‘Quiet in a brash category’: why Cadbury trusts its winning ad formula
As FMCG brands brace for a tough year ahead, many will be rethinking their ads in a bid to retain market share. Cadbury says it won’t be mixing up its long-running advertising strategy, however.
Mondelez-owned confectionery company Cadbury recently released a new ad called ‘Garage’, a heart-warming spot set in a petrol station that told the story of a father gifting his grown daughter a bar of chocolate. It is the latest installment in a now four-year-old brand platform titled ‘Generosity’ that spotlights simple moments of kindness.
‘Garage’ follows ‘Mum’s Birthday’, ‘Fence’ and ‘Bus’, which all center on ordinary Brits, with the wider campaign’s longevity unusual in a category facing increasing pressure to generate sales as consumer tighten their purse strings. Cadbury says it has landed on a winning formula.
In the four years the campaign has been running it has added $1.86bn to Cadbury’s brand value. It was worth $5.73bn in 2022, up from $5.16bn in 2021 and $4.1bn in 2020.
VCCP is the agency behind the strategy and its executive creative director, Jonny Parker, puts its success down to being more muted and sympathetic in a category full of “vacuous, loud, brash” marketing and “otherworldly wackiness”.
“We’re quiet. We’re relatable. We tell powerful little stories that we all relate to and that make us feel something. And that means making them as real to life for real people up and down the country.”
FMCG brands are going through a tumultuous time with UK inflation at around 10.7%. Last year, to cope with spiraling costs, Cadbury was forced to shrink its family-size Dairy Milk bars by 20g while retaining a £2 price tag.
Analytics firm IRI warned that a “price war” would hit FMCG brands this year as they feel the squeeze from private labels. Small and medium-size brands are already seeing their share of food sales fall while supermarket own brands are increasing.
Tesco’s chief executive warned last week that UK inflation hasn’t yet reached its peak as consumers trade down for cheaper products, which could continue to hurt Cadbury.
Despite tough economic conditions, Cadbury has vowed to stick to its strategy and keep its marketing consistent. Parker says there is still more to come from the ’Generosity’ platform, which is anchored to the strapline ’There’s a glass and a half in everyone.’
He says the tagline has “proved to be a powerful brand belief that continues to feel relevant”. While the core messaging will stay the same, VCCP is tasked with keeping it fresh and distinctive with each new advert.
The three previous stories centered on young children to “amplify” the notion of generosity, explains Parker, since kids prefer not to share. For its fourth installment, VCCP tasked itself with finding a story with grown-ups. “We look for really relatable universal insights about generous behavior. These tend to be the small things we do that actually have a big impact.”
When working up ideas for the ads, the team at VCCP has taken inspiration from little moments of generosity in their own lives – either generosity they’ve experienced or dispensed. “They are real situations from our lives and we then add chocolate into the story.”
Parker says it is crucial when adding the chocolate into the storyline to be natural. “If it feels forced then it’s not right and we move on.”
With Cadbury’s YouGov brand popularity score consistently between 84% and 82% for the past two years, Parker concludes that the ’Generosity’ platform has ”proved to be a powerful brand belief that continues to feel relevant”.