Nigella returns to promote Whittaker’s new artisan range

Whittaker’s has released four TVCs via Assignment Group to advertise its new artisan chocolate, which sees Nigella Lawson reprising her role as domestic goddess.

The new chocolate varieties quietly hit the shelves on 18 May with a range of new flavours including: ‘Hawke’s Bay Braeburn Apple with Vanilla in white chocolate’, ‘Marlborough Sea Salt and Caramel Brittle in milk chocolate’, ‘Nelson Pear and Manuka Honey in milk chocolate’, ‘Waikato Grown Aromatic Oolong Tea in dark chocolate’, ‘Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice in dark chocolate’ and ‘Single Origin Samoan Cacao in extra dark chocolate’.

Assignment Group’s work for the campaign includes one 30-second TVC and three 16-second TVCs. Nigella acts as her usual self with her sultry take on food presenting as she introduces a few of the different flavour combinations and flatters New Zealand, referring to it as a “garden of Eden” which we’re sure fellow Kiwis will lap up.

Some cool graphic techniques are used too as the TVCs visually show a flavour explosion when Lawson presents two ingredients in each hand and brings them together causing them to appear to burst out of the screen towards the viewer.

Last year Nigella Lawson ventured to Wellington and shut off part of the train station to film a new ad for Whittaker’s. The result of that filming was a taste test that aimed to get punters to switch to its five-roll refined variety which was released across Australasia. 

Unfortunately the videos have since been removed from the online world so we cannot share them here.

Whittaker’s signed Lawson up as its mascot back in 2012 when she was still the high priestess of euphemistic domesticity. That reputation changed markedly after the domestic abuse saga and the ensuing divorce proceedings that revealed she had used substances slightly more illicit than a rich block of Whittaker’s chocolate. But Whittaker’s and its agency Assignment Group have stuck by their woman.

In 2012 Lawson promoted Whittaker’s five roll refined Creamy Milk Chocolate by giving the Swiss a bit of a hurry up. The ad was shot in London by Peter Burger of Capital City Films and was geo-restricted to New Zealand audiences on YouTube.

The Nigella Lawson ads are part of Whittaker’s attempt to become a world-class brand, according to The New Zealand Listener “…but she agreed to endorse the milk chocolate only after tasting to ensure it met her standards.”

In 2013, The Listener reported that Whittaker’s was on its way to leading the chocolate market holding 38 percent of chocolate tablet sales, while Cadbury’s market share was shrinking. 

Whittaker’s has certainly profited from the PR troubles of its main rival Cadbury’s (the palm oil saga and the yo-yoing size of it’s chocolate bars), with its market share jumping from 22 percent to 32 percent in the space of a year during ‘The Troubles’ of 2009. Its retail sales in supermarkets and petrol stations rose more than 60 percent from $17 million to $27.6 million between 2009-2010.

Tim Morris, director of research consultancy Coriolis and a food industry specialist told The Listener Whittaker’s has the potential to eventually grow to become a $1 billion company.

However, University of Auckland marketing lecturer Tom Agee said he wasn’t so sure the Whittaker’s story would translate well to foreign markets “You’ve got the competition of major brands such as Nestlé and Cadbury, that are so well known, and a few others.”

According to a Coriolis report commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on the processed food sector, total turnover of Whittaker’s was an estimated $80-100 million in 2012. Whittaker’s said the figures are not correct, although it did not provide any of its own.

Whittaker’s has also been named New Zealand’s most trusted brand for the third year in a row, according to Stuff.

In the survey commissioned by New Zealand Reader’s Digest, Whittaker’s took out the top spot in trust as well as winning the confectionary and New Zealand icons categories.

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