2008 Creative Marketers: Cadbury

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Last summer, Cadbury U.K.'s marketing director Phil Rumbol (pictured) and his team were in a bind. With just a week left to meet the target date, its agency Publicis London hadn't been able to crack Cadbury's brief to revitalize the Dairy Milk brand and communicate its core: each chocolate bar, containing a glass and a half of milk, should make you feel good—why shouldn't the advertising be just as enjoyable to consume? So Rumbol turned to Cadbury's other shop Fallon, London, asking them to pitch ideas as well.

Soon enough, Cadbury was at Fallon, hearing the first of its three ideas. Creative director Juan Cabral read the script, while Phil Collins played in the background. "The moment we heard it we just knew it was something special," says the 41-year-old Rumbol, who huddled with his brand manager outside the conference room afterwards, giddy about what would go on to become the now famous Gorilla spot. "We were just like two school kids. We couldn't rationalize why it just felt so right." Now, it was just a matter of getting everyone inside Cadbury on board, which "was probably the hardest thing in my career because of the energy, the effort and persistence that it required," says Rumbol, who's been with the chocolate maker going on three years, after working at Inbev as U.K. marketing director. "It was actually quite a frightening thing for people in the organization to be confronted with. All they see is the potential flop of making an ad that is 90 seconds long and doesn't feature chocolate. On the flagship brand, in your home market, that's the sort of thing that potentially has ramifications that are beyond the profit, getting into what the city and the street think of the company."

But he pushed, showing data to stakeholders explaining the emotional link to brands created by ads like "Gorilla," testing the consumer interest and urging Cadbury colleagues to watch the spot at home. "They came back and said, 'That was amazing. My wife, husband, kids, whatever, loved it,'" Rumbol says. "It put a smile on their face. There is no more logic than that." The results are tangible. In addition to industry awards, including a Cannes Grand Prix, sales were up 9% during the on-air period. According to Rumbol, "we've seen a marked increase in brand commitment amongst 18-25 year-olds, which was one of the key objectives that we had—to recruit the next generation of parents." But the boldness isn't just benefiting Cadbury, which has brought ape mascots into factories and dubbed 2007 the Year of the Gorilla; it's a win for emotionally engaging advertising everywhere, pushing against rational sales speak. Rumbol & Co. celebrated the first anniversary of "Gorilla" by taking up an entire ad pod during the finale of Big Brother, and airing a remixed version along with its less-celebrated follow-up, "Trucks." The Dairy Milk brand also endures as an "entertainment entity," Glass and a Half Productions, which lives on a website hosting the spots.

Mirth is spreading to the brand's other properties too. Fallon's first campaign for new sweets brand The Natural Confectionary Company contrasts plain talk about the brand with nonsense from gummy bears and snakes, courtesy of left-field director Tom Kuntz. "The more examples there are of things that have worked," Rumbol says, "the easier it will be for people to reference them and help use those as a case to change." And perhaps that case will only get stronger—Cadbury last month moved its £100 million global ad account from Publicis to Saatchi & Saatchi and Fallon's SSF Group.

Read about Orange, another of our 2008 Creative Marketers.
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