Not only is Cadbury one of Britain’s most well-known brands, it’s also one of the nation’s oldest - first established in 1824.

Though taken over by Mondelez International in 2010, it has managed to retain its British headquarters (and its decidedly British disposition).

While Cadbury’s strategy has continually evolved over the years – with its recent ad taking on a more heart-warming tone – it has stayed at the forefront of consumer minds thanks to a constant stream of memorable marketing efforts. 

Here’s a run-down of 10 of the best.

1. Mum’s birthday

One of Cadbury’s biggest challenges has been staying relevant in recent years, especially as consumers are presented with greater choice (and a desire to sample less-sugary options). 

It appears sales have been declining as a result. Reports suggest Dairy Milk sales were down 3.1% last year, while YouGov’s BrandIndex shows that Cadbury’s ranking fell from 43.8 in February 2012 to 25.6 in January 2018.

In a bid to stay top-of-mind for consumers, Cadbury has decided to ditch its ‘Free the Joy’ tagline in favour of a focus on kindness. This is reflected in its latest TV campaign, which tells the story of a little girl attempting to buy a Dairy Milk for her mum’s birthday.  

The question is – will the campaign help to reconnect Cadbury with consumers? With the public increasingly said to desire brands that display human traits (i.e. emotional intelligence), it’s more sentimental theme of generosity could certainly strike a chord. 

2. A glass and a half pop-up shop

Alongside its television advert, Cadbury has also been focusing on experiential marketing to ramp up its reinvention efforts. Earlier this year, it opened its ‘Glass and a Half’ pop up shop in London’s Soho, where customers could trade in their own knick-knacks in exchange for bars of Dairy Milk.

The shop (which is now continuing its pop-up tour across the country) mimics the layout of the store depicted in the advert, and also sells Cadbury-themed newspapers and postcards to visitors.

While the pop-up is a nice bit of marketing in its own right, there’s also a philanthropic element which elevates the appeal for consumers. Cadbury is standing by its dedication to generosity by delivering all unwanted items to charity. And with visitors free to donate items as small (or large) as they like, it’s designed to encourage a cycle of giving.

3. The famous gorilla

Back in 2007, the sight of a gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins’s 1981 hit ‘In the Air Tonight’ became something of a viral sensation. In fact, Cadbury’s famous gorilla gained such popularity that it eventually went on to be named as the UK's favourite ever ad.

So, why did it capture the nation’s imagination quite so much?

At the time, consumers weren’t so used to the quirky, humour-driven advertising that is so prevalent today. What’s more, the advert was specifically designed to go against standard industry practice. There was no mention of Cadbury or even chocolate for that matter. Instead of telling consumers that the product would elicit happiness, the advert itself was designed to make viewers feel good. 

It has to be said, the success of the ad has arguably been a double-edged sword for Cadbury. While it created huge buzz (and swathes of spoofs) – the brand has failed to deliver anything as memorable since. But then again, that gorilla was always going to be a hard act to follow.

4. Snapchat singles sensations

Dairy Milk and Crème Egg are often the focus of Cadbury marketing campaigns, but in 2016, the brand decided it was time to shine a light on its less-exposed products. Its ‘Singles Sensations’ campaign focused on Crunchie, Wispa, Boost, Double Decker, and Twirl – and was specifically created to appeal to a younger audience.

So, instead of television or social media in general, it turned to Snapchat (which is largely made up of an audience of 16 to 24 year olds.) Cadbury created a number of bespoke brand lenses, including a pair of giant golden lips eating a Crunchie.

According to reports, Cadbury spent nearly half its yearly ad budget on the Snapchat campaign. But was it worth it? With its golden disco ball filter attracting nine million views, Cadbury generated a decent amount of engagement on the platform, making it a great example of how to use fun and ephemeral content to capture the interest of a core demographic.

5. How do you eat yours?

It’s been suggested that Cadbury is missing a trick by only selling its Crème Egg for four months of the year. However, I think that is part of the magic, with the brand’s marketing serving to ramp up excitement and interest from egg devotees during this time. 

There have been many cracking crème egg-related examples over the years, but the original 1997 advert featuring a young Matt Lucas is arguably one of the most memorable. 

Celebrating the childlike nature of the product, it’s an infectious advert which perfectly encapsulates the brand’s ‘joyful’ reputation. It also kicked off the famous ‘how do you eat yours’ tagline, which succeeded in starting a conversation about the product.

6. Crème egg café

One of the first forays into experiential marketing from Cadbury - it’s Crème Egg pop up café has been packed full of eager fans since it first appeared in 2015. As well as serving a range of egg-inspired treats including a Crème Egg toastie and Crème Egg and soldiers, it also gives visitors a chance to partake in a special egg hunt. 

This year, it has continued the theme with its Crème Egg Camp, elevating excitement with a limited edition white chocolate version.

It might seem a bit gimmicky – and some have even labelled it as a stunt to distract from the controversial decision to change the famous recipe. However, by giving die-hard fans a fun and unique experience (as well as the sense that they’re being let in on something exclusive), it has proved critics wrong, and appears to be in consistent demand.

7. Flavourism

While the majority of campaigns in this list are UK-based, ‘Flavourism’ from Australia deserves a mention due to the high level of success it achieved. After recognising that TV ads were failing to engage consumers, the brand partnered with Idomoo to create a mobile-driven campaign based on personalised video.

It developed the ‘Flavour Matcher’ app, which allowed users to find out their personality type by picking their favourite flavour. Participants then received a personalised video (based on photos and information gathered from their Facebook profiles) which they could tag and share on social media. 

According to reports, Cadbury generated huge engagement from it - 90% of people who received a video watched it until the very end, 65% clicked through, and 33.6% offered up their data to enter a competition. 

By utilising both mobile and Facebook, Cadbury managed to tap into its digital audience and create a highly shareable campaign.

8. AR advent calendar

Christmas and Easter are an understandably big focus for Cadbury, with other chocolate brands vying for sales of eggs and advent calendars each year.

In 2017, Cadbury integrated augmented reality into its Heroes advent calendar, giving consumers an extra way to countdown to the big day. Alongside standard chocolate, a unique selfie filter was also hidden behind each window, including reindeer antlers and snow angel wings. Users could access the AR element by scanning their advent calendar with the corresponding app, as well as share their selfies on social with the hashtag #cadvent.

With most advent calendar’s following a fairly standard formula, Cadbury’s use of technology differentiated its Heroes product from the rest. What’s more, it also allowed the brand to capture highly valuable consumer data, which is likely to be used for marketing or retargeting purposes in future.

9. Chocolate charmer

Moving on from the gorilla (and its dancing eyebrows follow-up), Cadbury continued its series of high-concept ads with the ‘Chocolate Charmer’. 

Interestingly, the ad – which sees the charmer ‘conducting’ towers of spinning chocolate into magical bars of Dairy Milk – ended up generating the most success online. 

Though it was run cross-channel, reports suggest that the online campaign provided ROI almost four times higher than the TV campaign. This means that while online accounted for just 7% of the budget, it generated 20% of sales. YouTube was also a particular success, with Promoted Videos delivering three times the ROI.

So why did it create so much success online instead of TV? According the Cadbury, additional reach was always the main goal, with the brand able to target online users that might not have seen the advert on television. Meanwhile, it was successful in reaching younger audience and driving sales among this demographic as a result.

Proving that planning and strategy can be just as important as the creative itself - it’s a great example of what a cross-channel approach can achieve.

10. Joyville taster

Despite being one of the oldest brands around, Cadbury isn’t one to lag behind when it comes to social media. On the contrary, it’s executed some highly unique and engaging social campaigns over the years

The ‘Joyville Taster’ is one stand-out – a Facebook-centric campaign that focused on finding the first-ever ‘Honorary Taster’. To enter, users were required to describe Dairy Milk in one word, doing so either on a dedicated mini-site or within the Facebook app. 

The winning prize was a trip to the Cadbury factory, a year’s supply of Dairy Milk, and the chance to be the first to sample new products.

Although the ‘taster’ aspect was purely a marketing ploy - hammed up to sound like the world’s greatest job – the reason it worked is because it did actually offer consumers a tangible reward.

Who wouldn’t want to be the first to get their hands on new chocolate bars? Cadbury cleverly tapped into this unique proposition, simultaneously capitalising on Facebook’s large and highly valuable user base.

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 4 April, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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