When Purpose Driven Marketing Goes Wrong: The Cadbury Story

When Purpose Driven Marketing Goes Wrong: The Cadbury Story

brown and black wooden blocks

Purpose driven (or values based) marketing is what WestCoastCo. is all about. Over 50% of global consumers identify as belief driven buyers, so by putting your values first and focusing on standing up for what you believe in, you’ll make real and lasting connections with your audience. Of course, your values and your purpose must be authentic; you can’t just jump on a popular cause to make money, and this is where things can go horribly wrong. Remember when Kendall Jenner fought off police brutality with a can of Pepsi? So wrong.

Right now, we’ve got a fantastic example of one massive brand that’s running two inauthentic purpose driven campaigns simultaneously. Cadbury have campaigns running in India and in the UK as I type, and both of these have been incredibly divisive.

Let’s begin with India and the brand new, limited edition Unity Bar to celebrate Independence Day. Just a quick note before I begin: this campaign is a comment on India’s caste system, rather than western racism, but many of the issues stand in either case.

This new chocolate bar features white, blended, milk and dark chocolate “all under one wrapper”, and I have to begin by just pointing out how delicious it looks…

Needless to say (because Twitter is always outraged about something), Twitter was outraged by this campaign as soon as it hit the news. Cadbury have come under fire for “trying to fix racism with chocolate”:

It’s also been pointed out that each colour of chocolate is segregated in its own line:

The major issue with this campaign, though, is how inauthentic and downright empty the whole thing is. For many of us, the mere idea of launching a chocolate bar to combat systemic racism is laughable. What will it achieve?

For Cadbury, it managed to achieve massive brand awareness and profit.

Profit for Cadbury. Because that was the intention of this campaign. Here, Cadbury have piggybacked off a very real problem in India to make a heck of a lot of money. They’ve made emotional connections with vulnerable people to line their own pockets – not a penny from the sale of this new chocolate bar is actually going to fight the problem.

Their second campaign is running a little closer to home, and if you’re on LinkedIn then you’ll probably see this at least ten times an hour on your feed. Unfortunately, there’s no tasty chocolate gimmick for us – it’s all in the packaging:

Here, Cadbury is partnering with Age UK to “donate their words”. 225,000 older people in the UK often go a whole week without speaking to someone, so Cadbury is “donating their words” to them. 30p from the sale of each cleverly blank bar goes to Age UK, so at least this campaign is really supporting a cause.

Cool, right?
Ehhhh… unfortunately not.

For the past decade, Cadbury’s owners have been accused of “aggressive tax avoidance“. The taxes that have been avoided or unpaid would likely go towards schemes to benefit exactly the people this marketing campaign is supposed to help.

The thing about purpose driven marketing is, the purpose must reflect the company as a whole or the entire campaign becomes inauthentic. Back in the late nineteenth century, George Cadbury was all about using his wealth to promote social reform and justice, but that’s a far cry from where the company stands today.

Purpose driven marketing works. When you’re authentic and truly believe in your values and your cause, you’ll foster real and lasting relationships with consumers and hopefully make the world a little better along the way. The key is to remain authentic – don’t just jump on the bandwagon for a cause because people are talking about it – and strive to make a difference, not just a profit.

Do you know what your brand’s primary value is? Take our free test to find out!