Cadbury Does It Again – Five Star Finger Feast

Cadbury Does It Again - Five Star Finger Feast


The work Cadbury has been doing with VCCP over the last few years has been some of the industry’s most distinctive and effective. Cadbury’s ads have a very individual feel – naturalistic vignettes of everyday life, usually starring kids and without music. “Fence”, their 5-Star 2019 ad for Dairy Milk about two kids giving a bar of chocolate to a lonely old neighbour, is one of the best examples. The ads are simple without being simplistic, and since nothing about the costumes or locations feels especially modern they have a timeless feel to them, as if they could have been made at any time in the last 40 years or so. That only adds to their charm.

Even so, “Fingers Big And Small” represents a minor break from the formula. The quiet, intimate style remains the same but this is a montage advert, built out of a series of close-up moments involving fingers – both the chocolate and the human kind. It ends with a kid sharing a Cadbury Dairy Milk Finger with their parent (ending on a peak of happiness, just as an effective ad should). Before that we see fingers typing, playing the piano, and getting bandaged – and there’s a cameo from a hungry dinosaur too.

What’s interesting about this ad is that it’s doing things we’d usually advise brands not to do: abstracting body parts and fragmenting a narrative. Those techniques, in general, catch the “narrow-beam” attention of the left brain and are less effective for long-term brand building, as they feel less human and emotional. Orlando Wood, in his book Lemon and its upcoming sequel, presents evidence that such “left brained” elements in an ad make it less likely to catch people’s attention or spark much positive feeling.

But this Cadbury ad avoids those pitfalls – it’s very emotionally effective indeed, scoring yet another 5-Stars for the brand with a huge Brand Fluency and short-term Spike ratings too. What makes it work so well? The ad foregrounds the sensual pleasure of eating a Cadbury Finger, which means its focus on the hands rather than faces or eyes works. It’s also an example of where the intimate style of the campaign works beautifully, meaning we can lean in and hear quiet childrens’ voices, the crunch of biscuit breaking, and a tiny growl from the plastic dino. Imagine the ad with a rhythmic soundtrack and it would seem much harsher and less appealing.

It’s a testament to the power of creativity, and why all creative ‘rules’ are really ‘guidelines’ – with the right idea and execution, even a technique which is normally dehumanising can feel delightfully fresh and personal.

Creative agency credit: VCCP London