We harnessed the power of ground-breaking technology to give the neighbourhood stores of India their very own A-list ambassador.
2021 saw Indian economy fighting hard to revive. Big brands with big budgets were combating business downturn. Small traders, who contributed to 80%+ of Cadbury Celebration sales, didn’t have means to compete.
To secure business for Celebrations, we needed to get people to make their festive purchases from local stores.
Diwali is the most celebrated festival among Indians and is also a period of heightened consumer spending, making it an important event for almost all brands and businesses.
Diwali is especially crucial for Cadbury Celebrations, given that it accounts for more than 45% of its annual sales. Selling Cadbury Celebrations isn’t the same as selling other chocolate brands. Unlike impulse purchase categories, the gifting business opportunity has a limited window. It thrives on the seasonal demand for sweet gifting during festivals. Celebrations exists to gain the greatest share of this sweet gifting pie.
Consumer sentiment was at its lowest, due to a fall in household income, job and pay cuts which affected impulse buys the most. This resulted in chocolate category sales nosediving by almost 60% during each lockdown.
Since consumers were not indulging as much as before, local grocers focused on stocking essentials over chocolate, compromising our shelf presence and chances of being picked up.
Moreover, the lingering after-effects of a devastating second COVID wave meant moods were somber, and festivities would be muted.
Celebrations’ response to the impending crisis was:
Offline trade contributed 95% of Celebrations’ business and it was struggling. Efforts were undertaken to scale up ecommerce, but it alone could not cover for the huge numbers that were expected from offline sales.
To ensure Diwali 2021 was successful for Cadbury Celebrations, we not only needed to make chocolate a relevant gifting option, but also make sure the small traders stocked up on product, while uplifting mood during the festive season.
Cadbury Celebrations stands for generosity. It believes there is kindness in all of us that is just waiting to be nudged. To evoke generosity during the festive season, we realised we needed to be generous ourselves.
We decided to lend a helping hand to the small store owners, ensuring they too could compete with their bigger counterparts. By themselves, they would neither have the means nor have the knowledge and experience to launch media campaigns to drive footfalls.
We would need to advertise on their behalf. We had faced a similar situation in 2020 and, as a response, we launched Not Just a Cadbury Ad- a hyper-localised geo campaign where we shared our advertising real-estate to promote local stores. Through the use of AI, specific local stores in 2kms of the user’s vicinity were tagged in our ads on a real-time basis. Deployed in over 300 pincodes, the campaign was a roaring success and was applauded by all corners of society. There were some learnings that emerged from last year’s execution:
We needed to give the store owners something they could never achieve by themselves: while the traders appreciated our previous effort, we had to go beyond text-based creative optimisation to give them an asset which seemed it was made specifically for their store .
Cover as many stores as possible, and more: for every store included in our initial campaign, there were hundreds of other stores that could not be featured. To overcome this, we had to cover more pincodes. But that still wouldn’t have been enough.
We had to create a mechanism that could be used by individuals to make their own version of the ads.
Introducing: ‘Shah Rukh Khan My Ad’ – a hyper-local personalised ad featuring Bollywood Superstar- Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) promoting local retailers and urging people to remember them while making their festive purchases this Diwali.
We resorted to the power of tech, dynamic creative optimisation and AI to localise the campaign to 500+ pincodes with 2,500+ local business owners. Working with our tech partners, Rephrase.ai and DeltaX, we used machine learning to recreate SRK’s face and voice to take local store names in the ad. Every time a Celebrations ad was served, the user would see and hear SRK encourage purchases from specific stores that were in close vicinity of the user.
The campaign was launched across Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. Each ad served was customised to feature SRK promoting specific local shops from five categories covering grocery, clothing, footwear, eyewear and electronics.
We were aware that we would never be able to cover all stores, so we created a microsite – NotJustACadburyAd.com – where users could create their own version of the ad, either for their own business, or for someone they knew. These ads were made available to download and share within individuals’ WhatsApp groups and social media feeds. Traders felt extremely proud that the biggest brand ambassador in India was now a brand ambassador for their own store – something they could have only dreamt of.