It all started, as so much does these days, on social-networking sites. A few nostalgic types started a "Bring Back Wispa" campaign that rapidly gathered the sort of momentum that can be generated only via Web 2.0.
|Emma Hall is Advertising Age's London reporter, and although not a chocolate fan, she always enjoys a good 1980s revival.|
Old ads were dug up and replayed; chocolate fans uploaded footage of themselves talking about their love for the Wispa; and endless postings discussed the exact texture of the Wispa bar and the size of its bubbles.
Social networkers know they have the power to make a difference and that the brand owners are listening. These sites offer marketers so many ways to learn more about and communicate with their customers.
The crusade spread offline when two Wispa devotees wrapped themselves in a giant Wispa flag and stormed the stage during Iggy Pop's set at the Glastonbury Festival this summer.
One of many online petitions reads, "We, the undersigned, demand the return of the Wispa bar ... the intoxicating combination of bubbly textured and tasty Cadbury's milk chocolate. Clearly it was the most delicious and amusingly named of all confectionery."
You can't buy that sort of adulation, and Cadbury does not appear to have had any hand in this genuine surge of support for one of its products. But the chocolate manufacturer needed this boost after a long run of bad luck and bad publicity in the past year or so.
The company had to recall a million chocolate bars due to salmonella contamination at its factory, and the launch ads for Trident chewing gum, featuring the "Mastication for the Nation" line delivered by a West Indian dub-style poet, were banned when they were deemed racist. Then there was the Easter-egg recall due to incorrect labeling, plus flooding in one of its factories during our ghastly wet summer.
Cadbury launched Wispa in 1983 and withdrew it in 2003 because of declining sales and production problems. The company sensibly retains a degree of skepticism about all the hype, viewing the relaunch as a trial to see whether there's a genuine Wispa craving. The acid test will come next month, when an initial run of 23 million bars will go on sale, priced at more than two and half times what Wispa cost last time around.