Cadbury and the Joy of Content – The story of Glass and a Half Full Productions

By 2007 Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) was running out of steam; facing flatlining sales, losing relevance to younger generations and with an advertising model that felt tired. The solution was to create Glass and a Half Full Productions, a content-led campaign including ‘Gorilla’, ‘Eyebrows’ and ‘Trucks’. The new direction moved CDM from being a manufacturer of chocolate to a producer of joy. It also created a debate around whether creating ‘joyful’ content rather than ‘persuasive’ advertising featuring chocolate actually works or not. The whole campaign delivered a master brand payback 171% greater than previous campaigns, with ‘Gorilla’ alone delivering an incremental revenue return of £4.88 for every £1 spent.

This case is a great example of an incredibly powerful and effective campaign in the face of a tricky market that is seasonal and unhealthy. Cadbury successfully cut through media criticism with brave but fantastic creative work that captured the public’s imagination.

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Gorilla (2007)

In 2007, Cadbury launched a new advertising campaign entitled Gorilla, from a new in-house production company called “Glass And A Half Full Productions”. The advert was premièred during the season finale of Big Brother 2007, and consists of a gorilla at a drum kit, drumming along to the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight”. The creative idea for the campaign is founded upon the notion that all communications should be as effortlessly enjoyable as eating the bar itself. For ‘Glass and a Half Full Productions’ is a production house that exists solely to create content that makes you feel as if you’ve just eaten a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. A production house that makes things that make you smile. The advert has now become extremely popular with over five million views on YouTube, and put the Phil Collins hit back into the UK charts.

“I don’t know what this has to do with Cadbury Dairy Milk, but it’s funny. Among gorilla drummers, it seems the work of Phil Collins inspires a genuine cosmic connection” Tim Nudd, ADWEEK, August 31 2007

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Richard Flintham/Juan Cabral
Director: Juan Cabral
Production Company: Blink
Producer: Matthew Fone
DoP: Dan Bronks
Editor: Joe Guest at Final Cut

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Trucks (2008)

On 28 March 2008, the second Dairy Milk advert produced by Glass and a Half Full Productions aired. The ad, entitled ‘Trucks’ features several trucks at night on an empty runway at a airport racing to the tune of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

Like  “Gorilla”, Trucks is based on an offbeat concept set to a 1970s/80s rock soundtrack. It features a midnight drag race down an airport runway, using a range of vehicles including baggage transporters and motorised stairs. Trucks again highlights the skill of director Juan Cabral. It is beautifully choreographed and lit, with glossy production values and an energy that perfectly matches the music. It has a Top-Gear-meets-Wacky-Races appeal that will stand up to repeated viewings. It makes you wonder whether this is what’s going on behind the scenes at Terminal 5 – the baggage handling certainly leaves something to be desired.

According to Fallon, it took three weeks to “pimp” the trucks, the heaviest of which, the blue truck, weighed in at 25 tons. Shots of a tiny “underdog” battling against the giant provide human interest. The six-night shoot at an airport in Mexico involved 140 crew, two 35mm film cameras, two high-definition cameras and one crash-cam.

“We could have created Gorilla 2 and had him playing a trumpet,” the Cadbury marketing director, Philip Rumbol, told last Monday’s MediaGuardian section. “But that would have been too linear. It has to have a slightly enigmatic quality.”

“Trucks” therefore has a lot to live up to. It has a quirky charm, but is unlikely to change perceptions of the brand in the same way that its predecessor did. Gorilla became the ad phenomenon of last year – it was voted the public’s favourite TV ad of last year and won TV commercial of the year at the British Television Advertising Awards. It has also been credited with turning Cadbury’s fortunes around, helping the chocolate maker reverse the damage done by a 2006 salmonella scare and boost its UK market share last year. The Cadbury chief executive, Todd Stitzer, hailed 2007 as “the year of the gorilla”.

Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now was reportedly chosen for “Trucks” from a final shortlist consisting of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and Europe’s The Final Countdown. Picking the follow-up to a major hit is a notoriously tricky business. Whether Cadbury has got it right this time is open to debate, but at least it avoided the obvious “Gorilla 2″ route.

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Juan Cabral
Director: Juan Cabral
Production Company: Blink
Producer: Matthew Fone
DoP: Dan Bronks
Editor: Joe Guest at Final Cut

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Gorilla & Trucks – Official Remix (2008)


On 5 September 2008, the Gorilla advert was relaunched with a new soundtrack – Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart – a reference to online mash-up of the commercial. Similarly, a version of the Truck advert appeared, using Bon Jovi’s song Livin’ on a Prayer. Both remakes premiered once again during the finale of Big Brother 2008.

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Eyebrows (2009)

In January 2009, ‘Eyebrows’, the third advert in the series, was released, of two children moving their eyebrows up and down rapidly to a set electro-funk beat: “Don’t Stop the Rock” by Freestyle.

The idea: Taking that moment of joy when you seize the opportunity to get away with your own little stunt, like making a funny face as your family portrait is being taken.The ad, by agency Fallon, opens with a brother and sister – wearing a dress in the trademark Cadbury purple – sitting for what appears to be a standard school photograph session. However, when the photographer leaves the shot the boy starts an electro tune, Don’t Stop the Rock by Freestyle, on his watch.

“Over at Glass and a Half Full Productions we noticed the wriggly potential of eyebrows and thought we would have a bit of fun with them,” said the Cadbury marketing director, Phil Rumbol. “Like the other productions ‘Eyebrows’ is all about losing yourself and embracing that moment of joy … after all, everybody remembers pulling a silly face or getting up to no good as a child when backs were turned.”

The one-minute film for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate is thought to have been viewed more than four million times on YouTube and similar sites in its first three weeks. It is twice the number of viewings racked up at the same stage by the firm’s previous cult clip, in which a gorilla plays drums to Phil Collins’s In the Air Tonight. The eyebrows advert was first shown during the final of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4 and is still shown on television but its online success has been boosted by various links including one from the blog of American rapper and producer Kanye West and another from celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Cadbury’s has since struck a deal with Orange to give away the soundtrack as a mobile phone ringtone, which was downloaded 125,000 times in the first 11 days.

Lee Rolston, director of marketing for Cadbury Dairy Milk, told The Observer: “Television and online are morphing almost daily. We tend to put our first ads in big things such as the Big Brother final or the X Factor, then it’s immediately online, which becomes a very fluid, organic process. People tend to interact with the films and make their own versions and their own music. We just let it go and see what people think of it.”

Chris Hassell, director of Ralph, digital design agency specialising in viral advertising, said: “I saw it online first, which is the way it works now. When someone says ‘Did you see that ad?’, the first thing you do is look it up on YouTube.”

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Richard Flintham, Chris Bovill, John Allison
Director: Tom Kuntz
Production Company: MZJ

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Dogs in Cars (2009)

Cadbury has launched the fourth A Glass and a Half Full Productions commercial, “Dogs”, featuring the music of the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II. Dogs take turns riding in a purple Lamborghini Diablo on the Oran Park Raceway in Sydney, letting the air blow past them as they hang out the window. A Glass and A Half Full of Joy!

The fourth commercial in the Cadbury series, airing internationally, conceived by Fallon London and produced in Australia by sister Publicis shop Saatchi & Saatchi, Sydney. This spot is designed to make people smile by showing the joy when different breeds of dog enjoy the air rushing by when their heads are sticking out of an iconic Lamborghini Diablo as it races around Sydney’s Oran Park Raceway. (This spot was originally shot and aired in the UK, but because the sky was grey, the decision was made to re-shoot in OZ on a bright sunny day).

Advertising Agency: Fallon London/Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney
Creative Director: Steve Back
Production Company: Caravan @ The Feds
Director: Ben Lawrence

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Freida (2010)

In 2010 Cadbury has launched A Glass and a Half Full of Smoothness in New Zealand with tap dancing cows, doing the moves to Fred Astaire’s song, “Putting on the Ritz”. The ad screened for the first time this week during the first ad break of Desperate Housewives. The spot opens with a close up of a black and white cow’s face before heading into the slick little number. The ad finishes with the cow pushing aside mirrors and opening a purple curtain to finish with an ensemble act.. This is the first Cadbury spot in the series not conceived by Fallon, London.

The team took universally recognised ‘smooth character’, Fred Astaire, and gave his iconic dance routine the unique Cadbury touch to create another joy-filled Cadbury moment. One of the creatives told Campaign Brief: “Psyop (who did Coke Happiness Factory) are amazing to work with. We filmed two two dancers tied together to be the front and the back of the cow, then a real cow and matched all the movements in CG. It took 4 months!”
Advertising Agency: Tribal DDB, New Zealand

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Chocolate Charmer (2010)

In April 2010, a new advert aired, entitled Chocolate Charmer, containing a scientist mixing milk and chocolate to make a dairy milk bar to the tune of “The Only One I Know” by The Charlatans. This was subtly different to the others as it did not feature the ‘A Glass and a Half Full Production’ title card at the start. The 60-second TV spot takes viewers into the “magical” world of Cadbury Dairy Milk production where the chocolate charmer creates bars of milk chocolate. As the ad unfolds, the Charmer “conducts” towers of chocolate milk out of spinning glass bowls, orchestrated by levers and pulleys and his “magical powers” with chocolate.

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Richard Flintham, Nils-Petter Lovgren, Filip Tyden, Dan Watt
Director: Henrik Hallgren
Production Company: The Moving Picture Company

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Ostrich (2010)

The spot continues Cadbury’s ‘Glass and a Half Full Productions’ concept, which began with Fallon’s Dairy Milk TV ad ‘Gorilla’ in the UK in 2007.

The TVC was created by Saatchi & Saatchi Johannesburg. Their Executive Creative Director, Adam Wittert, says, “The brief was to make people feel the same joy they experience when they eat Cadbury Dairy Milk, so we came up with the idea of an ostrich and an ostrich, being a bird, would find the ultimate joy in flying. So our ostrich goes sky diving.”

The ad begins with an ostrich walking purposefully through a stack of wooden crates. It then becomes apparent that he is in the cargo hold of an airplane; the cargo door gradually opens and the ostrich takes a leap into the air like a sky diver, with the song “I gotta be me” by Sammy Davis Jr coming to a crescendo. The ostrich gleefully flies through the sky into the sunset, before pulling the ripchord to his Cadbury-branded parachute at the last minute, with the strapline ‘A glass and a half full of joy’ appearing beneath.

Saatchi & Saatchi Johannesburg managing director, Grant Meldrum, said that the Johannesburg office worked closely with Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon in the UK: “This ensured that we produced a TV commercial that would have global appeal and, at the same time, underpinned the possibilities of achieving pure joy and remained true to the brand’s proposition.”

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Johannesburg
Creative: Adam Wittert, Keisha Meyerson, Bruce Murphy
Director: Peter Truckel
Production Company: Catapult Commercials

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Dancing Clothes (2011)

In April 2011, a new advert aired, known as ‘Charity Shop’ or ‘Dancing Clothes’, featuring dancing clothes at a charity shop to the tune of  We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off  by Jermaine Stewart. This exposed the song to a new generation who downloaded the track and returned the song to the UK Top 40 so far reaching no. 29. This ad also marks the return of the Glass and a Half Full title card.

The ad, created by Fallon, features dancing clothes in an initially lifeless charity shop. Individual clothes fall from the rails, rise from the floor and burst from cupboards, and the charity shop is transformed into a dancing extravaganza. Julie Reynolds, marketing manager for Cadbury Dairy Milk, said: “For us Cadbury Dairy Milk is about creating moments of joy that make people smile. We believe this production is another great way of doing just that.”

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Augusto Sola, Sam Hibbard
Director: Megaforce
Production Company: Riff Raff Films

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Monks (2011)

Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate has a long heritage of giving joy. In this experience we highlight how people in a strict and disciplined environment break out and let loose when Cadbury’s drops in. It’s the equivalent of the drill sergeant cutting the troop a break, or a strict boarding school nun letting the bunking girls off. When our stern teacher is given the opportunity to teach his pupils a lesson, he shows them how to let loose. Pretty soon the whole class is laughing, dancing and thoroughly enjoying themselves as much as the people witnessing this moment of joy.

Filmed entirely on location in rural China, the commercial captures a surreal moment of pure joy in a Buddhist monastery. A temple gathering takes a new turn with the addition of purple helium-filled balloons, with the monks released to groove to the sounds of Flo Rida track “Low”, starting with the chorus line, “apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur”.

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Creative: Augusto Sola, Sam Hibbard
Director: Megaforce
Production Company: Riff Raff Films

About these ads

One Comment on “Cadbury and the Joy of Content – The story of Glass and a Half Full Productions”

  1. Cadbury THEN – Cadbury NOW | Maties Marketing244 says:

    […] In an effort to build a more appealing and meaningful brand, Cadbury started the “a Glass and a half full Productions” advertising campaign. In 2007 they kicked off with the premiere of the very popular “Gorilla” advertisement, followed by even more successful advertisements in this series like “Eyebrows” in 2009 and “Monks” in 2011. [3] […]


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