Selling chocolate

Nov 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Personal Columns

The complaint at the dinner table was that the school milk cartons were changing; no more would Irish pupils encounter puns about cows being so cool that they were Friesian or about them being ‘moosicians’.  However cringeworthy the jokes printed on the packaging, they had obviously  entered the consciousness of a generation of schoolchildren. However, there is a difference between gaining a place in someone’s consciousness and actually making them want to buy a product.

Advertisements from the 1960s and 70s remain clear in the memory, most of which created no desire to rush out and spend money on what they were trying to sell.

The Milky Bar ads were the worst.  How did it go? “The Milky Bar Kid is strong and tough and only the best is good enough . . .”  Was it some early exercise in positive discrimination?  The Milky Bar Kid was not strong and tough; he looked geeky.  He looked like the sort of person Dennis the Menace would have singled out for special attention.

The chocolate advertisements were always amongst the silliest.

Remember the scantily clad twenty-somethings stepping ashore on the tropical island? “They came in search of paradise and found it in Bounty”.  Rubbish.  Bounty must have had the most exaggerated qualities of any bar of chocolate.

Mars was much more prosaic.  “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”.  Never knew what that meant.  How did a Mars help you play?

Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut was just off the wall.  “Everyone’s a fruit and nutcase!”  How was that song going to persuade people to buy chocolate?

“All because the lady loves Milk Tray”, with its James Bond-like adventures became the subject of numerous parodies, while “Who knows the secret of the Black Magic box?” seemed pointless.  Of course we knew the secret; it was to fill the box up with plain chocolates which kids did not like leaving the entire contents of the box for adult consumption.

Perhaps remembering the advertisements is a sign their makers succeeded; perhaps the best they can do is to get a brand name lodged in someone’s brain and hope that, when it comes to making choices, brand recognition will boost sales

Perhaps even the best advertisement copy writer can do nothing about the subversive ways of some children and can operate on the assumption that many other children are much more pliant, though it is hard to imagine that anyone thought Bounty would transport them to the Caribbean.

Yet even amongst the more easily influenced, how many were persuaded by that silly kid in his silly cowboy outfit?  Be honest, did anyone really ever buy Milky Bar for themselves, or was the advertisement really directed at parents and their wishes as to how they would like their children to be?

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  1. I must confess a weakness now and again for a Milky Bar……..The advert that I always found fascinating was the one screwed to the front of the counter in Simon Spearings (now demolished) shop opposite High Ham school………2 kittens in a pair of boots…advertising Cherry Blossom boot polish…….so much so that I have a smaller enamel version in my dining room!!

  2. I remember the ad – I was never sure what the kittens were meant to be saying about black boot polish!

  3. I think tha it was meant to show that if you used Cherry Blossom polish it softened the leather so it was comfortable enough for the kittens to sleep in. On the original advert it stated ‘For real Comfort’ under the picture of the kittens

  4. Ah, right. I always thought kittens would be pretty useless to use cleaning your boots.

  5. The Milk Tray man would do for me. Now we’re meant to buy things for ourselves ‘because you’re worth it’.

  6. Did the Milk tray ad prompt men to buy chocolates for women or prompt women to tell men that they wanted Milk Tray?!

  7. Unless they were really fluffy……..and you rubbed really hard…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. It prompted my wife to remind me never to buy her Milk tray as she doesn’t care much for milk chocolate preferring plain and hates the creme centre ones so in a negative way the advert worked!!!!

  9. Cats could have some use after all!

  10. So, you are the person who know the secret of the Black Magic box!

  11. The secret…….yes its about £5.50….!!!!!!! …..and the great thing about the cats is that you can use them time and time again….Reminds me I must raise the napp on my CAT boots …now where did I put that hedgehog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. My sister fell out with her partner at the weekend and he pushed a box of Lidl chocolates through the door on Monday – ah men – how simple, how foolish…

  13. And what’s wrong with Lidl chocolates? Lidl do some very good stuff. I have bought some excellent bargains there!

  14. I agree Ian, the quality of some of their goods is very good, I believe Lidl are a German Company, and they are renowned for their quality…BMW….Audi….VW…..hmmm OK yawwwnnn maybe a bit boring….

  15. Do you remember the chocolate that used to come in the shape of Father Christmases, bells, etc wrapped in appropriate coloured foil for hanging in Christmas trees? You would think there was a real treat to come when the tree was taken down and the stuff would taste yuck!

  16. Hahaha yes I do Ian, what a disappointment……and do you know what? still having young children we still have those brightly wrapped chocolate treats on our Christmas trees and the manufacturers are still using the same recipe as they did 40 odd years ago……..Yuck !!!!!!!

  17. You mean there is someone somewhere still making that stuff? I thought it used to come from Eastern Europe but would have stopped when the old Soviet bloc ceased to exist.

  18. I’ll keep some back this year Ian and pass them on if you want to relive again the excited anticipation of the taste of Christmas Santa Choccy…..haha..

  19. hmm, remind me never to ask you for chocolates

  20. I’ll send you a bottle of wine instead!

  21. Hahahahaha!!!!

  22. if you bought it i might drink it

  23. Oops – brought it

  24. That’s a relief! I only ever buy wine I like and am very, very loathe to give it away. If it was something I brought, then it would be a bottle someone else had bought and brought to our house.

  25. charming… nice to know I’m not even worth a second-hand gift! Or where you just trying to demonstrate your language skills…

  26. were!!!

  27. I’m like the person who brings a hospital patient a bunch of grapes and sits and eats them while talking to the patient!

  28. Since I don’t actually drink and am allergic to grapes – and don’t like your taste in chocolates – we’d be best off not visiting then… : )

  29. But I would be eating the grapes, anyway.

    What about a bottle of Lucozade? Do you remember people coming to visit with a bottle of Lucozade wrapped in orange cellophane?

  30. No, only decent chocolates will do – preferably without the hospital too.

  31. Go on Ian splash out on the Ferrero Roche……haha ….I remember the lucozade with the cellophane wrapper……..Oh and on the subject of cellophane…the Bridgwater factory doesn’t produce the nasty niffs anymore…..closed a few years ago….

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