How A Gorilla Rescued A Brand

There was once a company selling chocolate confectionery. Their products were well loved, in fact the brand was a household name. Disaster struck in 2006 when a salmonella scare associated with their products provoked a recall. Because of that disastrous incident the company had to rekindle the love with its customers. They hired a marketing agency to tell their customers that their chocolates still made you feel good. The result of the collaboration with the marketing agency was the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad that aired for the first time on 31 August 2007. I watched it then and have love it ever since. A few days ago I watched it again with my 4 years old daughter. She smiled with delight when the gorilla started drumming. At the end of the ad she was so impressed that she said: “Daddy, I think the gorilla had lessons”.

What I love in this ad is the powerful feel good emotion that it generates. To paraphrase Juan Cabral, the art director of the campaign, this ad goes to the heart not the brain. In the first 60 seconds nothing seemingly happens, there is just the gorilla and Phil Collins’s In the Air Tonight. In actual fact during this first minute, empathy builds up between the viewer and the gorilla who –like a human- blinks, grimaces showing a golden tooth and stretches its neck. The audience is captivated and puzzled. Then suddenly come the explosion, the bouquet, the ecstatic emotional release when the gorilla launches into what is arguably one of the greatest drum solos of all time. The viewer gets to an emotional high, they feel good and at the end Cadbury logo appears almost as an after-thought. The ad went viral and was seen by millions on You Tube. As a direct result the brand’s relationship with their customers was restored, sales grew 10% and the brand is still enjoying commercial success today.

To make such a powerful impact, I agree with my daughter that indeed the gorilla had lessons not only in music but also…in Digital Marketing. You too can learn the skills to make an impact.

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