Cadbury ditches joy positioning after six years to go ‘back to brand roots’

The chocolate brand’s new global campaign will focus on “genuine acts of kindness and generosity” as it looks to emulate the philanthropy of its founder John Cadbury.

Cadbury is getting rid of its ‘Free the Joy’ campaign and will instead focus its marketing on the founding principles of the brand and its founder, philanthropist John Cadbury, by showing moments of “kindness and generosity”.

The change will be implemented across the Cadbury portfolio, starting with the Cadbury Dairy Milk brand. A new TV campaign, first airing tomorrow (13 January) and created by VCCP, tells the story of a young girl who wants to buy her mum a bar of Dairy Milk for her birthday but doesn’t have any money to pay, only a collection of knick-knacks.

Surprisingly, the shopkeeper accepts these trinkets, including a button and fake diamond ring. But he doesn’t take her favourite, a miniature unicorn, and the young girl leaves the shop with her mum’s favourite chocolate bar and a smile on her face.

Cadbury had already started to move away from its joy positioning with last year’s Dairy Milk campaign, which ran with the strapline ‘Taste like this feels’. The brand is now taking this one step further by dropping moments of joy in favour of moments of kindness, which Cadbury brand equity lead Benazir Barlet-Batada says will help the brand “reconnect” with the nation while also linking back to its founder’s philanthropic efforts in the 1800s.

“Our founder John Cadbury was a philanthropist, and there are so many examples of acts of kindness that he did. The best example is the creation of Bournville, where he provided homes for factory workers, there was a doctor’s surgery and cricket and football pitches. That was a real example of his generosity, and we want our new global brand platform to shine a light on our roots, but also shine a light on acts of kindness existing today,” she says, speaking to Marketing Week.

Staying top of mind as sales fall

Barlet-Batada denies that the previous positioning around joy was outdated or lacking effectiveness, pointing to the high level of brand penetration in the UK (roughly 90%). Instead, she says, the company was simply looking “for new ways to innovate and grow the brand”.

“We wanted to move to a more down-to-earth positioning to celebrate our brand values, which have always existed,” she adds.

But IRI data shows that the 12 biggest UK chocolate brands have lost £78m in value sales in the past year as consumers move away from sugary treats. Cadbury Dairy Milk suffered a 4.2% slump in value, equating to £19.9m. Nielsen data supplied by Cadbury, however, shows that total Cadbury sales to the four weeks ending 2 December 2017 increased by 1.9% year on year.

We want our new global brand platform to shine a light on our roots, but also shine a light on acts of kindness existing today.

Benazir Barlet-Batada

And given the joy positioning was meant to be a 10-year brand platform when it launched in 2012, it seems it hasn’t quite resonated with consumers. YouGov’s BrandIndex data shows that Cadbury’s index ranking (a measure of a range of metrics including quality, impression and reputation) has fallen from 43.8 in February 2012 to 25.6 this month – marking a statistically significant decrease, although it remains one of the top brands in the category.

The £12m campaign will be underpinned by digital, social, PR, experiential and sampling activations, as well as a second TV advert later in the year.

Out-of-home activity will include the well-known Cadbury Dairy Milk glass and a half of milk icon with other positive symbols, such as a heart, smiley face and thumbs up. There’s no Cadbury branding, with the poster simply featuring the new Cadbury Dairy Milk tagline ‘There’s a glass and a half in every one’.

The brand is also opening a pop-up shop in London between 25 and 28 January, where consumers can get a chocolate bar in exchange for their trinkets.