How Mars overtook its rivals with a festive chocolate push

The confectioner’s play to win the chocolate war by axing Bounty helped Celebrations pull ahead of its key competitors over the Christmas season. 

Mars Wrigley MW Awards 2023
Source: Mars Wrigley

Christmas is crunch time for confectionery companies, with December accounting for 60% of category sales. Keen to top the shopping list, Mars Wrigley wanted its Celebrations chocolates to be synonymous with the festive season.

However, research and social listening revealed Bounty to be the most divisive chocolate in the Celebrations tub. While 39% of Brits wanted Bounty permanently removed from the selection, the coconut chocolate also had die-hard fans.

Looking for an idea to ignite both sides of the debate, Mars Wrigley announced Bounties were being removed from Celebrations tubs due to “public demand”. If the trial went well the brand warned Bounty could be cut permanently.

Collaborating with agency Taylor Herring, Mars Wrigley sent limited edition ‘No Bounty’ tubs to key influencers and journalists, as well as broadcast, digital and print media. Next the brand released ‘#BringBackBounty’, an ad depicting the misunderstood choc wandering alone before being reunited with his Celebrations chums.

Bounty began trending on Twitter as soon as the story broke, staying in the top 10 for four consecutive days. The prospect of Bounty’s removal was debated on BBC Radio One and given a three-minute segment on ITV News, while a Good Morning Britain poll on the issue generated more responses than any other item.

The campaign spawned 6,502 pieces of coverage globally, 452 million Twitter impressions and social conversation spanning 30 countries, reaching an estimated 75 billion people worldwide.

Crucially, YouGov ranked Celebrations as more popular than key competitors in December 2022, helping Mars Wrigley win the 2023 Marketing Week Award for Consumer Goods.