Cadbury's new campaign is a bit bleak, but promises to go places

The new Cadbury spot isn't pitch perfect, but it establishes a platform that can run and run, writes one of the brains behind the brand's most acclaimed campaign.

There will be haters. I’m sitting with a couple of them. And as someone who helped the brand in question chart a very different path with "Gorilla" a decade or so ago, I should probably be one of them myself.  

It’s an inconvenient truth, then, that both the strategist and the real person in me are in violent agreement: the new Cadbury spot is, at the very least, the start of something interesting. An execution that will divide opinion, for sure, but that rarest of things also: a genuine campaign idea.

Yes, it’s a commercial that tugs at the heartstrings a little too eagerly, as much modern advertising is minded to do (and we all know who to blame for that).

Yes, it has a certain bleakness compared to most advertising fare. "I, Daniel Flake", anyone? And yes, students of Cadbury advertising history might find something similar in the annals. But…

First up, it has all been nicely turned by Mr Planchon: simply told and well cast, it’s one of the few "slice of life" commercials that falls – for me – just the right side of cliché.  

Secondly, that whiff of bleakness might just reflect adland’s maddening failure to touch a raw or just a real nerve these days, typically seeking creative solace instead in the overblown and fantastical – McDonald’s being a rare masterclass in that respect.

Finally, and here the strategist kicks in: brands like Cadbury deserve and demand long-running campaigns (most brands should, but that’s another column).

And in my humble estimation, "There’s a glass and a half in everyone" is just that.  

It nods to a long-forgotten product fact and its more material emotional cousin just like "Glass And A Half Full Productions" did, this time framing generosity as a quality in its customers, not just the company. So far, so good.  More importantly, it looks creatively fertile to me.

I’ll grant that it’s a sizeable oversteer from more recent Cadbury work, the increasingly frenetic jazz hands of joy. That it does "everyday" better than it does "magic", when the brand needs to do both. That it says "generosity" rather than does it. For me, though, those are executional dials that are easily turned as the campaign evolves.

Rather than indulge in professional schadenfreude, then, I’m minded to applaud both a delicate launch execution and a campaign work in progress.

Small advertising is often harder to pull off than big, and "real" likewise, but here’s proof that you don’t have to re-boot He-Man and Skeletor or even Philip Schofield to cut through.  

A point of view, I’m aware, that supports the campaign premise also: there really is a glass and a half in everyone.

Laurence Green is executive partner at MullenLowe London. He was chairman and founding partner at Fallon when the agency created Cadbury's "Gorilla" in 2007.

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