Whether you believe it or not isn’t the point. The announcement on Twitter that Cadbury’s had lost the festive spirit and cancelled supplies of chocolate coins fuelled an outcry of emotion from the crowd. That’s the point. Was this a stunt? That remains to be seen, but Cadbury’s failed to respect the emotions of their audience, either by commercial pressure or by exposing people to the playing up of the brand.
Loudly announcing (with some tactical timing) a well loved brand is to be discontinued is nothing new. We all remember the Heinz Salad Cream stunt after all. “People preferred mayonnaise”, Heinz claimed as they pulled it from the shelves and the five remaining people who actually still bought it, before whipping the crowd into a frenzy of nostalgia and launching a campaign to save it. So is this the modern game in the face of commercial pressure? And if it is, how far can you take it with a public who love a brand? Cadbury’s went so far as to create their own hashtag #choccoingate in a bid to leverage the noise and they may have thought that smart. They forgot that Cadbury’s still has a unique place in the heart of the British public and loyalty only extends so far. This didn’t feel organic – it felt like a karaoke PR stunt. Cadbury’s should be careful what they wish for. The crowd won’t like being hoodwinked.
Maybe the point is that the retail of most products is ubiquitous. We’ve lost the magic. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs were so much nicer when they were only available for four weeks a year. If the reason for the discontinuation is, as they say, simply because the proliferation of own brand copycats have grabbed the market share and they are ‘too fiddly” then for heavens sake – get innovating! Create something exciting and magical. Just do it in time for Christmas!