Campaign of the Week

20 February 2024

Cadbury helps singles avoid Valentine’s Day with time-zone trip 

Confectionery brand in India continues its crusade against Valentine's Day, with a trip that bypasses the romantic holiday

Mondelēz India-owned chocolate brand Cadbury 5 Star is helping singletons escape Valentine’s Day again for its Erase Valentine’s Day campaign.

Three volunteers will board the F.N.S Cringe Vinash, a ship that will journey ‘back through time’ by crossing the international date line between American Samoa and Samoa precisely at 11:59pm on 13 February (American Samoa time), thereby jumping straight to 12:00am on 15 February (Samoa time).

The campaign, created by agency Ogilvy India, Mumbai, allows crew members to skip the 24 hours of love-filled couple celebrations completely. The brand will ensure the campaign will reach a wider audience by live-streaming the event, which is being orchestrated from a control room in Mumbai.

There will be plenty of 5 Star chocolate bars to hand, and the lucky ship-goers will be given the chance to ‘do nothing’, reflecting the brand’s popular slogan.

The campaign was supported by an ad announcing the ship’s mission to erase Valentine’s Day and inviting people to enrol as ‘Mission Engineers’ via a dedicated website. The ad features space scientist Nambi Narayanan explaining how the ‘time-travel vessel’ works.

According to the website, mission engineers will play an active role in the event: they will be able to virtually connect with the control room and contribute to certain live decisions made by the crew.

Results / According to the agency, social listening data shows 99% positive sentiment towards the ad.

Contagious Insight 

Romance is dead / By positioning itself as a Valentine's Day denier for the past five years, the brand has dodged the typical narrative of romantic gestures and instead embraced the anti-Valentine’s movement. This not only sets Cadbury 5 Star apart from traditional chocolate brands but also aligns perfectly with the product’s essence – it's not a luxurious chocolate that you’d give a partner, but rather, an indulgence meant for personal enjoyment. It’s a smart strategy to help it stand out during a crucial consumption occasion for chocolatiers – by carving out a distinct niche for itself in the crowded chocolate market on Valentine’s Day, Cadbury 5 Star shows that, sometimes, going against the grain is your brand’s best bet.

Dedication to you / This campaign underscores the importance of finding a compelling idea and sticking to it, a strategy exemplified by the brand's focus on catering to singletons during Valentine's Day. Notably, Cadbury 5 Star’s previous campaigns in 2022 and 2023 provided an alibi for singles seeking to skip the celebration and offered assistance in avoiding Valentine’s Day hot spots through a GPS-enabled web app. The brand’s commitment to helping singles on 14 February, reinforced with each activation, isn’t just a way to drive sales for its product on the day, it emboldens its image in the long term, making it appear cheeky, relatable and loveable.

Erase Valentine’s Day is a fresh execution on this strategy – but it’s also its boldest and most eye-catching one yet. By dispatching a vessel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, enlisting a legendary space scientist and broadcasting the event online to a wide audience, the brand shows it is ready to go above and beyond to land its anti-Valentine’s joke. The brand’s consistent presence around Valentine’s Day also means that people now expect it to show up and deliver a worthwhile experience and the level of dedication that the brand shows with the ‘time-travel’ vessel is a huge PR coup for the brand that is unlikely to leave anyone disappointed.

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