Opinion: Newland on ... Cadbury

"Meltdown for the Flake girl as Cadbury axes ad," a Sunday Times headline screamed over the weekend.

Aside from some on-the-ball PR, such column inches testify to the popularity of the old Flake girl, and her ability over several decades to eat a bar of chocolate as if she were giving a blow job. But there's no room for the likes of her in Publicis' debut "masterbrand" campaign for Cadbury.

Or is there? We see a woman, dowdy and pinched in comparison with her Flake girl predecessors, open her handbag on to a bed. On to the purple satin quilt tumbles a Flake. The word "vibrator" popped into my head at this precise moment. From under the bed appears a puma - the animal embodiment of dowdy lady's happiness. The puma purrs, not unlike a vibrator, and the dowdy lady delays a rendez-vous with her boyfriend before sitting back on the bed and savouring her Flake. The puma, fulfilled, idles away on a guitar in a style reminiscent of the decadent Greek emperors of old.

So there you go. The ad is even more sexual than its predecessors; it's just more subtle. While the old Flake girls bludgeoned you with overt sexuality, this spot just nudges you unknowingly in that direction.

Unable to resist the insight that women derive a sex-like satisfaction from consuming chocolate, Publicis has sharpened up the execution of this view, dragging it into this millennium.

This is achieved by using humour; that weird puma. The dowdiness of the protagonist also helps. The old Flake ads took themselves too seriously for today's tastes. Fronted by slow-moving, swollen-lipped lovelies, they were insultingly obvious in their delivery of the chocolate equals sex message.

But Cadbury doesn't want to forget men. It's taking a chance that they like chocolate too and has crafted a 30-second commercial just for them.

This time it's for Dairy Milk. The brand has the ability to attract men because it's almost a generic: if it's no-frills chocolate you want, Dairy Milk's the bar for you.

The spot casts a nerdy man into grey office life. He's saving a Dairy Milk for a treat, but his happiness - this time embodied by a sheep - won't let him wait. The man chows down and the sheep careers him around the office on his chair as trumpets blaze in excited triumph.

Wow. It's even weirder than the puma spot. Again the humour and casting will attract consumers. This is no Brad Pitt chomping down, it's a wimp, whose dreadful hair and grey tank top make his friendship with a sheep plausible.

The animals are rather clunkily tagged "happiness" in each execution.

This inelegance reveals that the creative idea is difficult to convey in a short time frame. The campaign's endline, "your happiness loves Cadbury", also takes some getting used to. It explains the ads, but doesn't stand alone too well. It's also more than a little reminiscent of Mars' lacklustre "pleasure you can't measure" line.

However, it's when you compare the Cadbury ads with Mars' that their depth becomes apparent. While Mars begs and pleads with us to associate good times with its brand, Cadbury tells us it can make the good times happen.

I also buy the logic of using Cadbury as the banner over its Dairy Milk, Flake, Creme Egg and Roses sub-brands. Backed with a £34 million marketing budget, the campaign will encourage consumers to come to Cadbury, whatever their chocolate urge is nagging them about that day.

It has taken Publicis almost two years to come up with this campaign, and you can feel the sweat that's gone into devising it.

Dead cert for a Pencil? Not a jury pleaser.

File under ... H for hard-working.

What would the chairman's wife say? "My happiness prefers Green &

Black's."