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Revamp Your Brand's Advertising Style?

Success story
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How Do You Revamp Your Brand's Advertising Style?
by Joanna Marlow


The ominous intro to Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the air tonight” sets in, while we see the wry face of a gorilla. Anticipation in his eyes, he takes a few deep breaths.

As the camera zooms out, we see him sitting in a recording studio as he starts playing the drum solo with incomparable devotion. The brief provided to the team who created this ad in 2007: “Eating Cadbury’s chocolate makes you feel good”.

The surreal randomness of a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins struck a chord with people across the nation. Since the first broadcast of this UK ad during the final episode of Big Brother’s 8th season, it went viral, hitting millions of views on Youtube while spawning countless parodies and remakes.

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As you can imagine, the team at Cadbury was less convinced it would be a success when Argentinian director Juan Cabral showed them his idea. Apart from marketing director Phil Rumbol -who loved it- everyone thought he had gone mad. 

There was no clear message or any reference to Cadbury chocolate. Plus, at 90 seconds running three times longer than ads usually do. And… well, there is a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins…

Cabral sensed that their target audience was ready for something different than the serious, conventional type of ads people expected from Cadbury. The team had to admit that their brand was in need of a little revamping, but they were also very protective of the brand’s image.

Winning countless advertising prizes later, the team was thankful that Rumbol was able to convince them that the gorilla ad would rekindle the love for Cadbury. 

From a commercial perspective, the ad was a success as well. Sales had increased by 10%, which is three times the usual return on investment. However, producing the ad was an equally challenging feat.

How does one make the right creative balance between making the ad an obvious joke, and becoming too cheesy? For one, the gorilla had to look very real.

Cabral explored multiple options, considering the then limited possibilities of CGI techniques, various animatronic puppets, and strikingly realistic-looking gorilla suits. Finally, he found one that was previously used for the 1995 movie ‘Congo’.

Cadbury Gorilla title=

The next step was to find someone able to deliver the required zeal while wearing the suit, while not being able to see. Preferably someone who also plays drums.

This mission impossible brought Cabral to actor Garon Michael, who had experience with costume work. He ‘only’ needed to learn the drum solo.

Filming and editing took as long as a month. However, when Cabral eventually presented the end result, he was again met with resistance.

“You will never show this ad” he was told. It took him 4 long months to persuade his team to step away from the usual generic, predictable concept most chocolate commercials all seemed to be based on. 

Sometimes you really need to think outside the box to cut through the noise. And Cadbury certainly did so by taking a road less traveled with a slightly crazy idea.

The moral of the story? An important factor for successful marketing campaigns is originality. And sometimes the most bizarre ad campaigns yield amazing results.

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