Each of the ads, directed by Lena Beug, is narrated by Evans and ends as he describes each situation to accompany the new “Godiva Is Chocolate,” slogan. “Godiva is buy it as a gift, or keep it for yourself chocolate,” Evans relates in the “Gold” ad. “Godiva is chocolate.”
Afridi lauded TracyLocke’s approach to storytelling in the ads for placing consumers—not the brand—as determinants of the situations for which Godiva is appropriate. “It’s a two-way communication,” she explained. “We are telling them Godiva is chocolate, and they are telling us for which moment, or which occasion, it’s the chocolate for them; they will fill in the line that is suitable. That’s how we make our brand and our products closer to consumers.”
The choice of Evans as Godiva’s brand voice came through brainstorming between the company and the agency, Afridi added. The star of Marvel’s Captain America and Avengers films brings authority and charisma to the brand—while representing an atypical male voice in the luxury-chocolate ad field. “We had different options, but when we saw Chris for just a few seconds, I said ‘That’s it. Chris it is,’” Afridi recalled. “His approachability and his confidence very well complements our brand’s personality. He’s a hero—and Godiva is a hero of the celebration, of the happy moments in people’s lives.”
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Godiva was founded in Brussels in 1926 by chocolatier Joseph Draps and has been recognized for premium positioning throughout its history. The brand was acquired by Campbell Soup Co. in 1967 and sold for $850 million in 2007 to Yildiz Holding, a Turkish company and parent of that country’s largest food group.
Prior to taking over as CEO of Godiva, Afridi held numerous positions within Yildiz’s portfolio companies and led the acquisition of the brand from Campbell. Her prescription to make Godiva a more youthful and accessible brand through mainstream channels represented something of a contrast from her predecessor, Annie Young-Scrivner, a former Starbucks executive who envisioned the brand growing appeal behind a series of cafes—as many as 2,000 by 2025, according to reports. Young-Scrivner today is CEO of Wella, the hair products company.
Afridi said expanding Godiva's reach should not indicate that is also abandoning its high-end heritage. Its premium gifting platform remains a foundation of the brand—although translating that to a wider audience presented some challenges, she confessed. For one, Godiva’s appeal was greatest among customers ages 40 or older, and tended to concentrate around special occasions like Christmas. For another, Godiva’s reputation was almost too upscale for the mainstream.
Among young people, Godiva “was perceived as something that is so valuable, so precious, that maybe I shouldn’t eat it,” Afridi said.
“That’s why we’re now saying, ‘It’s chocolate. You deserve to eat it.’ We’re saying that it’s for you; that it’s approachable, it’s vibrant, it’s joyful. It’s for you to be happy,” she added.
So while Godiva’s “Gold Box” luxury gifts maintain price points of $200 and up, smaller retail packages inspired by what’s inside those boxes now sell for as little as $2, bringing the luxury brand into more direct competition with other premium chocolate brands at retail like the Swiss chocolatier Lindt, which also owns the Ghirardelli brand; Cadbury (controlled in the U.S. by Hershey Co.); and emerging players like Mast Brothers and Tony’s Chocolonley.
Gifting has also expanded to mainstream retail channels where packages like Chocolate Domes bags can help consumers recognize informal gift occasions like a birthday or a thank-you. “You don’t have to wait for Christmas to gift Godiva anymore,” Afridi said.
“The premium quality, the Belgian heritage and innovation is our core, and has been a part of Godiva for almost 100 years while other confectioners in this space have come and gone,” Afridi said. “It’s what makes Godiva different than any chocolate brand in the world. That is protected by our chocolate team, by our quality team, and by our marketing team. What we are doing with our new omnichannel strategy and bringing Godiva to every day is democratizing that luxury.”