Big Awards 2008 - TV and Cinema Gold - Cadbury, Gorilla

LONDON - A man in a gorilla suit drumming along to Phil Collins is a far cry from a woman sat on the sofa in a silk dressing gown seductively sucking on a wedge of chocolate.

Gorilla...TV and cinema gold award winner
Gorilla...TV and cinema gold award winner

Fallon London

And if someone had said at the beginning of 2007 that this would form the narrative of one of the year's most popular advertising campaigns, not just for chocolate but for any product, you would have probably assumed they were mad, or high.

But it was this unprecedented simplicity and surrealism that made the Cadbury "gorilla" campaign for Dairy Milk surprising and engaging to consumers, and propelled it into the advertising hall of fame.

As Damon Collins, the executive creative director at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, and one of the TV category judges, explains: "It's a rare thing to be able to say so much by actually saying so little."

The ad was the first of Cadbury's "Glass and a Half Full" productions, which spawned the follow-up ?"trucks" as well as the creation of an entire production company-style department within Fallon devoted to the campaign.

The initial brief was simple: replicate the feeling consumers got when eating chocolate when they watched the campaign. And for some reason, a gorilla flexing his shoulders and taking a few pensive breaths through flared nostrils, before exploding into impassioned drumming, did the trick.

"I think it struck a chord with the public in the same way that the sneezing panda has got millions of ?hits on YouTube; it's sweet and funny. It's very difficult to deny that when something has had such popularity with such a broad spectrum of ?people that it's a great piece of work," Collins adds.

And it was shifting chocolate bars too. By October 2007, just one month after the ad launched, sales of Dairy Milk had shot up 7 per cent and weekly sales were up 9 per cent year on year during the period "gorilla" was on air.

Although the "Glass and a Half Full" story is marred by more recent figures from TNS, showing that Dairy Milk has actually lost market share in comparison with Galaxy (a proponent of ads of the aforementioned ?woman-sits-on-sofa variety), the original execution still managed to reverse the negative media maelstrom that engulfed Cadbury in 2006, and ultimately won over the judges.