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
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.