A look at the confectionary brand’s history, and how these much-loved chocolate bars come into being
he colour purple is almost synonymous with the globally-recognised British confectionary brand Cadbury. The Cadbury brothers, Richard and George, in 1914, allegedly as a tribute to the royal family, introduced a distinctive purple packaging for chocolate bars, which has been used on their chocolate wrappers for over 100 years. Queen Victoria granted a royal warrant to Cadbury, making it the chocolate of choice among the royal family. Purple has been extensively used in royal regalia, from decorations, symbols, raiment, finery, coats-of-arms, robes, sceptres, emblems and haute couture with one-of-a-kind embellishments.
The purple-coloured fabric was chosen for Queen Elizabeth II’s crown, in which the famous Kohinoor diamond is set. The swirling word mark of the Cadbury symbol also has a long evolutionary history. The existing one is based on the signature style of William Cadbury from 1921. Another distinctive brand mark is the Glass and a Half in every bar of chocolate – a very potent reference to the brand’s historical recipe and the fact that there is kindness in every individual.
When discussing the case studies from the lens of branding, advertising and marketing communications, one of my favourites is a recent campaign by Cadbury Dairy Milk, where the entire branding is replaced with quotes from the elderly on the packaging – leaving behind just the purple colour. This proves the power of Aristotle’s persuasive rhetorical appeals set out in 350 BC, in particular, pathos that uses emotions and passion for persuading somebody, rather than ethos and logos – utilising the brand credibility, logical reasoning and evidence to convince consumers.
This short-term project in partnership with Age UK demonstrated that even the smallest of gestures could sweeten the life of a lonely elderly person. Loneliness among older adults in the UK is on the rise; with almost 2,500 of these people never getting to speak to anyone at the later stages of their lives. For this purpose, a unique edition bar, Donating From Words was released by Cadbury, with 30p from each sold bar going to Age UK, to support their work providing essential services and support for the elderly. In one of the surveys, six million senior people claimed that even a little chat could have a good impact on their day.
Rose, a 79-year-old woman who kissed Elvis Presley; 81-year-old Bob who described his run-in with the prime minister’s bodyguards; Anne, a 79-year-old thrill seeker who, in her younger years drove over the Alps all by herself with her toddler by her side; 84-year-old Harry who confesses that he and his family ran away to the circus. These and thousands of other stories were printed on approximately ten million chocolate bars. This brand personality is not new, as the Bournville Village Trust was founded in 1900 by George Cadbury with a gift of 313 homes, not just for workers of the chocolate factory but for people from low-income backgrounds. The philanthropic pattern has survived. These houses were called the Ten Shilling or Sunshine Houses.
We, in the present-day South Asia, face different challenges, though Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye and Kuch Acha Ho Jaye are punch lines everyone can relate to. Visual translations from print and screen adverts immediately evoke ideas of luxury, indulgence and deliciousness; the tagline’s target market has been accustomed to this over the past twenty years. Kudos to creative agencies behind Cadbury’s adverts, who later accomplished respectable and incisive storytelling and realistic execution in educating the general public on sharing happiness by doing little favours to others. Pathos triumphs once more.
We, in the present-day South Asia, face different challenges, though Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye and Kuch Acha Ho Jaye are punch lines everyone can relate to. Visual translations from print and screen adverts immediately evoke ideas of luxury, indulgence and deliciousness.
A celebrated English writer and novelist, Michael Korda, very aptly says, “Curiosity is the best motive for writing: curiosity about the world at large or oneself”. Since childhood, my curiosity levels have been relatively high. There might be a few possible reasons for that; my brain’s hippocampus has a prominent dentate gyrus, which floods more dopamine, making me feel happier… or maybe it’s just because of all the chocolates I eat, which I do very often.
When I found for the first time that the world-famous Cadbury World is based in Birmingham, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t visit. So, together with my wife and our kids, I emphatically embarked on this adventure with the sole purpose of learning more about the history of this much-loved confectionery brand and also, about how our favourite bars come into existence – after all, seeing is believing.
After parking our car in one of the empty bays, we started walking towards the entrance of the Cadbury World. Through glass doors, we entered a big hall, full of visitors and lots of chocolates stacked on tiered isles, packaged in individual bags, boxes and rolls and multipacks. We approached a long queue for visitors and saw the friendly mascots of Freddo, Creme Egg, Caramel Bunny and Mr Cadbury’s Parrot. We managed to take a few pictures with Freddo, though my little one got afraid for a moment. The rest of the characters were quite busy, as visitors continued to take photos and selfies with them.
Once we approached the ticket counter, a very polite lady over the counter scanned our tickets and handed over a mixed bag of chocolates which were on the house, as a welcoming gesture. As we proceeded, we were already in a dark Aztec jungle with dim colourful lights, sound, screens and plenty of wax models from the Meso-American history of Olmec, Mayan and Aztec forests. It was a rare chance to discover the cocoa bean’s exotic origins with the help of multimedia technologies. I particularly enjoyed the calendar stone, which guided Aztec people and their gods about the sun and moon cycles, days and months, and time.
We experienced a fantastic storytelling session through unique lifelike sets and wax models of the negotiations of Emperor Montezuma – who was very protective of his cocoa – with a Spaniard named Hernan Cortes, who then brought cocoa and ‘chocolat’ back to Spain after conquering Mexico. The next section was about the cocoa journey to Europe through projection mapping of the then European traders, dealers and vendors, finally becoming Cadbury Cocoa. The next dwell showed us the trail of White’s chocolate and coffee houses of late 1600 in and around St James, London. The last part of this exciting tour ended with a beautiful documentary about chocolate making, from cocoa beans to liquid chocolate.
Once we came out of this historical expedition of cocoa, we saw a small tempering machine full of chocolate. This machine mixes and cools off liquid chocolate into a more stable crystalline form. After that another archival journey through rare photographs, films, and artefacts starts, saying Made in Bournville through the corridors of a building that was once a warehouse from the 1920s. It’s the story of a new city set up by the Cadbury brothers, four and a half miles away from central Birmingham in 1866.
It was titled The Factory in the Garden, later known as Bournville. The archive says that it all started with 230 employees who, by the 1960s, increased to 12,000. As I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t about setting up the factory, but the entire village, where the factory workers and their families could live peacefully with free medical and dental services and play clubs. One rare photograph shows the centenary of the firm Cadbury, from 1831-1931, with thousands of employees gathered on the colossal cricket ground, which still exists. We found an interesting fact that female workers were called Cadbury Angels till 1960, wearing white uniforms. I thought for a moment that those who wore the white clothes must have been highly organised to work with chocolate – they still are.
We ended up in another queue for the mesmerising Cadabra ride with a rhythmic experience. Then we went to the chocolate-making zone, experiencing fun-filled activities throughout, where we received another free cup of chocolate buttons with liquid chocolate. It was a great experience to see the complete demo of how a bar of chocolate is made. Next was Purple Planet, an immersive and sensory world composed entirely of chocolate – chocolate rain, chocolate flowers, and chocolate sky, all wrapped in Cadbury’s shiny purple livery with excellent interactive projection-mapped experiences.
Once we came out, we did a few more activities, including experiencing a 4D chocolate adventure with linear polarised glasses on and an awe-inspiring simulation. On our way out, there were portraits of a few famous characters who appeared in the well-remembered adverts. The Gorilla’s picture reminded me of a simple advertisement consisting of a 90-second tracking shot across a music studio, with In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins playing in the background. This advert was conceived and directed by the Argentine-born creative director Juan Cabral at the advertising agency Fallon London. I wish to design a complete theory course on the awesome advert-commercials Cadbury’s ever made, both for the Global North to the Global South.
Kids also enjoyed the vast themed play area – all chocolate, where they met with the mascots of Liquorice Allsorts and a magician. We couldn’t visit the actual plant this time, where every new chocolate product started life. Some other time, hopefully.
The writer is an art/ design critic. He heads the Department of Visual Communication Design at Mariam Dawood School of Visual Arts & Design, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore