Cadbury's 'cool' factor good for sales

An emotional gorilla prepares to play drums in a Cadbury commercial

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Cadbury, the British chocolate maker, announced third quarter sales this morning. Up 7 percent. Good news for them. Not so good for Kraft. Cadbury turned down a $16 billion bid from the American food company last month, saying it's worth more than that. Cadbury's also suggesting it's just too cool for a big old conglomerate like Kraft. From London, Christopher Werth reports on the company's lighter side.


CHRISTOPHER WERTH: At Cadbury's headquarters just outside Birmingham, a group of visitors are
taking a tour of Cadbury World. It's a place where kids can get a
first hand look at how chocolate is made, and their parents can watch old Cadbury commercials they haven't seen for decades.

You might remember this one from the 1980's. It features a rabbit that clucks like a chicken, and lays Cadbury Cream Eggs.

Cadbury Bunny Ad: You're looking at a very unusual kind of egg from Cadbury.

This factory churns out about a million-and-a-half Cream Eggs a day, many of them headed for America's candy aisles.

Cadbury's been in the chocolate business for almost two centuries. But earlier this decade, the company's image had fallen behind the times.

BEN WALKER: I would imagine a couple of years ago my perception of Cadbury might have been slightly old and fusty, very traditional products.

Ben Walker is with the advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy. He says that image changed almost overnight in 2007, when Cadbury launched this ad of a gorilla quietly sitting behind a drum set listening to Phil Collins.

WALKER: I remember the first time I saw Gorilla. It was like it still makes me smile now, you know.

The gorilla closes its eyes, takes a deep breath, and then starts pounding on the drums.

For just a brief moment at the end, a candy bar appears on the screen. Walker says he did something he almost never does while watching a commercial. He pressed pause.

WALKER: Yeah, stopped it. It was absolutely bizarre. I sat there looking a little bit puzzled, and loving what I was seeing. And then sort of with my copywriter's brain on I started going, "Well hold on a minute, is that a good advert?"

The ad strays pretty far from your typical commercial in that it doesn't offer any information about the actual product it's trying to sell.

So does something like a drumming gorilla convince people to buy more chocolate?

Tony Bilsborough is a spokesman for Cadbury.

TONY BILSBOROUGH: We saw sales rise by more than 10 percent. It's a phenomenal amount.

Ad-man Ben Walker says the commercial also changed advertising by opening companies up to more exciting ideas. He sat on a jury that voted it one of the best ads of the year.

From then on, the question in corporate boardrooms has been...

WALKER: What's the next Gorilla, we want the next one of those, yeah.

Cadbury followed up with two more ads, including this commercial.

It shows a drag race between all those weird looking trucks you see at the airport: the portable staircase, the conveyor truck and the baggage trolley stuffed with suitcases. All of them racing down an empty runway at night.

None of the ads have run in the U.S., but Cadbury's Tony Bilsborough says they've received millions of hits on You Tube, and inspired dozens of homemade spoofs from all over the world.

BILSBOROUGH: The advertising itself has actually made Cadbury -- the brand -- cool again.

And cool is something Kraft will probably have to pay extra for.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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