Hot chocolate

Perspectives created a Valentine’s Day campaign to push Cadbury’s Milk Tray. It encouraged hidden romantics to proclaim their passion without the usual embarrassment.

What did you do for your loved one on Valentine’s day? Chances are it involved flowers, dinner, and almost definitely chocolate. It is this vice-like link between Valentine’s Day and chocolate that Cadbury exploited earlier this year in a promotion designed to make people behave more romantically towards their partners, using the Cadbury’s Milk Tray brand.

The promotion, called “Crazy ways to say I love you”, was created by promotions agency Perspectives and was devised to take the stress and self consciousness out of Valentine’s Day.

Perspectives business development director Guy Ritchie says: “We wanted to remove the weight of romantic expectation from men’s shoulders and make Valentine’s Day fun. Milk Tray isn’t an expensive present but can be used to show someone that you care.”

Perspectives picked up the Milk Tray business from Triangle Communications at the start of this year. It used this promotion to specifically move away from the man in black, who has been linked with Milk Tray for so long.

The campaign was aimed primarily at young men who felt embarrassed about making any kind of romantic gesture. The campaign was designed to show Milk Tray could represent a light-hearted present without any serious intentions.

The integrated push was split into three parts, involving radio, posters, and calling cards promoting specially designed heart-shaped boxes.

The radio campaign was run in conjunction with Virgin Radio, targeting 18- to 25-year-old males. It encouraged listeners to call the radio station, the week before Valentine’s Day on Harriet Scott’s drive time slot, with unusual ideas for proclaiming their love.

The five-day campaign, from February 8 – 12, involved choosing one winner per day. The prize was a Caribbean holiday for two – clearly designed for those with serious intentions.

Winners were chosen according to Virgin’s ability to make the propositions come true. Suggestions were judged by a panel made up of Virgin Radio staff whose criteria also included what would make the most interesting radio. This meant that the thousands of calls suggesting candlelit meals didn’t see the light of day.

The campaign was given a boost by being endorsed by other DJs at the station. Chris Evans covered it on his breakfast show, which provided acres of unscheduled airtime. It was also given coverage on London TV news and many of the stunts received regional press coverage.

According to Ritchie, the radio campaign received 46 million impacts. Virgin Radio says this has been the station’s most successful promotion to date. It generated 60 per cent more calls than Virgin’s next most successful promotion, the KP Crackpots “Wacky ways of spending &£1,000”.

The initiated ignited the imagination of Britain’s hidden romantics. One participant proposed to his girlfriend while swimming with sharks, and one female glued herself to a billboard with the words “stuck on you” in a speech balloon.

The second part of the campaign used calling cards designed as Valentine’s Day reminders. Some 82 young women formed small teams and distributed the cards to men in railway stations, town centres and outside Premier League football matches for the two days before Valentine’s Day. According to Cadbury, the calling cards ran out of stock in locations where they were distributed by shops which were selling Milk Tray.

Milk Tray UK brand manager Pablo Heyman says: “Figures for spring show a 15 per cent rise in the sales of Milk Tray compared with this time last year.”

However, Heyman did wonder whether the promotion could have made more use of the “man in black” icon. But on reflection he concedes that, to appeal to a younger market, Perspectives was right to develop a new campaign, free of its old brand associations.

Heyman says that the Milk Tray brand is part of a group of products which lend themselves to seasonal campaigning, such as Roses for Mother’s Day, Creme Eggs for Easter and selection boxes for Christmas.

He adds: “The campaign worked extremely well. There could have been a stronger link between the calling cards and the radio promotion, but overall I am happy with what Perspectives has achieved.”

Perspectives is planning a similar campaign for Valentine’s Day next year.

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