'Witch-Kraft' endangers trust in Creme Egg brand

A sickly sweet treat enjoyed by millions since its inception in 1963, the Cadbury Creme Egg is a British institution.

Playing with a much-loved recipe is a dangerous game, warns Sophie Zumbé
Playing with a much-loved recipe is a dangerous game, warns Sophie Zumbé
We wolf down more than 200 million of them annually with unashamed glee.

This year, though, something changed. 

Rather than covering the oozy, sticky, some may even say heavenly, fondant centre with Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, the traditional shell was replaced with a ‘standard’ cocoa mix. 

To add further insult to injury the number of eggs in a standard ‘pack’ was reduced from the customary six to five, meaning that although the recommended retail price was reduced from £3.05 to £2.88 the average cost per egg increased from 51p to 57p.

These amendments have been met with widespread outrage from the firm’s Creme Egg faithful, who feel the changes signify underhanded cost-cutting from Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez International, part of multinational food company Kraft. 

This is one in a series of PR blunders that have had a significant negative impact on the Cadbury brand since Mondelez bought the English confectionery institution for £11.5bn in a hostile takeover in 2010.

In the case of the Creme Egg, Cadbury’s considerable social media presence has come back to bite it in the proverbial, as its digitally savvy consumer base has mobilised on social media to publicly voice its concerns. 

Take a look at Cadbury's Facebook page and the wall is peppered with discontent, one customer commenting on the inferior taste of the new "capitalist Creme Egg" and another vowing to boycott the brand until the recipe is returned to its former glory.

Bosses at Kraft claim that the product changes were based on consumer research, but seem to have underestimated the taste buds of the average Brit, many of whom have likened the new ‘standard’ shell to the chocolate found in cheap advent calendars or supermarket economy ranges.

This is not the first time Kraft has implemented a misjudged strategy.

Shortly after its takeover, Kraft sold Cadbury’s historic Somerdale factory near Bristol, which had been open since 1935, after initially vowing not to close the site. 

Pockets duly lined, production was moved to Poland.

While we Brits are aware of the presence of Kraft in the Cadbury boardroom, it is the British institution itself that we are invested in. Regaining its reputation as a quality brand requires continuous improvement, so rather than dismissing the concerns of consumers, Cadbury must address them head on. 

Going back to basics by holding focus groups and launching new or improved products will start a positive dialogue, something that is desperately needed in a time of such adverse publicity.

Let’s not forget that Kraft, as a global brand, does have much to offer.

Since 2010 Cadbury has launched Dairy Milk bars with an Oreo filling and Dairy Milk nestled in Ritz biscuits, two of Kraft’s own products, both of which were wildly popular.

By focusing on the resources it can provide to improve the Cadbury product range while promoting the values that endeared the brand to us to begin with – quality, community and customer engagement – Kraft can repair the damage done to the firm by ‘Creme Egg-gate’ and begin to remove the scepticism surrounding its takeover. 

Sophie Zumbé is a PR consultant at Smarts Illuminate

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