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  • Writer's pictureSheza

Cadbury's Marketing Strategy—A Case Study

Hey there, my readers. Hope your intellectual journey is going as solid as Cadbury’s marketing strategies. Excuse my excitement to unveil the series of geniuses that helped Cadbury penetrate effortlessly into the minds of Indian youth, so much so that when I think of chocolate, I visualize purple wrapper chocolate-The Classic: Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Cadbury India in 1948:

The year is 1948 and Cadbury is a brand-new company in India. No one has heard of it yet. (It's hard to imagine a time like that, can you?) How does a new company start its journey in a foreign country? Let's take a look at it.

Although the first ever paid TV advertisement was broadcasted in the US in July 1941, Cadbury initially relied heavily on print advertising. In the 1950s, chocolates were perceived as a luxury commodity, which was unique and suited only for upper class society and children. Indians preferred "mithai" which caused a tough entry barrier thereby making it difficult to penetrate in the market. Cadbury began kids-centric communication like "It's a sweeter life with Cadbury” and broke well into the market for children.

Cadbury India in 1994:

After globalization, Cadbury decided to expand its operations in order to penetrate deeper and expanded their TG (Target Audience) to adults. In 1994, Cadbury released its first commercial TV ad campaign with the tag line - Asli Swad Zindagi Ka. Indian youth resonated with the cricket stadium, along with the entertaining advertisement and jingle. Cadbury started to gain popularity even among youth. Eventually, the advertisement transformed the brand image and Cadbury started identifying itself as a chocolate brand for all. The ad was created in 1993 by Piyush Pandey from Ogilvy. Ogilvy is a British advertising agency which has stuck with Cadbury ever since. We can call this advertisement a turning point in Cadbury's market share.

Worm Controversy, 2003 : The biggest opportunity for a Brilliant Cadbury Strategy

If you are a millennial, you might remember the huge fuss the worm controversy caused Cadbury in October 2003. There were complaints made about the infestation in two bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk. This had an adverse effect on Cadbury and a wave of negative publicity arose; 1000 articles about the infestation on print media and 120 on TV news. Lord save them! “Manufacturing defect with unhygienic conditions or improper packaging.” FDA commissioner, Uttam Khobragade’s statement on worm controversy. The company’s credibility was challenged, and the sales melted down by 30%.

Question: What would you do if you were the Marketing head of Cadbury under these circumstances? It’s hard to say, right? While the CEOs and marketing heads were brooding over a quick fix, Amit Upadhyay, a young salesman who thought like a true CEO said, “Sir hum Amitabh Bachchan ko kyu nahi lete? Dekho sir, iss desh mein log do hi aadmi ki baat sunte hai. Vajpayeeji ki ya Amitabh Bachchan ki" (You see, in this country, people listen to the words of only two men, Vajpayeeji and Amitabh Bachchan)," recalls Bharat Puri, the then managing director of Cadbury.

Campaigns with Amitabh Bachchan:

Cut to 2004, in order to regain its lost glory, Cadbury is all set to gain a larger share of loyal customers. Any guesses on what was Cadbury’s next step? Remember earlier we discussed how Indian adults preferred “mithai”. Ogilvy did a small genius tactic and ran the campaign ‘Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaaye’ starring Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, India’s biggest superstar (as advised by Amit Upadhyay). Amitabh Bachchan's mature fan following and stainless goodwill, as well as the word "meetha" in the tagline, helped the brand position itself as a substitute for traditional sweets while regaining credibility.

Since then, Cadbury has captured 70% of the Indian chocolate market. Impressive, isn't it? The most iconic bounce-back in marketing history.

Other Campaigns for Maintaining and expanding business

When you become the big daddy of industry, what should be your next move? Stay a big daddy! After 2004, Cadbury released innovative advertisements that stuck with the audience forever.

1. Cadbury Milk Shots: Mann Mein Laddoo Phoota

With this ad, Ogilvy created a memorable spot that millenials still remember (even the voice and the tone). After its humungous success and accolades, Ogilvy released a series of this ad with the title, "Beta, Mann mein doosra laddoo phoota? Again, Ogilvy used the word "ladoo" to penetrate deeper in the traditional sweets market. How genius is that?

2. Cadbury 5 Star's Ramesh and Suresh Ads

People in India enjoyed the Ramesh Suresh Ad series, one of the most entertaining ads in the country. This ad portrayed the couple who loves 5 STAR and zones out at the most inappropriate times. Hilarious!

3. Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk (Staircase Romance)

Cadbury launched Dairy Milk Silk on Valentine's Day 2010, a smoother, creamier version of Cadbury Dairy Milk. It was marketed as chocolate for teens with a romantic edge. The jingle "Kiss me, hold your eyes, miss me” has stuck with every millennial and goes on even today. The TG for Silk is the youth.

3. Cadbury Dairy Milk: Shubh Aarambh

Another genius tactic by Cadbury was to leverage the Indian trend of having something sweet before a starting a venture or any event of high importance. Even the music that plays in the TV commercial has an Indian traditional touch that reinforces the brand's image as an Indian brand.

4. #NotJustACadburyAd: Shah Rukh Khan

During the pandemic local stores were badly hit, some recovered and some were still under the turbulence and uncertainty. A survey was also shared all over India, where people had listed their local stores that were badly hit. Ogilvy, with the help of AI promoted the listed stores. This act of inclusivity enhanced Cadbury's goodwill and touched a million hearts.

5. #GoodLuckGirls- Remake of 1994 Cadbury Cricket Commercial

Cadbury recreated its iconic cricket ad of '94. However, this time with a twist. A women's cricket match where a man on the sideline is seen cheering for his girlfriend who is on the field. The man is enjoying the match while munching on a Dairy Milk. His girlfriend scores a winning six. The boyfriend is shown celebrating the win by dancing and running in the field to hug her. In India, cricket has been a man's game. This twist was refreshing as it showcased women's progress in India and left the audience feeling emotional and empowered.

My Cadbury Journey:

I was fortunate enough to work with Cadbury in August 2022 to January 2023 as an omni-marketing intern. If you haven't heard about Cadbury Joy Deliveries, this is your time to visit this website :

I worked on a Digital Shelf Revamp Project that included changing the look and feel of the listings of Cadbury chocolates across platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Big Basket for higher clicks. I also worked with the marketing team on 3 festive campaigns—Diwali, Christmas and Valentines. We developed quirky gifting and an effective user experience through this website. A few gift developments that I was a part of:

Cadbury and Ogilvy have done a genius job building Cadbury's brand, thereby maximizing sales. How effectively and strategically a brand positions itself in the market and connects with the audience is the key to a successful business, and Cadbury has done it exceptionally well.

Which Cadbury TV commercial is your favourite?

  • 0%Cadbury Milk Shots: Mann Mein Laddoo Phoota

  • 0% Cadbury 5 Star's Ramesh and Suresh Ads

  • 0%Cadbury Dairy Milk: Shubh Aarambh

  • 0%#NotJustACadburyAd: Shah Rukh Khan


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This is so interesting and informative. Loved the blog and how well researched it is. Looking forward to more blogs.

Feb 07, 2023
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Thank you Ria!


This is definitely an interesting Blog. It's nice to know about Cadbury's journey in India. I personally feel that Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye by Amitabh Bachchan has really helped in marketing of Cadbury's in India.

Your efforts in this research need a big round of applause. My best wishes to your future blogs. I'm sure they are going to be informative and interesting.

Feb 07, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, good observation. I think it was a super smart move to leverage Mr. Amitabh's stainless goodwill! Got to learn about effective marketing strategies by writing this piece.

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