Online pressure shows passion for chocolate – or smart PR

The Guardian is among the media today reporting that online pressure has led Cadbury’s to reintroduce the Wispa bubbly chocolate bar.  It cites the 93 Bring Back Wispa groups on Facebook with approaching 14,000 members and videos of adverts from the 1980s on YouTube, as particularly influential.   

Cadbury’s spokesman, Tony Bilsborough, is quoted as saying:

“We had noticed the web interest for some time. It reveals a consumer passion which swayed our opinion about relaunching Wispa.”

Reading this contrived quote, my PR cynicism kicked in regarding the story.  Then I discovered a on the Borkowski site – so there is clearly some strong professional public relations support behind Cadbury’s U-turn.

I’m not suggesting the campaign wasn’t authentic – as there have been online grumbles since the company discontinued the bar in August 2003.

Cadbury’s had genuinely shelved Wispa for four years, unlike the campaign by Heinz a few years ago where it simply threatened to withdraw its failing salad cream brand.  The “Save our Salad Cream” gained lots of media attention and support – leading to the company “agreeing” to keep it on the shelves (with a price hike and sponsorship of the Emmerdale soap).  Heinz repeated the strategy in 2003 to get publicity for its baked beans brand with a campaign to save the Beanz Meanz Heinz slogan.

I reckon in the case of Wispa, some astute research by Borkowski – and probably a little PR feeding of the online and offline interest – has resulted in the high profile story today.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

3 thoughts on “Online pressure shows passion for chocolate – or smart PR”

  1. I agree James in the case of Wispa, this seems a good example of responding positively to online customer demand. I was interested to see the hand of Borkowski behind it – which implies the company’s own market research possibly hadn’t picked up on the campaign.

    In the case of Heinz, such campaigns increase public cynicism though – especially when it is repeated as a ploy. You can’t keep crying wolf…

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