2018年11月12日

Behind Whittaker's marketing strategy


A family brand established in 1896 in Christchurch, and later moved to Wellington, Whittaker’s chocolate is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most beloved brands. AdNews finds out how it has remained sweet for more than a century.

With waves of international confectionery competitors steadily hitting New Zealand’s shores, homegrown chocolate brand Whittaker’s has had to pivot and evolve, while also remaining true to its wholesome brand messaging.

Working with its media agency, MBM NZ, and creative agency, Assignment, Whittaker’s has serious celebrity pulling power with its ambassador, Nigella Lawson, and very much remains a big fan of the good old TVC.

Late last month it revealed big plans to expand more heavily into the Australian market, inking a deal with Coles. AdNews spoke with J.H. Whittaker’s Sons’ marketing manager, Jasmine Currie, who revealed the challenges and opportunities the famous chocolate brand faces in a new consumer landscape.

What is your current marketing strategy?

In New Zealand, the TVC is still a key channel for us as it allows us to connect directly with Whittaker’s chocolate lovers at an emotional level. This is illustrated by our recent ‘Through the Ages’ TVC, which reinforced Whittaker’s 120–year history in New Zealand, by featuring Nigella in different decades.

We also selectively use other traditional mediums, such as point of sale and billboards, but digital and social media is a critical part of our overall marketing strategy. It allows us to genuinely connect with Whittaker’s chocolate lovers, and to maintain engagement in ways that other mediums can’t.

We have the top FMCG Facebook page in New Zealand and have been globally recognised for best practice in Instagram (36.2k followers) and are also active on Twitter and Snapchat. In Australia, we mainly focus on Facebook and have an audience of 149,000.

What’s your marketing strategy for Australia?

In New Zealand we are very established and have 100% distribution, whereas in Australia we are still building our distribution channels, as is reflected by our recent launch into Coles.

The implications of this from a marketing strategy perspective are that in Australia our marketing is mainly concentrated on digital. In New Zealand, while most of our campaigns are social media–led, we also use TVCs and other media channels to achieve maximum reach.

Ultimately though, we fundamentally take the same approach in both markets. That is, to focus on the quality of our chocolate and to be authentic and build genuine engagement with Whittaker’s chocolate lovers.

What is your most recent ad and campaign?

Our most recent campaign was for Whittaker’s newdropship online products — dark salted caramel and creamy caramel, which included a ‘Through the Ages’ TVC fronted by Whittaker’s brand ambassador, Nigella Lawson.

Tell us about some of your biggest campaigns:

Our biggest campaigns have been those that have featured Nigella Lawson such as last year’s ‘Nigella…I Was Just Passing’ and this year’s ‘Through the Ages’ campaign. Our new caramel products, have been one of our most successful launches in the history of our company. We have also seen great success from our 100g New Zealand Artisan range.

What are the challenges with confectionery marketing?

The speed of execution is one of our biggest and most consistent challenges. As Whittaker’s marketing manager, I’m involved in the whole process from wholesale watches china product development through to campaign implementation, and there can be a lot of things on the go at once. In the past year alone, Whittaker’s has launched many new products, product extensions, a new Whittaker’s retail presence in Auckland International Airport, and there are still some further new things to announce before the end of this year.




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