Cadbury appoints F-H to restore reputation

Cadbury Schweppes has appointed Fleishman-Hillard to shore up its corporate reputation globally, in the wake of a number of PR disasters such as its ‘Get Active’ scheme, and to guard against repeat performances.

The confectionery and soft drinks giant hired F-H after a competitive pitch, which came down to a final-round battle against Edelman.

Weber Shandwick and Cohn & Wolfe were involved at an earlier stage.

The brief involves a review of all Cadbury’s activities that affect its reputation. F-H will also be involved in ensuring and communicating the quality of product ingredients and creating fresh CSR initiatives.

Cadbury came under intense fire from the UK media and dietary groups in the spring over the launch of its ‘Get Active’ marketing scheme. Criticised as ill-conceived, the scheme encourages children to collect vouchers from chocolate bars in exchange for school sports equipment. Despite negative publicity, results show the scheme has contributed to a 0.5 per cent rise in UK market share.

Investment bank JP Morgan has since claimed the UK-based company ranks second only to US confectioner Hershey in its exposure to obesity-related lawsuits.

Last year, Cadbury ran an advert in India for its Temptations chocolate bar, depicting the disputed state of Kashmir with the line ‘too good to share’, sparking a barrage of complaints and consumer boycotts.

The company has also been accused of buying cocoa from the Ivory Coast, where it has been claimed that up to 90 per cent of plantations use slaves.

UK managing director Scott Clark led the pitch for F-H. It is understood F-H will draft in staff from its public affairs arm, GPC International, to help on the account.

Cadbury declined to return calls on the matter as PRWeek went to press.

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