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A sweet story

Amitabh Bachchan in a Cadbury ad   | Photo Credit: 09dmc cadbury

Back in the early nineties, a trip to the grocery store always meant possible treats. Surrounded by shiny packages (in more limited and less baffling choices than the frenzy of today), I'd wait till the boring, sensible products were picked out, and my mother could turn her attention to the more important matter of...which chocolate did I want? I always got a Cadbury Daily milk bar, and she always got nothing. Sometimes, my father would come with us, and he always got nothing too.

This was confusing, because those things were delicious, and it made no sense to me that grown ups, who, all said and done, did like eating all these other less tasty things, would want nothing to do with the wonder that was good chocolate. I also knew that at least my father enjoyed them almost as much as I did, and enough to break off precious squares from my bar. But some unfair stereotype had shovelled all that wonderful, delicious goodness into the children’s area, and lugged the poor adults with the idea that growing up meant growing out of things; out of amusement parks and colouring books and chocolate and paper-boats –– things which actually have very little to do with age.

It was especially good then, to see those first few ads that formed the “Real Taste of Life” campaign by Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM). Conceived by Ogilvy & Mather India’s Executive Chairman and Creative Director Piyush Pandey, a name almost synonymous with India’s ad world, the campaign was pure joy distilled into a few seconds of screen time. Suddenly, all these grown ups — these responsible, serious grown ups — had bars of CDM bars in their hands. Teachers, batsmen, grandfathers, pregnant women, college friends, lovers, referees, policemen — the target group for Cadbury had changed, and it was okay for adults to indulge now, and indulge in public.

Of course, the reason behind the breakthrough campaign was more prosaic. By the early 1990s, Dairy Milk had begun to reach a kind of stagnation point, it TG limited to kids. So far, it had stuck to stereotypes, but to move ahead, it now needed to break them.

Enter Pandey, who returned from a vacation in Hawaii with an idea that changed the course of CDM and its market in the country. Moving in a completely new direction, the ads in the Real Taste of Life ( Asli Swaad Zindagi Ka) campaign featured mainly adults, and also introduced the idea of eating CDM to celebrate the big and small joys of life. The Hindi lyrics of that very catchy, still hummable jingle “ Kuchh khaas hai hum sabhi mein”, caught the nation’s attention, and even today, it would take a very bad day and some incredible self control to not break into a grin while watching that iconic girl on the cricket field ad.

Her joy is contagious, and very cleverly, the ad connected three clear threads, the Indian passion for cricket, her unadulterated happiness and that big bar of CDM she’s eating.

The first move towards a wider TG determined, and segued quite easily, into all the other CDM campaigns that followed. It became the brand that accepted the universal appeal of chocolates, across age groups. Slowly, it introduced further variations, pushing the envelope and selling the possibility of chocolate as more than just an occasional or rare indulgence.

A young Cyrus Broacha distributed bars of dairy milk at a wedding, and then, in another ad, at a crowded market place. The “ Khaane waalon ko khaane ka bahaana chahiye” tagline proposed the need to do away with a particular reason to eat a CDM bar. It elevated the product from an indulgence buy to an impulse one, doing away with the concept of a special occasion.

A break from the usual campaign strategies came in 2003, when CDM had to grapple with a controversy involving worms in the chocolate. The brand’s wholesome, warm image was threatened, and sales dropped drastically. For a few months, CDM advertisements went off air. When they did make a comeback, it was with, among other measures, a new purity seal packaging and the added help of its new brand ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan appeared on TV with testimonials assuring customers of CDM’s quality and safety.

After tackling the controversy, CDM moved on to once again increasing the scope of chocolate consumption in the country. It decided to crack the one area which would widen its playing field considerably –– the Indian traditional sweetmeat market. The idea of gifting mithai, and eating it , is a very strong part of Indian culture, and introducing CDM products as possible alternatives to the traditional mithai formed the basis of the “ Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaaye Campaign”. It is this campaign that continues today, with variations like “ Shubh Aarambh” and “ Pehli Taareekh”.

With each new campaign, and each new ad, CDM increases its scope a little more, each variation a new reason to eat some more chocolate. The chocolates themselves have seen new packages, new flavours, and new tastes. The Dairy Milk Silks are an entirely new addition, and their own campaigns a different story altogether. Today, in the grocery store, I don’t always opt for the once favourite CDM bar. When I do, though, I remember that girl bursting onto the cricket field and realise that I might have grown up, but fortunately, I didn’t grow out of chocolates.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 1:52:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-sweet-story/article6869182.ece

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