What do chocolate and bicycles have in common?

11 Jun

Cadburys africa bikeIf you’ve conceded to the impulse shelves and bought a chocolate bar in the past month or so you may have already come across this initiative.

Cadbury’s latest campaign – The bicycle factory – offers and interesting blueprint for companies that source globally and sell locally to engage consumers, earn PR, drive product sales, and support the developing communities that produce inputs (cocoa) for their products.

We’ve seen hundreds of corporate donation programs like this, but
there are a few things done differently that seem to make this project stickier than those of the past:

1) Cadbury provided sweat, not just equity. They partnered with Kona and the UN’s Development Programme to provide a valuable donation/product – not simply a gesture. This makes their efforts feel more authentic, as consumers see that thought was put towards the end value created, not just the short term focus of more sales + positive PR.

2) Instant gratification. Though the website surely cost a pretty penny (and could have probably just paid for the bikes itself), having the ability to see others taking the time to enter UPC’s and then see the part that you contributed somehow makes the initiative more tangible. This also seems to have a better emotional payoff than a “thank you for your contribution” message.

3) Education + insight + involvement. The campaign makes us look at a bike in a different light when we learn what it can do in another environment. Chocolate and candy are guilty pleasures and many people have to justify it to themselves.  The campaign flips around justifying the indulgence and makes you justify not purchasing the product, like not donating to a cause. I actually went and bought some candy just for the UPC code! (though the sugar fix didn’t hurt).

It seems that authenticity is the big nut to crack for corporations looking to give back, while still showing shareholders their efforts tie back to their bottom line.

So does this campaign feel authentic to you? Or do you get the feeling it’s just another ad tactic to stimulate sales on discretionary items? For those working in the developing world does this feel like a drop in the bucket or value creation?

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