Celebrations scores PR hit with outrage over Bounty bars – that aren’t being removed | Marketing & PR | The Guardian

Last updated on: Published by: Contributor/Source 0

“This calls for a mutiny,” Richard Osman tweeted to his 1.2 million followers. “WHAT?! This is a diabolical decision,” wrote Piers Morgan (8 million). “I am not amused … I draw the line,” Lorraine Kelly told the million-plus viewers of her morning show.

Broadcaster Dan Walker ran a poll. Comedian Mark Watson debated the correct grammatical plural form. And on Twitter, the memes mulitplied and debate raged.

Which is an awful lot of fuss about a chocolate bar. News – or rather, a press release – that Mars Wrigley, manufacturers of the Celebrations brand of chocolate sharing tubs, was planning to remove Bounty bars from packs this Christmas prompted widespread coverage across broadcasters and newspapers this week, after research, it said, showed 39% of people wanted the bars removed.

All this despite the fact that it’s not really happening at all. Instead, a limited number of “No Bounty” Celebration tubs will be available at a limited number of Tesco pop-up stores, and unless you happen to be in Cradley Heath on 11 November, Pontypridd Tesco Extra on the 22nd, or 38 other one-day-only destinations, Bounty bars will still be in your Celebrations tub this season – like it or not.

Mars may not, after all, have “killed Christmas”, as Morgan suggested, but its publicity machine has certainly played a blinder. “Every couple of months in the UK PR industry, you’ll get a campaign where everyone just sort of bows down and says, yep, they did that well,” said John Harrington, the UK editor of PR Week.

In designing a marketing campaign, brands sought, in particular, “talkability”, he said – “it’s the idea that people are talking about your brand. If you can get it right, then you can get a huge amount of coverage that you wouldn’t get necessarily from a big, mega-budget glossy advert.”

There are plenty of examples of other brands playing the very same card, from Marmite’s enduring “love it or hate it” campaign, which dates from the 1990s, to the minor furore generated over Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls when they landed during Veganuary in 2019. The Celebrations campaign also echoes a move by its great rival, Quality Street, which has removed its toffee deluxe sweets more than once.

The “holy grail” within the industry, Harrington said, is “earned media” – or huge, viral coverage, for free. Taylor Herring, the PR agency behind the latest Mars campaign, has a formidable track record in its work for Celebrations, having won a PR Week award for last year’s campaign, in which a “lonely Bounty” hunted for love, eventually pairing up with a sprout.

With 3m views of that video, more than 500 media articles and a 1.2 billion worldwide reach, that campaign was hailed by Mars Wrigley as the most successful in its history; this year’s will surely rival it. Little surprise that other brands’s social media accounts – including Iceland, Krispy Kreme, Domino’s and Marmite – have leapt in the last few days to piggyback on the Bounty campaign.

Viral success aside, the campaign comes at an uncertain time for confectionery manufacturers, noted Emma Weinbren, the managing editor of the Grocer. Government anti-obesity measures, which would limit retailers’ ability to offer “bogof” deals, display products prominently or advertise as widely as they wish, have been thrown into question amid the recent Westminster turmoil. “They don’t know what is coming down the line, and there is a slightly confused picture at the minute,” she said.

Sign up to First Edition

Archie Bland and Nimo Omer take you through the top stories and what they mean, free every weekday morning

In that context, Mars will be delighted with its early advantage in what she calls the “battle of the tubs”, when it will challenge Quality Street, Cadbury’s Heroes and others over the lucrative Christmas share of the UK’s £3.6bn annual chocolate market.

“They are all going after the same consumer,” said Weinbren, “and it is which brand can get in front of that shopper and entice them, whether that’s through PR like Mars has done, through deals and clever marketing, or siting in store. They’re all vying for that same shopper at Christmas time.”

Related posts