Mondelez giant Cadbury 'returns to family roots' in £12m marketing overhaul

Cadbury is banking on its heritage as a family brand to help recapture the magic and “reconnect with consumers” as part of £12m global push which centres around everyday moments of generosity.

Armed with a new creative agency in the form of VCCP, the chocolate maker has ditched the quirky and colourful creative it has become synonymous with thanks to a six-year long 'Free the Joy' campaign. Instead, its brand equity lead Benazir Barlet-Batada described the refresh as a “more down to earth” proposition.

“We’ve decided it’s right time now to take the Cadbury brand back to its roots,” Barlet-Batada told The Drum, saying that a move away from the 'Joy' marketing – which was meant to be a decade-long platform – was a matter of "innovation".

Cadbury has now launched an emotive ad telling the story of a little girl who enters a newsagent and approaches the counter to buy a Dairy Milk, not for herself but for her hardworking mum.

Having never made a purchase before the girl pulls out her purse to pay and in lieu of money presents a small collection of trinkets to the shopkeeper. The man behind the counter accepts the offer of a button, a fake diamond ring and a plastic medal, before returning to her a miniature unicorn as ‘change’ before she hands the chocolate to her mum outside.

A new strapline – ‘There’s a glass and a half in every one’ – makes reference to the brand’s historical recipe which called for a strict amount of milk in every half-pound chocolate bar, as well as the fact that there is kindness in every individual.

Barlet-Batada said the brand is looking to build on the philanthropy demonstrated by its 1824 Brummie founder, John Cadbury. The businessman is best known for the creation of the Bournville village, centered around Cadbury's founding factory, which included homes for the workers and a medical service. He was also a pioneer for pension reform.

“It’s always been a family brand, founded on generous principles that enabled real moments of human connection and we felt that now was the time to move to a more down to earth and realistic proposition that celebrates the brand’s values.”

A number of iterations, featuring various Cadbury products will be unveiled over the coming year under the strapline.

Brand perception

When it comes to consumer perception, however, it's been a rocky road for the much-loved family brand since it was purchased by US Kraft spinoff Mondelez for £11.5bn in 2010.

A series of changes also perturbed customers, with unfavorable headlines over the past seven years which have drawn attention to changes to the beloved Creme Egg recipe, the "roundening" of Dairy Milk chocolate and moving the bar's production out of Bournville to Poland.

So just how challenging it will be for Cadbury to reconcile its corporate ownership with a return to family values?

Barlet-Batada implied that from the brand's point of view, the two were distinct: "It's not about us [Mondelez] with this positioning, it's about shining a light on those authentic moments of human nature. It's really about the British nation, and what Cadbury has always stood for."

Although Cadbury is still one of the top brands in the confectionary category, data from YouGov's BrandIndex, which takes into consideration factors like the quality and customer perception of a brand, has shown that since 2012 its score among consumers has dropped from just over 43 to 25.6.

To the contrary, a recent study placed Cadbury as Brits' top brand ahead of Marks & Spencer. This follows on from a £75m investment in the John Cadbury-founded Bourneville factory in its historic West Midlands plant, with the firm promising that the return to Dairy Milk production back to the UK.

"That's something we're very proud of, and it's definitely the right thing to be doing," said Barlet-Batada.

This new campaign will be further underpinned by digital, social, PR, experiential and sampling activations, as well as a second TV ad later in the year.

In addition, brand new out of home showcase the Cadbury Dairy Milk 'glass and a half of milk icon' alongside other positive symbols, such as a heart, smiley face and thumbs up.

The outdoor campaign will show no Cadbury branding, instead siimply featuring the new tagline.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering events in Europe and the US like Ad Week, Dmexco, Dreamforce and Ciclope.

All by Rebecca