Sanjeev Kotnala: Cadbury – The Digital Corporate Baba Ka Dhaba

09 Nov,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


When you know the story behind the Cadbury Diwali ad supporting local retailers, you appreciate the idea, creative and the efforts. However, most consumers neither have access nor the time to read the strategy deck. They just see the campaign, and they react.

My initial reaction to this ad was ‘Another annual Diwali Gifting ad from Cadbury’. However, ‘NOT JUST A CADBURY AD’ immediately raised my ‘for award antenna’. I saw names of retailers contextually feature with the gifts or the occasions. That’s it. The ad was over.

I viewed the ad again. This time focussing on the message.

I realised the technology and the efforts behind it.

Names of few retailers also registered.

A new respect for the thought and implementation grew. It is not easy to cover 1800+ retailers across more than 260 pin codes in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Indore & Pune. Or that’s what some coverage told me.

I do hope this campaign is a huge success ad shows direction and possibilities to other brands. I think we will see more simple and direct innovative campaigns in future.


So, What Is My Problem?

Cadbury Celebrations data-driven campaign ‘Not Just A Cadbury Ad’ highlights the spirit of generosity in action. And that kills it. Saying, ‘It is not a Cadbury ad’ makes it that much more of a Cadbury ad. Why disguise? That line adds nothing to the message or the delivery other than conning people to expect something different! Which they understand only when they get the tech/context AV.

Cadbury claims to provide an advertising platform to local retailers impacted by the pandemic.  This is no advertising platform. The non-paying advertiser (the small retailer) does not have any control of the content or the exposure of the ad. Additionally, we use the same visual for all the shops in a  category across cities and pin codes. This commoditise them. Maybe I am finicky and should just look at the intent.

I Would Have Done A Deal.

I don’t know if the featured outlets are also generous toward the brand. Are they allowing their premises for an enhanced visibility of the brand?  I would have done that. At least the retailers like ‘Chhadava Dry Fruits Powai’, from who the Cadbury celebration pack is bought in the film, should do.

My Problem Is Insufficiency. 

This is more of problem of big city retailers. I saw ‘Kalpana Sringar Andheri West’ and ‘Bhandari Optician, Andheri West’. Now we all know how big  Andheri West is. As a consumer interested in jewellery, the possible reactions are;

1. I earlier bought from them. I know where the shop is.

2. I have seen the shop and I remember where it is.

3. The vast majority – where the hell in Andheri West is this shop?

Adding another variable would have done wonders. It just needed one more line. ‘Kalpana Jewellers, Nr Sammelan Party Hall*, Andheri West’.  Seriously and sincerely, it would have completed the act. No new data required. And a few more lines of code to pick another static variable.

Minor Checks could Help.

I cannot locate ‘Kalpana Sringar, Andheri West’ on Google map. So, no positive action possible, even if I wanted to buy from them. Google is the ultimate. Could Cadbury done anything to ensure Google Map presence for these shops. A bit more. That extra mile! I know it is not Cadbury’s business. And it is not even the purpose! Or am I wrong?

Too Many Categories.

Five different product categories in 60-seconders!

I hope the brand knows how people consume advertising. They must, as the film ends on Cadbury Giftpack! And you do remember it. The film make sense for the brand and the audience, only if one watches till the end.

‘When all of us support our local stores, all of us can have happy Diwali’, says Cadbury. So poetic. I appreciate it. However, I would sacrifice being poetic for being direct and effective.

It would been superlative.

It would have been fantabulouslyextremelygigianticsuccess if Cadbury could have further helped these non-digital foot-print retailers get on e-commerce presence. No, that’s again not Cadbury lookout.  But, what if they did it? What if they really created a #CadburyLocalRetailGift or e-commerce setup with some start-up like #Dunzo or even get them on Flipkart or Amazon. Oh, people like me with not much skin in the game, can keep thinking of such integration. I know, business have constraints. And I appreciate that. But, for me that is the difference between Aha and Wah..

Simplifying At The Cost Of Creativity.

You need to watch the ad completely.  Then make sense of a globally valid statement of collectiveness. Maybe refer to the strategy document for details. Personally, I believe in more simple and straight direct communication. Like, ‘Support Local Retailer in your area’ or ‘Find the local retailer of YOUR Pin code  area in this Cadbury ad’. Or something like that. However, I understand and appreciate that this is a creative decision, and what is right or wrong is always debatable. The brand has done what it felt right, and one respects that. But…

So, Iss Diwali Aap #KiseKhushKarenge? Cadbury waale Kush toh honge.


NOTE 1: Shilpi D Pathak, is a friend and an content marketing specialist. Her reaction to Cadbury Diwali ad; it reminds her of the ‘Baba Ka Dhaba’. Now, you look at it, the intent and the expectations form the audience is the same. Where it differs is the use of platform, process and technology.


NOTE 2: The YouTube  version that I watched had a mixed set of retailers across cities. Kajari Selection-Pune, Jyoti Optician-Indore, Sahil Jewellers-Delhi, Ajanta Times-Ahmedabad and Chhadava Dry Fruits-Mumbai. Would have preferred that even this version was city specific even if the pin-code technology does not work there!

*Dummy street name. And well, the Google Map did not show me this retailer.


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