Monday 18 December 2017

'What would you do with your brand if you weren't afraid to fail?'

'Fly fearless' is the mantra of the marketing team behind Cadbury Dairy Milk - and their success is evident in their double-digit growth

The fearless Colin O’Toole of Cadbury
The fearless Colin O’Toole of Cadbury

Colin O'Toole

On a searingly hot day in Cabinteely Park last summer I stood on a set watching Eamon Dunphy eating his 11th square of Cadbury Dairy Milk and thought, 'this is either going to be huge or I'm going to need another job'.

The Mondelez marketing mantra is 'Fly Fearless', and the agencies in our brand team are drilled to push us hard towards brave choices in search of strong growth.

Putting Eamon Dunphy and John Giles as the face of the biggest chocolate brand in Ireland certainly qualifies as fearless - but it absolutely paid off. It generated over 1.5m YouTube views and massive PR, with the TV ad being played in full on national radio stations and getting picked up in the UK by the BBC and the Guardian. The brand had double-digit growth over the period.

Cadbury Dairy Milk is the jewel in the chocolate crown of Mondelez with a truly iconic canon of advertising - so being fearless when finding new stories to tell and new ways to tell them is a challenge. How do you break the mindset of being too risk averse to push away from the safety and familiarity that has brought success?

Mondelez is using insight-driven 'safe marketing' as a launch pad and asking marketers to be more fearless. "What would you do with your brand if you weren't afraid to fail?"


Cadbury Dairy Milk is the number one impulse chocolate brand in the country, five times bigger than its closest rival, so the natural instinct would be to play safe and not risk losing market share.

A fearless brand, however, can redefine its target group, opening its vision to anything that shoppers can spend their money on instead of chocolate. This naturally reduces your relative market share, but now provides more opportunities and ample room to grow.

In this new space, you then need to speak louder and to more people than before to grow penetration of the category. Traditional media is essential for reach - but you need to understand all of the connection points that influence shopper's preferences and find a story at each one.

This means smaller budgets in some of these connections - but we purposefully build "test and learns" into every campaign, so we can learn how to grow.

It is an energetic exercise to adopt a bootstrap marketing mindset and ask: "if we had a tiny budget here and success was the only option, how would we disrupt behaviours and get noticed?"


Let's talk about the hairy gorilla in the room. That advert was the benchmark for fearless. What has a gorilla - or, for that matter, Dunphy and Giles - got to do with chocolate?

Absolutely nothing - until you make it relevant to your brand's dramatic core. Understand that and almost everything becomes a creative asset. Both campaigns provided a fleeting moment of joy in our consumers' day - but crucially a memorable one.

Focus your creative team on generating content that can connect across all demographics and as many media channels as you can support.

Translate any global concepts and make it relatable for your local audience.

Focus on every piece of content as though it was the centrepiece of the whole campaign and ensure each piece links back to the central concept - like #FreeTheJoy did for the Cadbury campaigns.


Why waste the largest part of your budget on targeting a small part of the market - like 18-24 year old females? Chocolate penetration is almost 100pc. So at some point everyone buys in this category... and when they do, we want them to think Cadbury.

As much as 50pc of your customer base only purchases your brand once or twice in a year. This is extremely infrequent and makes it easy for them to forget you.

Reaching as many of these light buyers as often as you can is a modern media fundamental - and to get maximum reach we need to understand how media is consumed (these days it is heavily digital) and match it with content.

Mondelez has a global vision of putting a minimum of 20pc of its annual budget online - so we work directly to create partnerships with Google, MSN, Facebook, Twitter and the rest, in order to find the most innovatively appropriate way to engage and create content that benefits both the consumer and the brand.


As much as we should strive to, we are not creating art, we are creating sales.

We can provide a joy moment, but it rarely means anything more than a flicker of emotion unless we can resurface that emotion at the moment of consideration.

It doesn't have to be an all-singing, all-dancing Dunphy and Giles point of sale - but at least it has to be a very visible pack within easy reach.

Our sales team work incredibly hard to build relationships from shop floor to head office, because having them buy-in to the campaign early really makes a difference.

Metrics and learning

And that difference is measured in sales, penetration and brand equity.

Be very clear before you start what you can measure - make it something which will make a material difference to your decision making - and then disregard the rest.

It is a waste of your time and the agency's time tracking these metrics if you do nothing different afterwards.

Finally, after every campaign you should spend as much time on understanding the successes as you do on the failures - and then retrospectively re-plan that campaign, knowing what you know with the benefit of hindsight. It makes planning next time so much easier.

Fearless marketing isn't an exact science that produces foolproof hit after hit - but it is a deliberate and evolving framework that allows Mondelez marketers to add more to our iconic canon.

Colin O'Toole is a senior brand manager for chocolate at Mondelez International

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