For some time now, there has been a growing body of opinion, at least among advertising professionals, that Cadbury Dairy Milk's (CDM) advertising isn't going anywhere. That the 'khaane ka bahaana' thought - worthy and groundbreaking though it was - has served its purpose, and is being pointlessly stretched… to the extent of becoming quite tedious. That it's time to retire the idea.
The opinion is not groundless. Since 1998, when the first 'bahaana' ad featuring Cyrus Broacha in the marketplace went on air, CDM commercials have got somewhat formatted in look, feel and content. Cyrus. Purple-and-gold colour-coding. Feel good imagery. And people trotting out all kinds of 'excuses' for indulging in chocolates. The last one, especially, was felt to be taking away from the very 'goodwill' it had successfully generated for the brand. With every ad, excuses proliferated. But that didn't necessarily amount to much in terms of increased 'takeout' for the consumer.
Perhaps why the latest commercial for CDM - the fourth in the 'khaane ka bahaana' series - might just be dismissed as more of the same thing. After all, at first glance, the ad appears to be another exercise at discovering 'bahaanas'.
It isn't, of course…
The ad starts with Cyrus, in true MTV style, walking into a college and asking students why they eat Cadbury Dairy Milk. The students immediately reel off their excuses: 'Dil chahta hai…'; 'Kabhi khushi kabhi gham mein khaate…'; 'Kuch kuch hota hai, jab bhi khaate…'; 'Hum to khaate hain aur khilaate hain, dil ke vaaste…'; 'Iske khaate hi dil ho jaate hain ek raaste…' (Yes, the references to Hindi movies cannot be missed - even the tune the students sing their excuses to is Dil Chahta Hai's theme score - but more of that later.)
The students abruptly break into the CDM theme: 'Khaane walon ko khaane ka bahaana…' However, at the last moment, one student snatches the mike from Cyrus' hand and asks. '…kyon chaahiye?'
Kyon chaahiye. A small but significant departure from what was being said for the past four years. A departure dictated by a market leader's desire to say something new…
Which is a very Cadbury thing to do. After all, back in 1994, when the chocolate category in India was stagnating and market expansion was the only way to grow, Cadbury India flagged off the Real Taste of Life (RTOL) campaign ('Kya swaad hai zindagi mein'). What Shimona (the girl who danced her way into the cricket field - and into people's hearts) and the other RTOL ads managed doing was getting young adults to shed their inhibitions about eating chocolates - among other things - thus opening a new market for chocolates. The campaign also helped CDM achieve 'gold standard' status in the category.
Then again, in 1998, when Cadbury India realized that many Indian adults - especially those from the lower SECs - still sought a rational justification for eating chocolates, it launched the 'khaane ka bahaana' campaign, with Cyrus in a 'sutradhaar' sort of role. "While the RTOL campaign was received very positively across SECs, a change in consumption patterns was most prominent in the higher SECs," says Siddharth Roy, group account manager, O&M. "The more mass-based consumer still needed a tangible reason-why, especially from a socio-cultural context. That's why Cyrus as the chanawaala in the street… getting real people to say why they ate CDM. And the 'bahaana' campaign retained the core of RTOL."
Incidentally, there is a strong reason for stretching the 'bahaana' campaign over four years, says Roy. "We had to make CDM acceptable in the socio-cultural context, so we moved Cyrus from the open into the indoors with the 'wedding' commercial," he says. "A wedding offers a good gathering of people, it is socio-culturally relevant and it's an occasion for people to eat sweets. The fit was perfect, though the attempt was never to compete with sweets. Mass justification was the idea." The third 'bahaana' commercial also served a purpose. "We didn't want people to think that CDM was occasion-specific. We wanted to say that it was for all occasions, so there was everyone from dada-dadi to grandchildren generally eating CDM within the house."
Roy, however, does admit that the 'bahaanas' were wearing themselves out. "See, CDM needed to increase both depth and frequency of consumption, so we stuck with this route. And I must say this continued to get us new consumers. But yes, the format was not giving the brand a chance to explore. And yes, the formatting was having a marginal negative impact, especially among the youth, who still form some 70 to 80 per cent of CDM's audience."
Apparently, over the past one year, CDM's appeal seems to have eroded a bit among this key constituency. "Today, CDM is competing with colas, bhujiyas and burgers," explains Roy. "And there is a feeling that perhaps these products are speaking a lingo that is closer to the youth, and that CDM might not be connecting with the youth as well."
That explains the very cola-ad feel of the 'college' ad. That explains Cyrus' MTV-anchor like role. That explains the Hindi movie cues. That explains the shades of youthful irreverence. "The youth connect is a very tactical thing," says Roy. "If you ask the youth for a justification for something they do, you might get an answer, but one that is quite incomprehensible to an older mind. Irreverence is an intrinsic part of youth culture, and we have tried to capture that in a fun way. So when Cyrus puts his poser, they answer almost in riddles. And then they ask why does one need a reason to do something. 'Kyon chaahiye' is a human truth… you don't always need an excuse to do what your heart commands. It's like falling in love."
There is little doubt that Cadbury has realized it's time to move on. "There was a need to tell the adult it's okay to eat chocolates. Then there was a need to justify this consumption. Having done both, we now need to tell the consumer something new about the brand. Some new story that can capture the imagination."
Will that story be about not needing an excuse? "No," Roy informs. "This ad simply cues into the next strategy and campaign, for which we are currently conducting a massive research exercise. The 'kyon chaahiye' line is basically tactical, aimed at drawing the curtains on the 'bahaana' episode."
It is Cadbury telling the consumer you don't need any excuses. Not any more. Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!