Behind every great campaign there’s usually a very clever client. One of the most remarkable ads of recent years was Cadbury ‘Gorilla’ by Fallon London. With no dialogue, no product shot and minimal branding, it was a brave call for the FMCG giant, but it was credited with rekindling love for the brand and driving a five percent sales rise. We wondered how the idea came about, and how it lived to make it to air. So we tracked down the man behind the campaign, Phil Rumbol, former marketing director of Cadbury UK, and now founding partner of creative agency 101 London.
What were you trying to achieve with the gorilla campaign?
The brand was no longer the clear ‘nation’s favourite’. There was latent affection rather than advocacy, plus the brand was recovering from a major product recall. We were therefore looking to rekindle the love for the brand and recruit a new generation of Cadbury lovers. And, like the old adage ‘don’t tell people you’re funny, tell them a joke’, the brief was to remind people that eating Cadbuy chocolate makes you feel good by making the ad as enjoyable to consume as the chocolate itself.
What was the process like? Did you go through many different creative ideas before settling on Gorilla?
Numerous ideas were presented by a different agency, but this idea was presented in the first meeting from a new agency.
What was your first reaction when the idea was presented to you?
My first reaction was one of genuine excitement, even if I didn’t really know why. I just felt ‘we’ve got to do this.’
Was any concept testing involved? What’s your opinion of pre-testing?
I’m not a great fan of quant pre-testing, especially using animatics. And especially for more emotionally-based films. Done badly, I feel it forces logical consideration onto respondents in a way that does not reflect how they ‘consume’ advertising in the real world. Because of senior stakeholder reservations about this idea, we tested the finished film using three different quant pre-test methodologies. Needless to say it it got a ‘red light’ from the leading pre-test methodology.
Were you ever tempted to insert a product shot?
I wasn’t, but at the eleventh hour, senior stakeholders wanted to put a swirly chocolate shot in. But I resisted vehemently as I felt strongly it was important to unconditionally ‘give’ viewers a moment of joy – without attaching an overt sales message. This is part of what made it feel fresh and feel joyful, rather than telling people it was joyful.
What advice would you give to marketers around the world when they are judging creative ideas?
I used to say to my team ‘listen to the song before you read the lyrics.’ In other words, ask yourselves whether people will be genuinely engaged before considering the checklist of things the ad needs to say and do. Too many ads say the right thing but invite the fast forward button because they are too dull.
You stuck your neck out to go for something great, not just good. How can marketers convince large companies to support decisions like this?
By sticking to your guns for things you believe in. It’s always easier for people to say ‘no’ to something because it’s different. It’s also important to educate stakeholders about how consumers really react to advertising using neuroscience and the more enlightened theories on human behaviour.