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10May2019

Cadbury and the evolution of its advertising

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Goes without saying - everyone’s got their favourite Cadbury (not ‘Cadbury’s’) chocolate bar and everyone’s got their favourite Cadbury advert.

We all know Cadbury, so I won’t bore you with their background and all that. They’ve been around for a few years (about 195 years to be precise) and, of course, have a couple of advertising campaigns to boot.

So, from a fellow purple company to another, let’s have a look at the evolution of Cadbury’s advertising.

 

 

The beginnings to 1930s

In the beginning in the 1880s to 1890s, Cadbury started their advertising journey with the promise that their chocolate will improve their consumers’ strength - not exactly true, but not half as bad as various cigarette companies promoting better health and even being ‘endorsed’ by doctors.

 

Children were the next (advertising) target. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Cadbury  chocolate was advertised as the perfect accompaniment to a perfect day, and children were a heavy focus in a vast majority of their posters - basically, parents had to buy their chocolate if they care about their kids, since it was ‘healthy’ and kept them happy. Similar tactic to most confectionery companies today.

 

Their famous ‘glass and a half’ campaign was first launched in 1928 - milk was the nutritious drink of choice and so Cadbury jumped on the bandwagon. Still clinging onto the notion that their chocolate was healthy (if only), Cadbury plastered everywhere that they had a glass and a half of milk in every Dairy Milk bar.

 

And it all avalanched from there.

 

1950s to 1960s

With their first TV ad launched in 1955, the 1950s and 1960s gave us two of the most iconic characters Cadbury came up with (which were, and maybe still are, definitely adhering to the stereotypes).

 

Cadbury got a bit scandalous in the 1950s. The introduction of ‘Flake Girls’ in 1959 caused a bit of a stir - the guilt-free luxury of a Flake was presented rather suggestively throughout the years with women eating them in intimate moments. The campaign was eventually retired in the early 2000s (with a brief revival in 2010), simply due to it becoming outdated in the modern era.

 

And at the other end of the spectrum. With the rise of James Bond in 1963, Cadbury came up with their own incarnation - the ‘Milk Tray Man’. Who else would be able to go to the extreme lengths in order to deliver a Milk Tray? Much like the Flake Girls, the Milk Tray Men campaign ended, only to be brought back again due to public popularity, with an official (and successful) hunt for the new Milk Tray Man in 2016.

 

1970s to 1980s

The 1970s saw the rise of the slogans. ‘Everyone is a fruit and nutcase,’ ‘finger of Fudge is just enough,’ and, of course, ‘nuts, whole hazelnuts, Cadbury takes ‘em and they cover them with chocolate.’ It obviously worked pretty well as the slogans led to an increase in the sale of their Fruit and Nut and Whole Nut chocolate bars by 73% in the early 1970s, and they’re still stuck in our heads today.

 

Tell me though, have you heard the latest Wispa? In 1983, Cadbury used the power of celebrity to promote their new Wispa bar, using various examples of well-known and popular celebrities of the time (and today). Getting celebrities involved is a pretty well-used tactic today, and has a large pay-off - in Cadbury’s case, raising 95-97% brand awareness and creating a lasting impact on the public.

 

2000s to now

The 2000s started out a bit rocky for Cadbury. Large factory closures, Trading Standards disputes, nut allergy blunders, and that American takeover, Cadbury needed something big to get back on track. And that came in the form of a gorilla.

 

One of the most standout adverts in recent time without question is Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’. Named as the best adverts of the 2000s (it got my vote), it started the viral marketing trend, and was created for entertainment purposes rather than the more traditional ‘sell, sell, sell’ tactic. You could say that it saved Cadbury - it even put ‘In The Air Tonight’ back in the charts. And it was only 90 seconds long.

 

And finally, the 2010s. The latest ad from them goes back to their roots - ‘Mum’s Birthday’ perfectly exemplifies a good TV advert, leaving you feeling all warm inside. It‘s very simple in its messaging, and overall, a nice little homage to their philanthropic founder. ‘Mum’s Birthday’ features the return of their old slogan (with a slight amendment), detaching itself from its previous ‘Free the Joy’ campaign to something a little more meaningful and putting a limelight onto genuine acts of kindness.

 

You may have noticed, but in the last couple of years, Cadbury no longer have their name plastered all over their adverts. The only real branding is the slogan and the iconic purple. Just goes to show the power of their brand - to get people to recognise it’s your company through a couple of words and a colour (without even your logo on it) means that you’ve cracked it. And rightly so in Cadbury’s case.

 

So, from false claims to little uplifting moments, Cadbury explored every avenue for their advertising over the years. And it paid off - look at them now. Of course, it's not entirely down to their advertising, but you must admit, it played a big part. It'll be exciting to see what Cadbury do next. Until then, remember - there's a glass and a half in everyone. 

 

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