Mondelez expects this CSK also to be a winner

Vinay Kamath | Updated on April 18, 2019

Anil Viswanathan, Director, Marketing, Mondelez India

Cadbury serves up sweet somethings for Tamil Nadu

Anil Viswanathan settles down in the cool interiors of Sangeetha, a popular restaurant just off the busy Sardar Patel Road in Adyar, Chennai. The roar of the traffic is muted and the escape from the muggy morning outside is welcome.

He’s greeted with a Cadbury-flavoured gulab jamun. If that doesn’t sound incongruous, more Cadbury-infused dishes come to the table for Viswanathan to taste: Cadbury elai adai, dosas, kuzhi paniyarams, chilly gobi, et al, all traditional dishes from a typical South Indian kitchen. So, what gives?

As Director, Marketing (chocolates) of Mondelez India (which owns the Cadbury brand), Viswanathan is on a whirlwind visit to Chennai where he will be tasting experimental cuisine at five prominent city eateries — all made from Cadbury chocolate of course.

A two-month activation, Cadbury Sweet Kondattam (celebrations), culminated in a grand finale on April 14, Tamil New Year’s day. The CSK, for which The Hindu’s brand solutions team partnered with Mondelez, tied up with five sweets and snacks stores as well as restaurants in the city: Grand Sweets & Snacks; the Sangeetha chain of restaurants; Gangotree, well known for its chaats; Sandwich Square and Mad Lassi. Their mandate: to come up with sweets and savouries using Mondelez’s blockbuster brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk.

In a conversation, while sampling the various Cadbury-based dishes Sangeetha has to offer, Viswanathan explains the CSK activation and its importance for a brand such as Cadbury, even though it’s a category market leader. Penetration is key, he says. “We have been trying to increase penetration and one way of unlocking penetration is availability.” The second lever to increase penetration is access, for which the company continues to work through low price points to the upper end, and also through extensive distribution of its visi-coolers; 4 lakh of them have been placed in the market (for Silk). Cadbury Dairy Milk itself is available across two million outlets.


The third prong is relevance. The Indian chocolate market, according to industry figures quoting Nielsen, is around ₹10,000 crore, of which Mondelez India would have a lion’s share of 65 per cent. “Much of our story is relevant at a country level, but the finding is that we should get more integrated into the regional culture,” explains Viswanathan. In 2012, Mondelez started this same exercise in West Bengal where traditional sweet consumption was deeply ingrained while chocolate remained peripheral, despite being well accepted. Over several years, Mondelez, which had tied up with a local media group, worked with popular sweet stores and met with some success. Why, some of them even have chocolate mishti doi (sweet curd), a virtual Bengali staple.


Mondelez was clear it wanted to recreate the same exercise in Tamil Nadu, which has a large sweets and savoury consuming population. But, unlike in the North and West, it realised that communication may not play as big a role in the South to influence category relevance. “While we have been talking of gifting Cadbury during festivals, and we are seeing traction, for traditional festivals in the South such as a Navaratri or Pongal, incidences are much lower. So that’s why our move to integrate with sweets, start engaging with key influencers and start building conversations around Cadbury,” elaborates Viswanathan.

A few years down the line, if chocolate becomes more ingrained in conversations in TN, “then we will know we have made some inroads,” he adds.


For the CSK exercise, played out over March and April (a great window, Viswanathan says, as it doesn’t impinge on the many festivals later in the year), chefs across the five stores and restaurants, spread out across 50 outlets in the city, let their imagination run riot. If Grand Sweets had Cadbury cashew apple, Cadbury malai jamun and even a Cadbury ‘hand’ murukku, among other sweets, Gangotree came up with a Cadbury-infused burfi and rasmalai. Sandwich Square experimented with a Cadbury choco ice cream sandwich, choco fries and even a choco pasta! Mad Lassi, of course, came up with Cadbury-infused lassis and shakes.


“We get our branding as well in these dishes. We want to be here for a while to understand what works, engage with all cohorts so that CSK becomes a festival of its own. From a consumer standpoint, they are assured of quality, instead of merely saying a chocolate dosa, a Cadbury dosa adds a certain sense of taste. The willingness to try would go up with this branding,” elaborates Viswanathan.

The objectives were clear:

To inspire more varied usage of Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) among TN consumers, increase brand affinity and purchase frequency

Create a public tasting and category-level voting for the best Cadbury-infused sweets and snacks and typical tiffin items.

Consumer contest to give a twist to popular sweets and snacks by incorporating CDM.

Cooking up a campaign

Over March and April, a 360-degree campaign evolved. Apart from advertising in The Hindu and The Hindu Tamil and a TV commercial featuring Chennai’s iconic Chef Damu and actor Divyadarshini, there were mentions by RJs on Big FM; social media amplification, tasting sessions with TV celebrities; bus shelters and hoardings talked about the CSK; ladies’ clubs, residents’ welfare associations and malls had sessions as well, while food trucks went around public places and beaches in Chennai offering Cadbury dishes made by the five participating food retailers.

Taste of success: Winners with their dishes at the finale


It’s Sunday, April 14, Tamil New Year’s Day. The VR Mall at Anna Nagar, Chennai, is teeming with holiday shoppers. It’s also the finale of the CSK in a large open atrium. Onlookers throng the upper floors while many look on as escalators take them three floors above. Enthusiasm is running high. Nearly 100 participants, some young boys too among them, are offering up their Cadbury creations for Chef Damu and his team to taste. From them, 20 finalists are selected and they then prepare their dishes at a live counter, 10 of them will make savouries and 10 sweets.

There’s even an over 80-year-old grandmum who has entered her recipe and she gets a special felicitation from Chef Damu. The winning entries are a Cadbury halwa, a cutlet and a Cadbury spicy sandwich! The winners took home gold and silver coins, Cadbury hampers, certificates and trophies. The CSK has resonated with the five food retailers as well. As Sanjana Suresh, Director, SRLPS Foods Pvt Ltd, which owns the Sangeetha chain, says, “The response to this special menu has been incredible. People who love experimenting have become repeat customers for our Cadbury specials.” Cadbury-infused snacks will continue on their menu, she says. Priyanga Madan of The Grand Sweets & Snacks says that it will introduce four to six items on its menu based on customer feedback to its Cadbury sweets.

“The chains are the experts; they developed all the recipes on their own. It was as much in their interest as ours to offer something unique to consumers. The last thing they want is an irate customer. We only offered the base material and got into a conversation with them on how they wanted to use it. It was completely an experiment and in that spirit we also embraced that fearlessness,” says Viswanathan.

If the activation is a good lever for Cadbury to drive penetration and relevance for the category in Tamil Nadu, it will continue to invest in it and make it bigger, perhaps even as an annual event in TN.

“We will stay committed on that and build on it. Then perhaps go beyond Chennai once the model is perfected here, make it a pan-TN event and eventually move to Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka as well,” adds Viswanathan. Like the big, match-winning Tamil Nadu brand, the CSK, Cadbury expects its CSK also to be a winner.

Published on April 18, 2019

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