Abhishek Chanda

So, when are you having your next chocolate?

Deciding when to have your next chocolate is the new debate that has Nestle and Cadbury in a tussle or is it so?

Move over the rhetorical concepts of a brother stealing his sister's chocolate, or for that matter, boy gifts a chocolate to a girl. The Indian sweet tooth needs more reason to give in to the dark temptation! New and fresh ideas are engaging the chocolate consumer like never before, including 'have you earned your chocolate' (Cadbury Bournville) and 'Aaj pehli tarikh hai' (pay day celebrations from Cadbury Dairy Milk).

Now, here's something even more advanced – spoofing in the chocolates category in India. The sub-continent has had ads that have unleashed witty and funny, and at other times drab, commercials to hit back at each other, be it colas, detergents, bikes, DTH or even airlines! So, can chocolates be far behind?

The ads in question

The new Cadbury Dairy Milk TV commercial went on-air on June 19. Set in a retro background, the ad has a background score adopted from the legendary Kishore Kumar's song of the same name, taken from the Raja Nene directed movie, Pehli Tarikh, released in 1954.

The TV commercial shows a man who has just received his salary on the first day of the month. What follows is his euphoria as he goes back home to his wife, takes her out in a taxi for a movie (even at the expense of buying tickets in black) and later rejoices with a Cadbury Dairy Milk. He leaves no stones unturned to enjoy life, just because it's pay day. The film has been cracked by a team led by Abhijit Avasthi of Ogilvy India.

The Nestle Munch TVC went on-air around mid August. The film starts with a young boy looking morosely at his bar of chocolate. Just then, his friend steps in to ask him what the matter is and why he isn't eating the bar. The boy dejectedly looks at the clock. A cuckoo comes out of the clock to say in a mechanical tone that it is the second day of the month. The boy is in a dilemma about whether it is the right time of the month to eat a Munch.

The friend slaps his forehead and says, "Arre Bhai, ye Munch hai, isse kisi bhi din kha sakte hain (My friend, this is Munch and it can be eaten on any day of the month)." Happy to hear this, the boy eats the Munch.

The film ends with a voiceover saying, 'Khao bina tareekh dekhe (Eat without looking at the date)'. This film has been cracked by a team led by Anuja Chauhan of JWT.

The rationale

According to industry estimates, the chocolates segment in India is valued at about Rs 2,000 crore. About 71 per cent of this market belongs to Cadbury and its various chocolate varieties, while Nestle has a share of about 25 per cent. The rest includes players such as Amul and others. Of their respective market shares, Cadbury Dairy Milk has a share of about 35 per cent, while Munch has 10 per cent.

So, when are you having your next chocolate?
So, when are you having your next chocolate?
So, when are you having your next chocolate?
Unlike the cola segment, where Pepsi and Coca-Cola are quite close to each other in terms of market shares, there is a clear demarcation between these chocolate brands, Cadbury Dairy Milk being the leader. Does it make sense to engage in spoofing?

Though inputs from Nestle were still awaited at the time of filing this story, the creative agency, JWT, strongly dismisses any direct reference to any brand in the communication. Rohit Ohri, managing partner, JWT briefly puts in the rationale of Munch being an affordable brand, available at Rs 2, 5 and 10. Ostensibly, it decided to have this communication to simply say that one can enjoy the taste of Munch on any given day.

When asked whether consumers would react to the spoof, he says that the consumer, instead of getting into a comparative analysis of the brands by virtue of these two ads, would rather enjoy Munch on the basis of its affordability.

While most brands which engage in spoofing ideally use a single TVC campaign, Munch is spreading its message through TV, radio and the Internet, among other media.

Given the fact that chocolate brands already function with limited funds, Nikhil Rao, vice-president, marketing, chocolates, Cadbury India, says that the brand is investing a lot of money in spoofing the Cadbury campaign. So, will Cadbury retaliate?

"No," says Rao, "we have rather moved on to bigger and better things." Cadbury is already in mode for the upcoming festive season and has released a TVC (that is a part of its broader Diwali campaign) that positions the brand as a 'happiness spreader', moving a step up from just 'gifting'.

Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy India, says, "The spoof has managed to give Cadbury more mileage, if not anything. A lot of players try to ride on the market leader by spoofing and there's nothing abnormal in that. However, what matters is whether it has been executed with finesse. In this case, the joke falls flat!" Interestingly, Avasthi himself has created quite a few spoofs.

Anybody planning for a chocolate yet?

afaqs! spoke to some people in the industry about Munch riding on Cadbury's ad. Most opine that Munch's attempt has fallen flat and there isn't really much to counter the Cadbury campaign, which has proved to be clutter breaking. Spoofing, if not executed well, runs the risk of reminding the consumer of the original brand. In this case, it seems to have done just that.

So, when are you having your next chocolate?
So, when are you having your next chocolate?
Kishore Chakraborti, vice-president, consumer insight, McCann Worldgroup, says, "The concept of payday itself is rooted in an existing middle class insight. This lends a support of insights and culture to the Cadbury ad." The Munch ad, in this case, looks like a poor mimic of something that stands strong already. Chakraborti adds that for any brand to do a spoof on another, it needs to take a stock of its positioning, too.

One example that came up in most discussions was that of Sprite. The beverage brand has positioned itself as an anti-hero and by virtue, it is a colourless and clear drink. Thus, it becomes fairly easy and believable for it to spoof cola brands, even to an extent of people laughing at the jokes and taking Sprite's humour in their stride.

Another memorable example of a spoof that most went back to was that of Pepsi's take on Coke during the 1996-97 Wills Cricket World Cup, when the brand hit back at Coke, the official sponsors of the tournament, by sporting the tagline, Pepsi: Nothing official about it. The ad was created by JWT (then HTA).

Interestingly, Nilesh Vaidya, creative director, Euro RSCG has a different take on the whole issue. He feels that Munch has wasted a big opportunity to counter Cadburys Dairy Milk by producing a sloppy spoof. "I think that the Pehli Tarikh campaign is an easy prey. The fact that it is focussed too sharply on the pay day insight makes it vulnerable. Munch seems to have done things in a hurry," he adds. However, Vaidya quite likes the execution of the Cadbury film.

Whether any of the other chocolate brands will follow suit with suggestions of yet another auspicious day to bite into a chocolate bar, or spin newer stories to counter each other waits to be seen. What is certain is that the category is surely heating up and more such discussions are guaranteed.