Mondelez's Matthew Williams: 'Back in 2001, you skipped TV ads by making a cup of tea'

Matthew Williams and the chocolate factory: Mondelez's Williams discusses what a typical month is like in the marketing department of one of Britain's best loved chocolate brands.

Mondelez's Matthew Williams: 'Back in 2001, you skipped TV ads by making a cup of tea'

It was a sweet day when I joined Cadbury as a young brand manager in 2001. I am pleased to have had 14 years with the business now, and my current role as Mondelez International’s marketing activation director for UK & Ireland chocolate certainly keeps me busy. Although, as with any job, each day has its ups and downs, chocolate genuinely is a fun category to work in and Cadbury is a truly world-class brand.

Marketing has changed a lot and continues to do so at an ever-increasing rate. Back in 2001, you skipped TV ads by going to make a cup of tea, and an application was a formal request for a job…

As always, there have been many projects keeping me busy over recent months. Innovation is a key part of the chocolate market and, as market-leader, it is key for both our business and the category to grow. We’re just launching a new bar, Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch – positioned as the perfect choice for someone looking for a little mid-morning treat – and a delicious new range of Green & Black’s Thin bars. There is much more to come, of course, through the rest of this year, and only last week (mid-March) I had the chance to sit down with my European counterparts to agree on the big launches for 2016.

My three young sons think I have the best job in the world, because I get to try all the ideas for new Cadbury chocolate bars first

The nation’s favourite chocolate

Cadbury has always been, and I believe will always be, the nation’s favourite chocolate. We are lucky that our consumers are passionate about everything we do and you see that in the way that they react to every piece of news about the brand. We are in the business of bringing them a moment of joy, which can be challenging at times. With a brand as popular and loved as Cadbury, you would expect nothing less.

While outside we’ve only just detected the first signs of spring, the marketing team is working hard planning for Christmas. It’s an important season for our business, and one when our brand is even more important and special for our consumers. As one woman said in a recent piece of research we conducted: "Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Cadbury." And with retailers investing more and more in their marketing campaigns each Christmas, we have to challenge ourselves to find new and different ways to get our message across.

Chocolate perks

When it all gets too busy, it’s always nice to take some chocolates home at the weekend. Whether you take them to family or friends, and whether it’s new products or old favourites, you are instantly reminded of the power of our brands in the responses people give. And you normally get a few ideas for free – for new chocolate bars or ads or, often, both.

My three young sons think I have the best job in the world, because I get to try all the ideas for new Cadbury chocolate bars first. It’s certainly one of the perks of my role and I really enjoy the time I get to spend with our R&D experts in Bournville. It’s there that our ‘glass and a half’ chocolate gets mixed with new ingredients and formed into novel textures and shapes every day of the year.

I remember vividly the first time I tasted some of those, like the Marvellous Creations bars.

Since its launch in 2013, Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations has smashed all our targets and become a key player in the portfolio. A key part of the products’ success is the way they catch consumers’ attention and spark their imagination through the distinctive packaging and unusual taste combinations. Every day is a busy day at Cadbury and we make 200 Marvellous Creations bars every minute at Bournville. That particular brand is our biggest launch of the past three years, driving category growth. It is now worth more than £50m in retail sales.

I am proud of our rich heritage, and it proves a great source of inspiration. If we’re ever stuck on something, we visit our archive, which stores all our historical packaging and key documents dating back to the late 1800s, or the Cadbury World attraction that delights its visitors every day.

The Aztec zone at The Cadbury World attraction

This year, our famous Milk Tray brand is 100 years old. We have big plans in the pipeline to celebrate this, but we are not the only ones. Music producer David Guetta released a classic Milk Tray-ad-themed video montage for his single What I Did for Love, featuring Emeli Sandé, in March.

You forget sometimes why you work so hard, but when those kind of things happen you are instantly reminded.

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