Cadbury’s Colin O’Toole on recent Premier League clubs partnerships, brand purpose and inclusiveness

Mondelēz International-owned chocolate brand Cadbury has recently partnered with six of the top Premier League clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC. The Playknox spoke with Colin O’Toole, the associate director of marketing of Cadbury about the strategy behind the partnerships, how Cadbury is ensuring diversity within the work place, Covid-19 challenges among other things. Excerpts:


What has been the impact of Covid-19 on Mondelez’s business? How are you overcoming the challenges?

Like all businesses, Mondelez has also been impacted by Covid-19. The business’ main priority continues to be colleagues’ health and wellbeing. As a beloved and trusted brand, Cadbury continues to perform well and we’re investing in the brand and its partnerships to ensure it remains the nations’ favourite chocolate.”

The biggest impact has been in the impulse trade, the corner shop and lunchtime deals where everything shutdown more or less overnight. We are lucky to have different formats of products within the Cadbury portfolio to cater for different occasions and needs, for example multipacks and share bags are an attractive option for those working from home as they can be kept over a longer period.


Tell us about Cadbury’s recent partnerships with Chelsea FC and Manchester United. Both the partnerships seems to have a tremendous social impact. Is that something Cadbury is consciously doing?

Our belief is that there is a ‘Glass and a Half’ of generosity in everyone, and our role is to help people see that. When you partner with a club, you also partner with the fans too – they make the club live and breathe outside the stadium. The clubs have such huge reach to be able to tell our story and to nudge people to show that side of themselves more. Asking Manchester United fans to ‘Donate Your Words’ to older neighbours or family members has helped disconnected people feel more part of their community.

We know 225,000 older people often go a whole week without speaking to a single other person and wanted to play our part in helping change that. With Chelsea, we wanted to help give their entrepreneurial fans confidence to rebuild their businesses and create optimism about the future of their ventures. We will leverage some world class Mondelez talents to run seminars to help small businesses push through their current difficulties and look ahead. It all ties back to helping the people who help us every day by buying Cadbury.

Cadbury also partnered Arsenal FC and as part of the partnership, will also be offering Arsenal fans unique access to their club through promotions such as Cadbury’s Match and Win, which includes prizes such as hospitality experiences, match tickets and vouchers redeemable in The Armoury club ship and Arsenal’s online store.

The sponsorship will initially focus on support for a popular matchday destination, the Little Wonder Café, located opposite Emirates Stadium, which was forced to close temporarily during lockdown. Cadbury has bought 500 Little Wonder meal vouchers that will be donated to Arsenal in the Community to reward people for their work during lockdown. Cadbury will also donate digital sponsorship assets from the partnership to the Little Wonder Café next season, which will include promotion in email newsletters, digital advertising and advertising in matchday programmes.



What is your digital strategy to engage your consumers. 

With such a broad portfolio, we tend not to be too specific – ‘target the market, not a target market’. Nine out of ten households in the UK buy Cadbury during the year, so we need to reach more people. Having said that, the risk of trying to please everyone is huge so we focus on storytelling that appeals across demographics and social structures. We start with the right story that has our products at the heart, and layer simple everyday stories about how people connect through generous acts, even if that is as simple as buying a Cadbury Dairy Milk for your mum because it’s her birthday or throwing one over a fence to the neighbour who always throws back your football.

Tell us about Cadbury’s branding and marketing strategy. Also, Amidst Covid-19, why do you think it is essential for brands to market themselves?

It is always essential for brands to be out there refreshing what people know about them and trying to reach more people. Covid has probably forced brands to speak less about product and more about brand beliefs or ‘purpose’, which is a good thing. Some brands are doing this for the first time and learning quickly the importance of distinguishing themselves from other brands and how critical tone is. On the other hand, we have seen other brands produce some of their best work. This all builds the consumers’ perception of the brand and will influence their next decision when thinking about buying in the category.

Globally the conversation is ongoing about inclusion and diversity. How does Cadbury ensure the same? What can be done to bridge the present gap in the industry?

Diversity and inclusion is important to us and always has been. As part of Mondelēz International, Cadbury stands in solidarity with our Black employees, suppliers and fans and is guided by one of our company’s core values of ‘Doing What’s Right’. We have spent this time listening and learning and steps are already being taken to improve diversity and inclusiveness across the business, through employee training on issues such as unconscious bias, as well as revising a range of internal policies and initiatives.


We understand that there is a long road ahead; however, we are committed to driving long lasting, impactful change. Mondelēz is also one of the founding members of Diversity & Inclusion within Grocery, and together with our partners, we are working on how we can tackle a lack of diversity in the industry. We are committed to supporting, elevating and amplifying diverse voices throughout our business and beyond.

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