OPINION: Cowen on ... Cadbury's Snowflake

For those young men still in their formative years in the 80s,

Cadbury's Flake advertising has a lot to answer for. As if spotty boys

of my generation weren't confused enough about the opposite sex, we were

invited to sit and watch gorgeous, sultry, full-lipped women lying back

and doing heavenly things to bars of chocolate. One thing became certain

every time we saw a Flake ad, or listened to a girl we desperately

fancied talk about curling up under a blanket with some Milk Tray. Not

only would we never understand women, we'd never have a chance with them

if there was a Cadbury's product within 25 yards.

But, of course, we weren't supposed to understand. Those 80s ads may

have used more scantily clad babes than a swimsuit calendar but that

didn't stop them being targeted at women.

They were set in an indulgent female land that young fellows like me

were never invited to, equating the basic sugar rush to a feeling of

sensual well-being that wasn't dependent on having some bloke available.

The ads were sexy - but in a way that was escapist rather than

pornographic. They were certainly less offensive than your average James

Bond film - and they were usually a lot better shot. They never forgot

which sex was going to be buying the product and they never got

distracted from this by the temptation to shock.

Which is just about exactly what's wrong with the new poster ad for

Cadbury's product extension, Snowflake. It's not that I'm shocked by the

oh-so-subtle "job" double entendre, although I suspect I'm supposed to

be. It's more that this ad doesn't seem to know who it is aimed at,

unless you actually believe that it's recruiting models.

I certainly wouldn't expect women to respond in the way they did to the

original Flake campaigns. This is less female fantasy, more a quick bang

behind the bike sheds. Instead, this Flake-meets-fcuk humour appears to

be directed at the lads, which seems suicidal when you consider that

we're talking about the UK's most phallic piece of chocolate. I suppose

it could be intended for Lambrini-chugging ladettes, but I'm not sure

this works either. Sure they might appreciate the hilarious undertones

of white chocolate crumbling in your mouth - but are they really that

keen to buy the same product as princess sweetpea herself, Anthea


This is my other problem with the Snowflake poster - it forms part of a

campaign that is mindblowingly inconsistent. There's our 48-sheet Loaded

spread masquerading as an ad. There's possibly the least sexy Flake TV

ad yet, in which a girl has a bite and turns into the sponsorship ident

for the ITV weather forecast. And then there's Anthea, who's had a

magazine cover of her mounted with the bar to support both its launch in

August 2000 and its relaunch this month.

Cadbury's and TBWA/London can always argue their strategy works because

the sales figures say so. True, Snowflake sold out across the country

first time around, but it was a launch that relied on short-term PR

rather than brand building.

It is the job of advertising to entrench and extend Snowflake's appeal

and I think its prospects are best illustrated by an example of the

poster a friend of mine noticed in Haringey. Up less than two weeks and

someone has already helpfully added a pair of testicles and the words:

"What a slag." I'm not sure if the cartoonist is referring to the model

or commenting on the marketing strategy, but either way Cadbury's should

be worried. This ad tries to play dirty with us but ends up on the wrong

side of the joke. It's reduced Flake's long-running sensuality to crude

smut - and that's not particularly appetising.

Dead cert for a Pencil? FHM's ad of the year, more likely.

File this ad under: C for crude (if you're feeling generous).

What would the chairman's wife say? So is it this girl's job to eat

chocolate bars all day?