Cadbury bids to worm way into public good books with Big B endorsement

MUMBAI: The Big B is going to promote the Big C in the chocolate business - Cadbury in India. Indian cine superstar Amitabh Bachchan has signed on to become the brand ambassador of the chocolate major for two years.

AB will play a pivotal role in all communication relating to Cadbury's products and brands, be it in print, on television or the great outdoors, the company's managing director Bharat Puri has been quoted as saying in media reports.

AB had played a lead role in helping turn around the fortunes of the then straggling television channel Star Plus by anchoring the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and taking it up the ratings charts a couple of years ago. Many other advertisers such as ICICI, Nerolac, have used AB in their advertising since then.

Cadbury India, whose chocolates had ridden into controversy late last year during the festival season because worms were discovered in some stocks of its Dairy Milk chocolates is probably hoping the association with Bachchan will help consumers forget the bad press the company got on account of the discovery.

The Food and Drug Administration had then seized the company's stocks and the Cadbury India management had explained it was bad storage practices by retailers and distributors which had led to the worms. Cadbury India's sales fell following the discovery. And even the government got into the act with the central health ministry asking for a report on the controversy.

Cadbury on its part has since then been taking corrective measures. It immediately initiated Project Vishwas, a three-step programme involving wholesalers and retailers in which the company partners with the traders on a war-footing to build awareness about storage requirements for Cadbury products. The AB association is another step in this direction to help consumers build confidence in the brand. AB is among the most trusted and revered film stars in India.

While making the announcement, Cadbury today launched a strengthened, new 'purity sealed' packaging for Cadbury Dairy Milk and this new packaging for 13 mg (Rs 5) is double wrapped for maximum protection. The chocolate is wrapped in aluminium foil and enclosed in a poly flow pack, which is completely sealed on all sides.

In the second phase, the larger Cadbury Dairy Milk packs will come in poly-coated aluminium foil, which will be heat-sealed and wrapped in the branded outer package.

The Indian chocolate market is estimated at about 4,000 tonnes with a valuation of around Rs 6500 million annually. Cadbury India has the lion's share of 60 per cent with its closest competitor being Swiss confectionery company Nestle with an estimated 25 per cent.

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