Cadbury Caramilk

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (GOLD)

Client Credits: Kraft Canada
John Phillipson
Mackenzie Davidson
Laura Henderson
Navita Rathod
Lisa Towle

Agency Credits: The Hive
Simon Creet
Michelle Prowse
Paul Parolin
Michelle Spivak
Anne Smythe
Shar Khursigara
Sabaa Quao
Stas Zlobinski
Alina Prussky

Crossover Notes:
Crossover Notes: All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2012 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 9. Turnarounds.
Crossover Note 14. Refreshing a continuing campaign.
Crossover Note 16. When a campaign stumbles.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):June 2010 - April 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: June 1 2010
Base Period as a Benchmark: June 2009 to April 2010

a) Overall Assessment
Want to know a secret? Sure you do. Everybody loves secrets. Who killed JFK? Did Carly Simon write ‘You’re so Vain’ about Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty or Mick Jagger? How do they get the soft, flowing caramel inside the Caramilk bar?

Caramilk is legendary amongst Canadian chocolate bars. In part because of the delicious product and in equal part because of its long history of iconic advertising built around The Caramilk Secret. Since the 1960s, over 20 different commercials have been created by various Canadian advertising agencies, all of which featured individuals trying their best to discover the Caramilk secret. Without question it was one of the longest running and most beloved advertising campaigns in Canadian history. It was, that is, until 2007 when, in reaction to a changing competitive landscape, Caramilk shelved The Secret and moved to an indulgence story. Perhaps changing is not a strong enough word. From 2003 to 2009 the total chocolate ad spend increased from $30.5 million to $46.1 million annually. This increase came largely from new entries, line extensions and increased spend from Cadbury’s key competitors: Mars and Nestlé.

The same time period saw a shift in consumer buying habits, from the front of store, where singles had long reigned supreme, to the back of the store where larger format bars and bags were offering more value (and more chocolate) to shoppers. Moreover, singles was a mature segment and penetration in the chocolate category had reached a plateau which left the brand wondering where future growth would come from. The combination of these factors put significant pressure on Caramilk singles sales and resulted in the indulgence strategy mentioned above. This only made matters worse however. Consumers no longer recognized their beloved brand, and the resulting confusion led to significant equity declines. [Crossover Note 16]

b) Resulting Business Objectives
Caramilk was determined to return to its former glory. Word for word the vision was to “Tantalize the minds and mouths of Canadians, awakening a new age of curiosity.” Translation: use the Caramilk Secret to put an end to a five-year decline in equity scores. To do this we would need to regain lapsed users, increase consumption amongst occasional users and expand Caramilk to new users and new occasions.

In more tangible terms, the challenge was to increase total Caramilk sales by 2%, Caramilk singles sales by 10% and move Caramilk back to the number one singles bar in Canada for the duration of the campaign.

c) Annual Media Budget
$2 - $3 million

d) Geographic Area
Canada National

a) Analysis and Insight
In the 1960s, when the Caramilk Secret was born, secrets were not an uncommon thing. Diaries were filled with them. Closets were stuffed with them. TV shows, from Get Smart to Hogan’s Heroes, were based on them. Everybody had a few. They were just a fact of life. Today, secrets are an endangered species. The internet has ensured that we are never more than one click away from any and all answers. The paparazzi have made celebrity’s personal lives public and social media has allowed us to do the same with our own. Turn on the TV and you’re fed a steady diet of celebrity scoops, spoiler alerts, Wikileaks and phone hacks. In a world where everything is knowable, the value of a well-kept secret has never been so high.

We knew that, more than ever before, the Caramilk Secret had tremendous untapped power but in order to release that power it first needed to be transformed from fiction to fact. [Crossover Note 14] You can tell your children stories about Santa and make them watch Miracle on 34th Street, but nothing can compare to the first time they see the jolly old elf sitting on the top of the final float in the parade. Canadians have always held the Caramilk Secret in their hearts but what if they could hold it in their hands too? No longer just a playful ad campaign, the Secret now sits inside a gold envelope, locked inside a 1000-pound gold safe, deep within the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. And ten very lucky Canadians would be given the chance to unlock that safe and become a protector of the Secret.

b) Communication Strategy
The campaign was built on the promise of one Canadian unlocking that safe and protecting the secret for 6 months. If they could resist the urge to peek they would be paid a quarter of a million dollars for their services. Ten keys were hidden inside specially marked Caramilk bars and randomly distributed across Canada. The lucky people who found keys were flown to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory for a special ceremony where each key was given a chance to unlock the Caramilk safe. The lucky winner received $125,000 right away and $125,000 when they returned the secret unopened six months later.

Television and online were used to introduce the concept of the quest for the Golden Keys and to explain how the program worked. OOH, Print and Social Media were used to fuel the frenzy of the search by giving real time updates on when and where keys were found and profiling the key finders themselves. Connecting the campaign to retail was a crucial element for success. At point of purchase, not only were special displays installed but, for the first time ever, Caramilk packaging was altered to prominently feature the iconic Key to The Secret that also appeared in all other mediums.

a) Media Used
- National Television
- National Online Advertising
- Facebook and Twitter
- OOH in Toronto & Montreal
- Urban Dailies in Toronto and Montreal
- Interactive Window Projections in Toronto & Montreal

b) Creative Discussion
The campaign launched with television featuring a misguided archeologist searching the sands for a golden key only to be told that the keys were hidden inside Caramilk bars. [SEE CREATIVE A TV FRAMES] was transformed into search-central for the campaign featuring our archeologist’s cross Canada quest as well as updates on keys as they were found. [SEE CREATIVE B CARAMILK.CA]

Large OOH boards were turned into giant key racks and updated when new keys were discovered.[SEE CREATIVE C YONGE & DUNDAS BOARD]

If the key was one of the main icons of the promotion, the safe was the other. Cover wraps transformed Metro newspapers into Caramilk safes and in Toronto and Montreal window projections took the Caramilk safe and planted it on Queen West and St. Catherine. When curious consumers got too close they triggered protective measures that ensured the safe stayed, well, safe. [SEE CREATIVE D METRO COVER WRAP & E QUEEN WEST WINDOW PROJECTIONS]

Social media was another big part of the campaign. Caramilk fans are super loyal and super engaged, nowhere more so than on Facebook. During the promotion the chatter was non-stop and filled with theories, predictions and lots of congratulations when keys were found. [SEE CREATIVE F FACEBOOK SCREENGRAB]

Finally, packaging and in-store displays ensured that anywhere Caramilk bars were sold, the program was front and centre tempting consumers to try their luck. [SEE CREATIVE G CARAMILK PACKAGING & H RETAIL DISPLAYS]

Combined, these creative elements worked to capture people’s imagination and build the searching frenzy across Canada.

c) Media Discussion
Television and online introduced the concept and explained how the program worked. OOH, Print and Social Media fuelled the frenzy of the search by giving real time updates on when and where keys were found and profiling the key finders themselves. Connecting the campaign to retail was a crucial element for success. At point of purchase, not only were special displays installed but, for the first time ever, Caramilk packaging was altered to prominently feature the Key to The Secret.

a) Sales/Share Results
• Caramilk moved to the #1 bar in Canada during the advertising activity and remained in that position for the following quarter. [Crossover Note 9]

• Caramilk grew to 7.8 share of singles (+2.6 points vs 2009).

• Singles grew +51% overall, with a +70% in August 2010, showing consumer interest right up until the end of the campaign. [SEE EXHIBIT 1 NATIONAL CONSUMPTION]

• Multipacks grew +19% year over year and contributed + 0.9 share points to Cadbury’s total chocolate portfolio.

• The campaign contributed both incremental and baseline growth. This is the first time in years that Cadbury had seen substantial growth on the base Caramilk business. [SEE EXHIBIT 2 CARAMILK BASELINE $Vol% CHG)]

The objective was to deliver $1.5 million in retail sales. Retailers rallied around and a total of $3.1 million incremental volume was achieved.

So, what impact did the campaign have on the brand itself? Caramilk saw a rise of +12 points in its equity score -- the most significant gain in last decade.

Relevance saw a +17 points increase, reversing a 5 year decline. Loyalty was up 9% - the most significant 2010 gain in the overall chocolate category. And there was a significant increase in non users, illustrating that the campaign had brought lapsed users back into the fold.

Engagement Results

• The Campaign garnered over 200 stories in the press and increased the brand’s overall SOV significantly including 50% online SOV during the period of advertising. [SEE EXHIBIT 3 PR IMAGES]

• Starting with a very small fan base, Facebook exploded to over 40,000 fans within weeks of the advertising activity. And it hasn’t stopped growing since. At the time of writing this case the fan base is almost 90,000.

There is also little doubt in our minds that the campaign drove purchase frequency. [SEE EXHIBIT 4 INTERNAL MEMO]

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
Key to the Secret was the sole brand activation for Caramilk in 2010 and the only variable over the time frame covered in this case. Media spending levels remained consistent from past years as did pricing. In fact the advertising was solely responsible for moving equity measures. [SEE EXHIBIT 5 CARAMILK ADVERTISING EQUITY RESULTS]

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: Spending levels have remained constant

Pricing: Pricing has remained constant.

Distribution Changes: There were no significant distribution changes.

Unusual Promotional Activity: This campaign was the sole initiative of 2010.

Other Potential Causes: na