Cadbury & Premier League Partnership

The ESA Excellence Award winner – Cadbury from the UK  discussed the strategies, behind-the-scenes and details of their interesting, successful activations.

Connecting with retail partners to reach chocolate lovers and Premier League fans

 Cadbury, a British multinational chocolate and confectionery company owned by Mondelez International, won the ESA B2B Sponsorship of the Year Award. The sponsorship activation of their partnership with the Premier League aimed to increase chocolate sales and deliver value back to the consumers who buy chocolate. In the last years, Cadbury’s sales decreased significantly due to extreme competition from other manufacturers offering discounts and promotions, and in order to turn things around, they had to create unique, market-leading activities that would support their consumers and their retail partners. They saw the Premier League as a partner that could help them achieve their goals. Working collaboratively with their retail partners, they implemented a number of activities, such as the Match & Win campaign which offered fabulous prizes for football fans. By buying a promotional chocolate bar and entering the code from inside the wrapper at their website, they could predict a Premier League score, and if their score matched the real one, they won a prize – one of Premier League match day experiences, Premier League match tickets or match balls. The campaign was activated across more than 80 million products and included some of the legendary football players.

Positive feedback from employees and retail partners  

Cadbury’s B2B sponsorship activation project was managed by MKTG, a marketing agency from London and Cadbury’s sports marketing and sponsorship partner operating as an extension of their own marketing team. When asked about Premier League as a sponsorship platform, Andrew Cahill, Business Director at MKTG, explains that like Cadbury, football in the UK dates back to the 1800s and has since become an ingrained part of their culture and way of life. “Football is connected to almost everyone in the UK, to a greater or lesser extent, it creates moments of joy and brings people from all backgrounds together. So, with football as a starting point, we saw the Premier League as a partner capable of supporting the activation scale at which Cadbury operates, and vice-versa. They are both global super brands.”

According to Cahill, as a partner of the Premier League, they had the opportunity to create something that reaches across the Cadbury business, not just the marketing function. This is reflective of the way they began their story – with their employees and their business partners, “For us, the first step was to share the news with our employees and teams, outline what it would mean for them and the significant role they would play in making it happen. For this, we leveraged some of the rights we could access to bring this message to life, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction was exactly the impact we had hoped for. Likewise, when we shared the news at all levels with our retail partners, it was met with positive feedback, comments and some fantastic ideas. This was obviously great to see and it set the pathway for us to work on exciting and ground-breaking activation projects together.”

Challenging the retail partners’ traditional boundaries and ways of working

Although the project was primarily focused on retail partners that would support Cadbury’s business objectives, it is ultimately the end customer who decides whether they buy a product or not, and so everything Cadbury has created with this partnership, has aimed to deliver value back to the consumers. “In order to achieve this, we worked collaboratively with our retail partners to implement strong promotions that were engaging, interesting and valued by consumers.  From day one, our retail partners recognised the opportunity for us to work together and create unique, market-leading activities that would support their business objectives as well as Cadbury’s. Many of these activities would challenge their traditional boundaries, ways of working and much to their credit, they embraced it,” says Cahill. The Premier League’s commercial team also provided expert advice in helping them maximise the various rights they had access to.

Maintaining focus on the objective and not deviating from it

Cahill believes that the key to this approach is to maintain focus on the objective, “Know how to achieve your objective, with a clear and succinct plan, and do not deviate from it. Furthermore, get to know how your company or client makes money and grows revenue. It sounds simple, but understanding this will take your partnership programmes to the next level of success. From an agency perspective, our understanding of the Cadbury business has enabled us to better identify ways to achieve objectives and subsequently help Cadbury maximise the partnership.

With this in mind, the key difference between a B2B and B2C approach lies in the ways of working and plan of action. “A collaborative approach to leveraging a partnership which supports the objectives of all parties involved means getting business partners and key stakeholders involved from day one. Whereas B2C activities might focus more on understanding consumer buyer behaviours and brand consumption channels,” explains Cahill.  Conversely, the key similarity between B2B and B2C is truly knowing the audience – their interests, passions, and what is going to make a difference in their lives. “For Cadbury, success is underpinned by an understanding of both retail partners and consumers,” concludes Cahill.

Author: Simona Kruhar Gaberšček. The article was first published in SPORTO Magazine No. 11 (May 2018). Also available at SPORTO conference website