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John Cadbury opened his first shop in 1824 on Bull Street in Birmingham, England; he was 22 years old. Originally selling tea and coffee, Mr. Cadbury later added cocoa and drinking chocolate to his offerings. Cadbury's first ad appeared in the Birmingham Gazette in March 1824 and read: "John Cadbury is desirous of introducing to particular notice 'Cocoa Nibs,' prepared by himself, an article affording a most nutritious beverage for breakfast."

In 1831, Mr. Cadbury extended his operation by establishing a factory, producing drinking chocolate and cocoa on a large scale. Some of Cadbury's earliest brands were Churchman's chocolate, Spanish chocolate, Fine Brown chocolate, Iceland Moss, Pearl and Homeopathic cocoas.

A family business

When Mr. Cadbury's brother Benjamin joined the business, they adopted the name Cadbury Brothers of Birmingham. At the same time, John's nephew, Richard Cadbury Barrow, took over the retail side of the business, which became Barrow Stores.

The mid-1850s saw a reduction in taxes on cocoa beans. As a result, cocoa and chocolate products fell within the budgets of a wider section of the population, and Cadbury's business continued to grow.

John Cadbury's sons, Richard and George, took over the company when their father retired in 1861. Using a cocoa bean processing technique they learned on a visit to Holland, the brothers began marketing a new cocoa essence with the tagline "Absolutely pure—therefore best." With the passage of the Adulteration of Foods Acts in England in 1872 and 1875, Cadbury received a measure of publicity for its new, purer cocoa, which soon became highly sought after.

In the late 1890s, Cadbury introduced "fancy chocolates," an assortment of fine chocolates sold in decorated boxes with small pictures children could cut out and glue into scrapbooks.

Several of Cadbury's best-selling—and most enduring—products were introduced in the early 1900s. Dairy Milk, launched in 1905, became Cadbury's best-selling line by 1913. Ads for Cadbury's Dairy Milk in 1928 carried an image of milk pouring from a pitcher into a chocolate bar; the tagline read, "A glass and a half of full cream milk in every half-pound produced." Bournville, introduced in 1908 and named after the town where Cadbury chocolates were then produced, was advertised as having a "strong, dark taste."

Cadbury's Milk Tray, introduced in 1915, got its name from the way the original chocolate assortments were delivered to shops—in trays of fine chocolates that were sold loose to customers. By the mid-1930s, the Milk Tray assortment outsold all competitors and continued to hold its place as a brand leader into the 21st century.

Milk Tray's enduring ad icon, created by Leo Burnett Co., has been "The Man in Black." The James Bond-like character performs daredevil feats in order to deliver a box of Milk Tray to a mystery woman.

A merger with J.S. Fry & Sons of Bristol in 1919 added several successful brands to Cadbury's marketing arsenal. Many of the Fry brands, such as Fry's Chocolate Cream (launched in 1853) and Fry's Turkish Delight, were still popular in the U.K. at the beginning of the 21st century.

During World War II, chocolate products were seen as essential foods for both civilians and the armed forces, and governments began to oversee production of chocolates and cocoas. However, since sugar and other raw materials were in short supply, rationing of chocolate continued until 1949.

Flake, a crumbly milk chocolate that had been introduced in 1911, introduced "The Flake Girl" as its spokescharacter in the late 1950s. She appeared in TV spots set in exotic locations around the world to promote the brand as a way to let consumers escape from it all. (In September 2000, Cadbury introduced Snowflake, a white chocolate flake covered in milk chocolate. The launch was backed by a $4.2 million campaign handled by TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, London.)

Schweppes merger

In 1962, Cadbury's overall corporate structure was reorganized, and the company went public. Seven years later, Cadbury merged with Schweppes, a soft-drink marketer. The combined operation became a major force in the confectionery and beverages market internationally.

In 1976, Cadbury launched Double Decker, using England's famous double-decker buses as an integral part of the candy bar's advertising. The launch featured British comedian Willy Rushton and the tagline, "Crunchy in a chewy sort of way." Other new products included the Wispa chocolate bar, launched in 1983 with a $10.5 million marketing campaign and commercials featuring personalities in pairs—Dennis Waterman and Rula Lenska; Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones; Victoria Wood and Julie Walters; and Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis. Another new product, the Boost chocolate bar, was introduced in 1985 with the tagline, "Cadbury Boost—it's slightly rippled with a flat underside." Cadbury's Miniature Heroes, introduced in September 1999 via TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, used the tagline, "The people magnet."

Cadbury also has been among British independent TV's biggest sponsors. In 1996, it began sponsoring Granada Television's popular serial "Coronation Street" in a three-year contract for $16 million a year.

The company tried on occasion to market in the U.S. on a modest level. In 1984, Cadbury backed its Roast Almond Cadbury with $16 million push via Young & Rubicam. The tagline was, "If you took away our Cadbury's smooth, creamy, dairy milk taste, you'd think we were nuts." In 1988, Cadbury licensed its brands in the U.S. to Hershey Foods Co.

By 2001, Cadbury's No.1 product was its famous Creme Eggs, first introduced in 1967. Late in 2002, Cadbury moved its $50 million chocolates account to Publicis. TBWA Worldwide, London, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, had handled the account, but resigned it to take on assignments from Mars Inc.

Cadbury in December of 2002 agreed to buy Pfizer Inc.'s confectionary division, Adams, for $4.2 billion. The deal included brands Trident and Dentyne, making the new Cadbury Adams division No. 2 in chewing gum behind Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Additional brands Halls, Clorets and Certs helped Cadbury grow its portfolio in the growing functional confectionary sector.

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