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Choc horror – but marketing experts split over Toblerone change


By Billy Curtis

MARKETING EXPERTS are split over whether Toblerone changing the shape of its chocolate bars will affect sales in the run up to Christmas.

The Swiss brand announced it was increasing the gaps between triangles as a cost-cutting measure on its Facebook page three weeks ago, sparking nationwide outrage.

Caroline Eardley, client services director at Jaywing PR in Leeds, said: “The new design, and 10% shrinking, of the Toblerone bar will be seen by consumers as a massive fail – you just don’t mess with a product as iconic as this!

“In PR terms, however, it’s done for the product what PR people dream of – blanket coverage across national and broadcast media and thousands of conversations started across social media channels, in a crucial pre-Christmas sales period.

“The announcement of the new design, and the subsequent outrage, will also have alerted new audiences, perhaps younger people, to the fact that Toblerone exists, and that it’s delicious!

“There’s a huge opportunity here too – if I was the CEO of Toblerone I’d  be announcing a ‘return to our original design and size, after listening to our customers’ after six months. A complete win-win!”
And Carmel Harrison, who runs a PR company in Wakefield, agreed the Toblerone brand, owned by Mondelēz International, a US food and drink corporation, could have handled the situation differently.

“With such a sudden announcement, of course everyone was going to be shocked. They could have a led into it or taken steps beforehand to make sure the impact wasn’t so abrupt.

“It was to do with the increase in the price of raw materials after Brexit, but they could have even made the bar smaller instead of increasing the gaps,” she said.

But Lucy Slater from Blue Claw PR in Leeds believes the chocolate will survive.

“I think the best way to deal with it now is to have some fun with it, people took it all far too seriously.

“I don’t think it’ll affect their sales come Christmas. It’s a Christmas delicacy, and Poundland are selling the old versions for now, so people will be stocking up!”

And Gary Hood, store member at Sainsbury’s in Leeds said he hasn’t seen a drastic change in sales since the news.

“From what I can see, sales are perfectly fine. We only sell Toblerone at Christmas, and we’ve already sold the four cases brought in this morning.

“So far things are looking like the usual Christmas period.”

However, the public backlash has still not ended. A Facebook page named ‘Boycott Toblerone’ which was set up in the immediate aftermath of the changes, is still active and organisers have pledged to continue campaigning until the original bar is restored.

Celebrities are not happy either with Ricky Gervais saying on Facebook: “Don’t be fooled people, all this stuff in America is to bury the news about the Toblerone.”

What do you think?