CLOSE-UP: Live Issue - Nestle Double Cream

Lowe and Nestle try a fresh approach to establish the new brand.

The block chocolate market has changed little over the decades.

Two brands - Dairy Milk and Galaxy, made by Cadbury and Mars respectively - have dominated the sector. However, that sector suffered from a 4 per cent fall in sales last year.

Nestle has decided to enter the fray with its Double Cream brand. It hopes to skirt the sector's sales decline with a distinct positioning from those of its rivals.

The launch is Nestle's first in five years - and only the second in 22 years - and the company is putting £35 million behind the brand, with £9 million set aside for the launch alone.

With its most recent launch experience - Maverick in 1997 - a failure, plus a real sales decline in the sector, where is Nestle's logic?

Jonathan Rigby, Lowe's head of account management, believes that the block chocolate market has started to stagnate because of underinvestment by Cadbury and Mars. Galaxy has been backed by an underwhelming £360,000 above-the-line investment in the 12 months to June, while Dairy Milk has been backed with a more impressive £2.5 million in the same period, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"It has become price, rather than quality, led and there was the opportunity to engage people and put some excitement back in the market with the launch of Double Cream," Rigby explains. He says price promotions have commoditised the market while consumers have developed tastes that are more sophisticated.

So with this thinking in mind, Nestle has priced Double Cream between that of the two market leaders and that of the premium Lindt and Green & Black brands.

Sam Ellison, the Nestle chocolate marketing manager responsible for Double Cream, thinks this will grow the market rather than cannibalise the existing one. "The block sector hasn't changed much and we think there's an opportunity to grow it with a 'mainstream premium' brand. We wanted to break the category rules and our core communication is that the product is the ultimate temptation," she says.

Nestle and Lowe's approach - an epic-style ad reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde - deviates from the norm. The 60-second spot highlights the Ecuadorian cocoa beans and the double cream that are used in manufacturing the chocolate, using a story approach. Ellison says: "The knowledge base of chocolate ingredients is relatively low and we deliberately avoided playing back to people what the chocolate experience is."

Rigby admits that introducing Double Cream is a task that cannot be done over night. He explains that the launch commercial, with its blockbuster feel and complicated narrative, is designed to "introduce the concept".

He compares the ad's strategy with the one that Lowe devised for Stella Artois. It used a different approach to lager advertising by casting French peasants in its ads.

Whether the campaign establishes Double Cream as a premium block chocolate remains to be seen, but Nestle is optimistic that it will generate sales of £25 million by the end of the year.

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