Emily Tan
Jun 4, 2013

CASE STUDY: How messages in chocolate boosted sales for Cadbury Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - A simple marketing brief from Cadbury to boost sales and engage shoppers turned into something more profound when OgilvyAction found a way to stamp secret messages into chocolate bars.

wide player in 16:9 format. Used on article page for Campaign.


Cadbury's brief was to "create a campaign that helps generate in-store sales by engaging shoppers at a brand level and also trigger impulse purchases". OgilvyAction, however, decided to take the opportunity further and create a bond between the brand and the shopper that would stand out from the fleeting communication methods of today. 


To generate in-store sales and to create a brand engagement shoppers would remember and treasure, which also tied into the brand promise of 'Sharing the Happiness'. 


"It started with the single gem of an idea: What if we had a machine or a printing press which could stamp a personal message on a bar of chocolate that only a special person could see?" said Mahesh Neelakantan, managing director of OgilvyAction Malaysia. "And what if we could bring it to people at the store level and let them use their own words?" 

The agency then started trying different methods to see if this idea was at all possible. In some cases, the method didn't damage the wrapper, but damaged the chocolate, leaving it broken. In others the results were too faint or inconsistent. 

"The breakthrough came with an old antiquated letterpress in Malacca, Malaysia," said Neelakantan. "Then we had to find a way to simplify the mechanism and bring it down to portable size, something that seemed impossible until we found a factory in China that was still mass-producing letterpress elements." 

In triumph, the agency went to Cadbury with the idea and found the project would only be approved after the method was checked and found that it did not harm the chocolate or distort its shape in any way. "We waited for five days in restless anxiety until we learnt that all 50 bars had passed the QC," he recalled. 

The approved chocolate press was then brought to Tesco Malaysia in Mutiara Damansara, and the results were so strong that the agency is currently working on methods of crowd control and speeding up the printing process.


Tesco sold its entire daily stock of Cadbury Daily Milk chocolate within three hours, and the YouTube video of the event was viewed more than 13,000 times before being replaced with an updated video on Sunday. 

'Say it with Cadbury Dairy Milk' has now been extended and will be rolled out across Malaysia in conjunction with Father's Day, 16 June 2013. The service will be available to shoppers for three consecutive weekends, starting 1 June, with the purchase of a bar of chocolate in 30 selected retail outlets. 

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