.

In the ad a woman is shown in a dream-like environment surrounded by

motifs such as poured milk and melted chocolate in a brown room littered

with purple objects.

Unlike Heinz, individual brands will continue to receive TV support. In

fact, spending on countlines between September and December has been

increased to pounds 8.5m, up from pounds 5.88m last year (Register-


‘This is crucial for Cadbury,’ says an insider. ‘No matter how much

support it puts behind the Cadburyness campaign, consumers still develop

loyalty to individual countline brands. They don’t go into a shop saying

‘I must buy a Cadbury chocolate bar.’

But despite this autumn’s ads for Wispa Gold, Time Out, Roses, Milk Tray

and new products Darkness and Fuse, the main thrust of Cadbury’s

advertising strategy is now pitched at supporting the parent brand.

The Coronation Street sponsorship also represents a mighty backing for

the Cadbury name, although interactive promotion linked to the TV

credits allows a link back to individual bars.

Getting the balance right between support for the parent brand and for

sub-brands is as difficult as working out what mix of European and local

branding a company should use.

The test will be how well the umbrella campaign and the Coronation

Street sponsorship complement the individual brand campaigns, and

ultimately, how many chocolate bars and boxes march off the shelves.


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