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Anatomy of an Ad podcast: Why Cadbury’s ‘Secret Santa Postal Service’ resonated

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By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

March 20, 2023 | 4 min read

On this week’s episode, Kantar’s head of excellence Lynne Deason and Cadbury’s head of Christmas and Halloween Emma Jayne Paxton dissect what made the chocolate brand’s festive campaign such a winter winner.

Anatomy of an Ad podcast

Anatomy of an Ad podcast

It might be March but it's never too early (or late) to talk about Christmas ads, right? Last year, Cadbury introduced its ‘Secret Santa Postal Service’. The activation will showed-up in digital and static posters across the country for six weeks and featured a lovable, purple-wearing, postie called Jeff. During the campaign run, customers were able to send a bar of chocolate to friends or loved ones in secret, and for free.

According to data analysts Kantar, the spot was a win among audiences. “It came out as our top-performing Christmas ad and there were lots of reasons that sat behind that. The idea of generosity really resonated with people, we pay attention to things that make us feel something.

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“It was distinctive. The brain pays attention to things that make us feel something but we also pay attention to things that are really different.”

The marketer goes on to suggest that during the festive months, it can be really easy to let “Christmas take over” which sometimes means the brand gets forgotten. But with Cadbury’s campaign, generosity was at the heart of it which made it stand out. Especially when people are feeling the pinch financially.

Jeff the postie is at the heart of this campaign. “We thought about him a lot, that’s where the earned potential came through in this campaign,” says Paxton. “We don’t have the same budget as our competitive set. At its worse we’re looking at a 5:1 ratio of our media spend versus some of the biggest spenders at Christmas, so we knew we had to punch above our weight.

“The only way you can do that is to leverage all of your assets and have them all weaved with this clear, purple, distinctive thread to make it feel bigger than it actually is. So the casting of Jeff was really important.”

To hear the full interview, check out the Anatomy of an Ad podcast on Spotify. You can also listen to last week’s episode with Hijinks.

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