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'Chocolates make Christmas better': Cadbury’s marketing manager Matthew Williams on shareable content and introducing celebrities

By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

November 13, 2014 | 4 min read

“Last year was more traditional,” Cadbury’s marketing manager Matthew Williams admitted of the company’s Christmas ad campaign, “but we felt we could do something better”.

It was for this reason that the chocolate brand teamed up this year with ITV to create a short film starring six celebrities from the channel: Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness, Christine Bleakley, Phillip Schofield and Stephen Mulhern, which will launch on Friday 14 November during Coronation Street.

The ITV partnership came after the chocolate manufacturer started working on this year’s Christmas campaign back in January.

“The reality is there are so many new Christmas adverts that it is really hard to stand out from the crowd. We started putting our thinking caps on in January on how we could do something different. For us, we’re about bringing everyone together for Christmas, bringing a moment of joy. We’re in everyday life.

“We looked at a few different options and then met with ITV. ITV is similar to us in that it’s a brand that is in every household in the UK and is pretty much relevant, authentic and genuine.

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“When I started marketing, you worked out a formula and replayed that formula the next time. That’s not true any more. If you want to have a great campaign that will have an effect on consumers and result on investment, you have to always try new things and try things differently - not just accept what you did last time. That’s what we tried to do.”

It is the first time that Cadbury has turned to celebrities for a Christmas campaign – having eschewed Christmas ads for almost a decade until last year – and this meant huge logistical challenges for the brand.

Organising getting all of the celebrities into one place at the one time was difficult, he admitted, but it helped that Cotton and Lemon had worked together before to kick-start the conversation.

“Cadbury’s is such a famous brand that we don’t need celebrities to make our films relevant or get noticed like some other brands might do, so we don’t have experience using them.”

The five short unscripted films will show the six celebrities “fuelled by festive cheer and chocolate” playing games such as charades, wrapping presents and doing other Christmas tasks.

This will then be continued on social platforms with fans being given the opportunities to get involved, with Williams suggesting that Vine could be used to show a charade, and let fans guess what it could be.

“We’re confident that we’ve got the content to get great conversations going,” he said, suggesting that in the crowded Christmas market, it is the sharability of ads that make their success.

“Especially at this time of the year, it has to be content that is worth watching and worth sharing. We think that is what we’ve got.

“With working with just one partner, you have to work hard to make sure you still get great reach and coverage across the whole of the nation. With the reach of ITV, that’s not really a challenge. Through the ITV channels and our channels, we’ll be reaching over 70 per cent of the UK.”

Williams is confident that the campaign will be well received, partially because the brand is seen as a part of Christmas. This was exemplified last month when the company revealed it would not be making its chocolate coins this winter, something which led to many taking to Twitter to voice their disappointment.

“Cadbury as a brand is part of everyday life. When you say to people ‘imagine a world without Cadbury, they get genuinely upset, and you can’t say that about a lot of brands. Cadbury is something that makes Christmas better, we’re not trying to force ourselves into the conversation.”

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