Cadbury Ads – A Dash of Sweetness

cadbury ads kuch meetha ho jaye

Unlike the west with all the different chocolate brands, in India the chunk of the market share is dominated by Cadbury. It’s Dairy Milk brand is almost synonymous to chocolates and one often uses the brand name interchangeably with the common noun. This product line was launched in 1905. More than a century old and still it remains in fashion.

Kya swad hai zindagi key.. roughly translates to the flavour of life..

As I was reading about the various ad campaigns I came to know that it was a deliberate move on the part of the brand to start to target grown ups. To sell something delicious and loved by children, to the very adults who fear its harmful affects on weight and teeth, must be a challenging task. Cadbury had a plan, which obviously works out fabulously.

The snack bar adds are too funky for my taste, but the regular lines of Cadbury commercials are a delight to the senses. For me their adds are not about flawless execution or rich visuals of sensual smooth mouth-watering fantasy. The adds that I end up remembering are about people and the comforting feeling of joy and and exhilaration of celebration.

I can read you lips on your fingertips, I can feel your smile, come on my lips, and happiness in your eyes..

Kiss me, close your eyes..


Fruit and Nut, Gems, Crackle and the relatively newer lines of Temptations and Silk… The way to celebrate minor wins to major victories. For indulging in cravings on sad lonely nights or sharing in the bright daylight. With the taglines of “Kuch meetha ho jaye” (something sweet) and “Shubh Aarambh” (auspicious beginnings), Oglivy was able to Indianize a western product. Cocoa, milk, butter, sugar was trying to replace the Indian desserts.. the meetha was not in vivid red cardboard box, but a purple wrapper with a golden foil inside (I find the covers of Temptations in muted greens and browns also beautiful).

And what occasion is more Indian than an Indian wedding? I wasn’t expecting to find this commercial online, since its from the 90’s, but I was pleasantly surprised and thankful that its on youtube. Even after 20years I still loved it. The model is Riva Babbar, a popular face on Indian Television. A girl in denim overall shorts with mehendi up to her elbows. It’s her wedding, or atleast that is my impression. She is alone in her room, a life of responsibilities, love and new beginnings awaits her, but for now a Dairy Milk bar tempts her. Not wanting to spoil her wet mehendi, she uses ingenuity and her teeth to get a taste of the melting sweetness of life. I imagine bustling chaos outside her room, but here in the familiar confines of her room, all alone, she has some sweet fun.

The second add is from the Diwali series. I sometimes marvel how easy it is for cadburys to make us remember frail old sincere postmen, strict teachers or scary lonely neighbors.  In all of 30secs with uplifting music and not sounding preachy in the slightest they make me want to do good things and share happiness and sprinkle a dash of sweetness into the lives I often disregard.

This advertisement has the boyishly charming Jugar Hansraj as the the terse boss. His secretary is clearly intimidated by him and in awe of him. While the world gets ready to sparkle and dazzle, the boss gives his secretary a hard time. He chides her for forgetting to complete her tasks and she dejectedly listens. Of course, in the drawer there is a celebration pack of assorted treats for her; as well as a Diwali wish. She can’t quite believe it and thanks him almost dazed. He sends her off home and gets back to work.  I love the ad..

Whether it’s the dark and exciting Bournville that apparently you have to earn the right to eat or its the succulent temptation of the Dairy Milk Silk each advertisement series has a story. Footcandles Films, Contract Advertising are names that showed up in the adds I looked up. So its not one person or company making these campaigns, but it does feel like one vision behind it.

There were a whole series of adds that showed a family. The mother in law making vegetables that no one wanted to eat, the daughter in law demanding proof of love from her husband, the grandchildren not wanting to share their sweet. It was an Indian family with subtle modern touches. In one such ad the mother in law is shown cooking, while the daughter in law sits with a laptop. A statement in itself, that hopefully infused into a few of the viewers along with the sweetness of the Cadbury.

This mix of young with the traditional is deftly caught in each of the campaigns. While randomly clicking on suggested videos in youtube I found two strangers, most probably engaged, bonding over the eccentricities of their families and the similarities between them. A friendship unfolding and a romance budding, all over one piece of Cadbury.


And while I carefully unwrap my bar of Dairy Milk, tell me about your favourite add.



Pic and video credits to various uploaders and Cadbury.

Don’t forget to check out the comments section for more  interesting tidbits by our resident writersbrew writer Indrani Robbins.



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  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    July 5, 2015 at 1:13 am

    ah rhea, that was fun to read. i am a cadbury’s fan. i still buy large bars of fruit and nut or dairy milk and try not to share with anyone. the indian cadbury’s and the uk one are my faves. i remember once when i was 24 i had a bet with jacob that i would eat only liquids and dry toast for three months and if i could he’d get me one each of all the different cadbury’s chocolates. i did, he did… uff me happy. lovely ads, thanks, i hadn’t seen the jugal hansraj one, a bit of boss romancing there? what’s the subtext… piyush pandey of o and m was key in the repositioning campaign of cdm, the dancing girl in the cricket field won every advertising award that year. i didn’t like the tvc but i loved the song or jingle, beautiful words. kuchh baat hai hum sabhi mein… the writer then connected it to the taste of life, the chocolate became that. while the commercials were pretty, i think two things really worked madly, one was the smart decision to take cdm to hindi, we were so ready to be cool even when not all angrezi and those words, the melody… they gave emotion and a holding depth… i know a well known writer wrote the lyrics, of course can’t find his name here… but will find out, now determined ha ha. also the jingle didn’t sound like a typical jingle, it had grace and style and a yearning and seemed like a song. this was just around the time india opened up, liberalisation, maybe that mood too found a voice here. this was the second ad in the series…

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    July 5, 2015 at 1:26 am

    okay, seems piyush pandey wrote it himself on the back of a boarding pass…

    yeah now i remember it was called “the real taste of life”, this campaign. why is it that my mind still says a well known song writer wrote the words… maybe it was a composer… and yes it was 1993… liberalisation. ads actually often reveal the era.

  • Reply
    rhea sinha
    July 6, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Indi di that story about you and Jacob is too sweet. 3 months on toast? pagal..

    By the way, I am updating my article to direct readers to your informative comment.

    The economic times article is very interesting. Great ideas have been noted down on paper napkins! I do remember that cricket field add, the song was lovely, but I feel these stories touch me more.

    Actually, I was quite surprised that such a lot of information was available on the makers of the ads. The Jugal Hansraj ad has detailed credits, but the lyricist and singer’s name is missing there. While writing this piece I sat and thought if there was romance in that add, but finally felt it was the boss simply appreciating his secretary’s hard work. Though it did feel like the opening of a story with possibilities.

    And the add at the very bottom.. when the girl asks.. in your family who is like me? The music dips, a female voice starts to hum, and the boy says ‘main’.. goosebumps moment for me. Was seeing it for the first time… You are right about the yearning and feel of a song. Works well.

    Thanks for enjoying the post.

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    July 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

    thank, rhea… i also did not like the first set of kuchh baat hai commercials… a distance from me, and really i am one of those old fashioned copywriters… an idea thrills me. i must sense that idea. just stories with a key high point and good film execution that will stick in the viewers’ mind is never my thing. an idea that attaches firmly to the brand and is original, compelling. that’s my high. before all this and cadbury’s deciding to change the image of cdm to rope in more consumers, the very talented suresh mullick of ogilvy had won the cadbury account for his company it seems in 1981 with the campaign i keep looking for and can’t find… his line, “sometimes, cadbury’s can say it better than words” won the account it’s said. i like that line a lot. he died when he was only sixty something, having nurtured some of the most successful creative heads today including piyush pandey who wrote the kuchh baat hai campaign. this gentleman was also responsible for the mile sur mera tumhara national integration campaign which actually started with him creating the first film in this series with athletes across the nation running with a torch and passing it on… then doordarshan requested him to make a film and mile tum came about. super interesting stories there. a little about the man in this film.

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