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Cadbury makes measured return to 'joy' platform

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 23, 2004
The latest television commercial for chocolate brand Cadbury Dairy Milk ventures close to the brand's 'joy of chocolate' thought for the first time since mid-2003


Nothing works like plain, old-fashioned charm. Especially when it comes in packages of a six-foot-something Amitabh Bachchan and a two-foot-something kid, who share a great bit of chemistry in front of the camera. Small wonder, the latest television commercial - featuring Bachchan and the afore-mentioned kid - for Cadbury India's flagship chocolate brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM), is fittingly titled 'charm'.

For charming the film undoubtedly is. In the way it endears itself to the viewer by means of the delightful interplay between a chocolate eating 'nanaji' (Bachchan) and his cautious granddaughter (debutant model, Aalekhya). And despite obliquely touching upon the controversy that had visited the company, the commercial performs the task of reassuring consumers with as little fuss as possible. Without being self-conscious about it, it must be added. But, ultimately, it's the charm factor that propels this piece of communication.

Charm, very clearly, is what Cadbury India is carefully reworking into CDM communication. That, and what the company terms 'the joy of consuming chocolate'. Both of which were conspicuously (and understandably) missing in the first Bachchan-endorsed CDM ad ('sincerity') that the company aired, post-controversy. Indeed, this is the first time that CDM advertising has ventured anywhere near the 'joy' platform since the 'Khush hoon khaamakhaa…' theme campaign from mid-2003.

That, of course, is a function of the long and hard road that Cadbury has had to traverse these past five-six months, following the outbreak of the controversy. Hit by an avalanche of bad press, the company had put all advertising initiatives on the backburner and focused its energies on regaining consumer confidence. "Because of the magnitude of the incident, we realized that the consumer had to see some tangible action, an evidence of what we were doing to ensure the quality of our chocolates," says Sanjay Purohit, general manager - marketing, Cadbury India. "So, for three-four months, we worked on engineering the packaging, across our moulded chocolate range."

The company claims that its repackaging exercise, which used a combination of packaging technologies, was unprecedented in the category, and that it implemented the new packaging "within 60 days of the incident" - while a standard implementation of such scale would have taken "eight to nine months". Cadbury India also claims that some of the packaging initiatives were 'fast forwarded' from a developmental stage to cater to the exigency created by the controversy. "We erred on the side of huge caution as we wanted to take one extra step to reassure consumers," says Purohit.

With the redesigned packaging in place, the company decided to communicate the measures it had taken to safeguard quality standards. And to add credibility to its pitch, Cadbury took recourse in Bachchan's deep baritone. "The communication had to be effective, and had to create an immediate impact on the consumer," explains Purohit. "We needed a spokesperson for the company and its brands, not just an endorser. So Mr Bachchan's role in our communication was slightly different from that of the usual celebrity endorser." Purohit adds that the company had an extended conversation with Bachchan before he finally consented to speak on Cadbury's behalf. "His first role was to communicate the improved packaging. We wanted him to be convinced about the changes we had made, so we took him to our factory and demonstrated our various quality control measures. He finally agreed to do it."

The script for the first piece of communication (created by O&M) almost wrote itself out during the process of getting Bachchan to vouch for Cadbury. The result was the 'sincerity' commercial, which had Bachchan first voicing his own concerns, and then assuring consumers that his doubts had been satisfactorily laid to rest, his faith in Cadbury reinstated. The 60-second ad ran in its pristine state, with no cuts, for roughly four weeks, and Cadbury claims the commercial has done wonders to consumer confidence. "We have been tracking consumer confidence across nine cities since October 2003, and the 'sincerity' ad has been able to create a big swing in our favour," avers Purohit. He states that while consumer confidence was at its lowest in November 2003, there had been a constant but marginal improvement in the lead-up to the launch of the 'sincerity' commercial. "Since we ran that ad, there has been a very positive swing, and both our sales and survey figures point to the fact that we will be back to the healthy, pre-incident stage very soon. The best part is the consumer is crediting us for not ignoring the controversy."

With consumer confidence on the rebound, it is but natural for Cadbury to make a cautious attempt to rekindle the feel and flavour of CDM advertising. With Bachchan's looming presence, for good measure. Cadbury, however, reveals that it always had a post-controversy, two-ad plan. "The 'sincerity' ad was to be aired only for a limited period of time," Purohit explains. "We wanted to address specific issues pertaining to our quality standards, which is why we made that ad, but we had plans of replacing it with a communication that had Mr Bachchan, which was closer to the thought of 'the joy of chocolate'. One that told the consumer that the past is over, that your Cadbury has undergone substantial changes, so let us all move on in life."

Interestingly, despite being truer to the 'joy of chocolate' emotion, the 'charm' ad does not attempt to overlook the controversy totally. Yet, it attempts to put the past firmly behind it through the interaction between Bachchan and kid, which is more or less encapsulated in a line in the ad, 'Don't worry. Be happy.' The 'charm' ad is, in fact, a natural progression to the 'sincerity' commercial. "The first ad showed Mr Bachchan's hesitation and doubt, and then his positive reaction to Cadbury's efforts at maintaining high quality standards," says Purohit. "The 'charm' ad only takes his confidence in Cadbury forward by showing his trust in the brand in a 'Dairy Milk' sort of way." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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