VCCP cleverly leans into nostalgia with ad for Cadbury's 200th birthday

How do you celebrate a brand's bicentennial without giving off old-man vibes? VCCP's ad for Cadbury's shows how to do it right.

When a brand approaches a major anniversary, you're in somewhat of a dilemma. On the other hand, you want to shout about the tremendous achievement of holding a leading position in the market for decades. On the other hand, you don't want to come across as ageing and past it.

I experienced this dilemma myself when I used to work on print magazines. The publisher was always keen to make a big splash on the occasion of a 100th issue or a 10th anniversary and fill the mag with "best of" articles going back through its history. But I always worried that would remind people how long they'd been buying the mag, how many unread issues they had piled up in the corner, and how they'd been meaning to check out that sexy new publication their friends had been raving about instead.

If you're ever in the position of having to square this particular circle, you should check out the 60-second ad VCCP has just released to celebrate Cadbury's 200th Anniversary, as part of a fully integrated campaign titled Yours for 200 Years because it plays on our love for nostalgia but in a clever way that also feels cutting edge and modern.

Reimagined ad

The film retells the Mum's Birthday ad, which was released in 2018 and launched the Glass and a Half platform. It's the one where a little girl with big eyes tries to buy her mum some chocolate for her birthday but only has a few coins and some plastic buttons. Thankfully, the kind shopkeeper takes pity on her, Mum gets her Dairy Milk, and everyone lives happily ever after.

It's quite reminiscent of the original Willy Wonka film and proper heartstrings stuff. Yes, you know they're manipulating your emotions, but you don't mind one bit.

This new version takes the original ad and re-engineers the scene as if the characters travelled through 200 years of history. It's not a particularly original idea, but what's different is the subtle way the setting changes around the girl and shopkeeper as time advances and technology and fashions change.

Similar ads in the past have generally hit you over the head with the incongruity of these changes to make it obvious what's going on. Here, though, the ad trusts the audience's intelligence to work it out for themselves, and as a result, it is quietly magical.

To create it, VCCP’s global content creation studio Girl&Bear worked with award-winning director Frederic Planchon, who directed the original Mum’s Birthday commercial, and Academy Films.

Most of the original cast was reunited for the new film, with body doubles and post-production techniques used to recreate the scene between the shopkeeper and the girl, who was now five years older than when the first ad was released. The result is a nuanced reboot of a classic advert which celebrates small, shared moments of generosity. Post production was managed by Selected Works.

Packaging and OOH

The campaign also features a limited-edition range of seven Dairy Milk bars featuring classic designs crafted in collaboration with Cadbury’s own branding agency, Bulletproof . These were created in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland, acknowledging the link between nostalgic packaging designs and memory.

Thirdly, a range of bespoke nostalgic OOH (out of home) ads has been designed by illustrators to celebrate Dairy Milk’s famous branding and iconic design. Each execution is illustrated in the style of a different era and packaging to create a suite of retro posters.

Chris Birch, executive creative director at VCCP London, said: “Crikey. 200 years old. That only happens when you have the relationship with the British public that Cadbury has. This work celebrates every Christmas morning Selection Box, every school trouser pocket Curly Wurly, every drippy Flake 99, every Dairy Milk on the sofa and everyone in Britain who’s gleefully munched them down since 1824. Happy Birthday, Cadbury.”

The campaign is running throughout the UK across audio, social, print and digital and is supported by owned-channel activity by Elvis and a PR campaign by Ogilvy.


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