Brand stories

1948 to today: The sweet story of Mondelez India

When we think of chocolates, the first colour that comes to mind is not brown but purple. Interesting, right? This colour has been made iconic by the erstwhile Cadbury India Limited. But they are not just a Chocolate company. Over the years, their portfolio has grown to include various chocolate and snack brands under its brand umbrella. And they are today known as Mondelez India. Their parent company Mondelez International has its presence in over 150 countries across the globe.

On the 72nd anniversary of Mondelez India, let us look at the company’s journey into the hearts of its consumers.

The Beginning of a Sweet Journey

In 1824, John Cadbury opened his first shop next door to his father’s drapery and silk business in the then fashionable part of Birmingham, England. He sold a new sideline – cocoa and drinking chocolate prepared using a mortar and pestle besides tea and coffee. Chocolate milkshakes were a thing back then too. Cocoa and drinking chocolate was considered a luxury and could be enjoyed only by the elite English society even though it had been introduced into England in the 1650s.

John Cadbury, now, wanted to innovate and sell this cocoa and drinking chocolate as a takeaway for his customers.

Mondelez celebrating 72 years

And so, he started to experiment. He knew only if he added sugar that his drinking chocolate would freeze. After experimenting a bit, John Cadbury started selling cocoa and chocolate drinks (with added sugar). These were sold in blocks, and customers had to scrape a little and add it to hot milk or water. He also had a flair for advertising and promotion and published his first advertisement in the Birmingham Gazette in March 1824. See image below. His cocoa and drinking chocolate was considered superior to other chocolates. Given the acceptance his chocolate received, In 1831, he started manufacturing drinking chocolate and cocoa in a small factory. This laid the foundation for the Cadbury chocolate business. By 1842, sixteen lines of drinking chocolate and cocoa in cake and powder forms were sold by John Cadbury.

His brother Benjamin and his sons Richard and George helped him to expand the business. The ideation and establishment of Bournville estate, a model village designed to give the company’s workers improved living conditions. On 4 February 1854, Cadbury Brothers received their first Royal Warrant as ‘manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate to Queen Victoria’, and the company continues to hold royal warrants.

From Cadbury Brothers to Mondelēz International

Cadbury Brothers Limited merged with J. S. Fry & Sons of Bristol in 1919. Then, after nearly 4 decades and a few structural changes, Cadbury limited was established in 1962. The company expanded into sugar confectionery with the acquisition of Pascall Murray in 1964 and had another merger with Schweppes in 1969. It was known as Cadbury Schweppes until 2008 when it was demerged. The drinks business then became Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Cadbury Schweppes became Cadbury. Finally, in 2010 Cadbury was acquired by Kraft Foods. And, In 2011, they announced that the company would split as Mondelez International, the confectionery business of Kraft, of which Cadbury is a subsidiary.

At present, Mondelēz International is one of the largest snack companies in the world with global net revenues of $25.9 billion and net earnings of $3.4 billion as of 2018 and has products ranging from biscuits (cookies, crackers, and salted snacks), chocolate, gum, candy, cheese and grocery to powdered beverage products and strive to empower people to snack right.

Cadbury in India: Mondelez India

Cadbury India was incorporated in India on 19th July 1948. A few months after our Independence. Cadbury House was its headquarters until 2014. Cadbury rebranded itself in 2014 to Mondelez India, which is part of Mondelez International. Mondelez India today operates in categories such as chocolate confectionery, beverages, biscuits, gum, candy and more recently cakes with familiar brands including Dairy Milk Silk, Bournville, 5-Star, Temptations, Perk, Eclairs, Bournvita, Celebrations, Gems, Bubbaloo, Cadbury Dairy Milk Shots, Toblerone, Halls, Bilkul, Tang, and Oreo. Their iconic brand Cadbury Dairy Milk which most of us would have grown up eating is one of India’s most trusted brands as per The Economic Times – Brand Equity ‘Most Trusted Brands’ 2020.

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They are an undisputed market leader in the chocolate category, with over 65% of the market share as per Nielsen with a whopping market share of over 40% enjoyed by Cadbury Dairy Milk alone. Furthermore, Cadbury Bournvita is the second-largest Malted Food Drink (MFD) in India. Over the 55 years, they have been building a resilient cocoa community through their Cocoa Life Program. Done by collaborating with 100,000 cocoa farmers across four states in South India and providing over 3 million seedlings annually. Their National CSR Program, Shubh Aarambh, is continuously working to positively impact the lives of children by driving health, hygiene, nutrition, education, sports, access to clean drinking water, and kitchen gardening spanning across 7 states in the country.

Winning the Hearts of India with campaigns

Cadbury and the Dairy Milk Silk have always been at the forefront of meaningful advertisements that connect emotionally with its viewers. They can make your heart melt while showcasing their melt-in-the-mouth chocolate. Let us look at some of their popular campaigns in India.

Like all the other brands, during its initial years, Cadbury India depended heavily on print advertising.

It was only a few decades ago that it forayed into TV ads. In the 80s, ‘Sometimes, Cadbury’s can say it better than words’ aired on television featured a happy family to spread the message of togetherness.

Better than words

To move away from the association of Dairy Milk with kids and to incorporate adults in their communication; ‘Asli Swad Zindagi Ka’ advertisement was launched in 1994, which showed a young woman dancing on a cricket field enjoying a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. This became an instant hit and remains one of the most memorable campaigns in Indian advertising to date. It even went on to win “The Campaign Of The Century” at the Advertising Club Bombay’s Abby Awards.

Asli Swad Zindagi Ka
The acceptance among the adults

Once the brand gained acceptance among adults, the next obvious step was to increase consumption. So ‘Real Taste’, an extension to its earlier campaign, was promoted through a series of ads that featured a family with ace comedian Cyrus Broacha. It had a catchy new song, “kuch khaas hai zindagi main…’ sung by Shankar Mahadevan, which got the country hooked.

Khane Walo Ko Bahana Chaahiye

Now that Dairy Milk was fairly popular, the brand wanted to associate itself with real ‘Happiness’ and a treat to yourself for your success.

Dil Ko Jab Khushi Choo Jaye
The Worm that ate into the Brand

Even for Cadbury, things were not always rosy. In October 2003, with only a few days to Diwali, Cadbury Dairy Milk went under the radar of The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration following complaints from consumers in Mumbai about worms. The chocolate stocks manufactured at Cadbury’s Pune plant were seized, and for the first time, Cadbury’s advertisements were taken off air for a month and a half post-Diwali.

However, they were determined to retain the confidence and loyalty of its consumers. The company started spending heavily on advertisements and CSR activities like Vishwas. They also imported expensive machinery and revamped the packaging of Dairy Milk with the metallic poly-flow.

In 2004, to bring back the lost faith and to strengthen their position, Cadbury roped in one of the most influential personas in India, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan as their first celebrity ambassador.

Amitabh Bachchan campaign

Then came the humourous ‘Miss Palampur’ campaign that wanted to replace traditional Indian sweets with Dairy Milk during celebrations and festivals. Besides, the brand also wanted to expand its target group to include rural consumers.

Miss Palampur campaign

Cadbury realized the humour connected well with the audience. So they launched another ad that really clicked with the audience called ‘Pappu Paas Ho Gaya’.

Pappu Paas Ho Gaya
The Shubh Aarambh

To incorporate the changing progressive thinking of the younger generation but keeping its traditional roots; the ‘Shubh Aarambh’ advertisement was launched. It is common to hear moms say ‘Kuch Shubh Kaam Karne Se Pehle Meetha Kha Lena Chahiye’ and Cadbury Dairy Milk wanted to replace the sacred ‘Dahi’ that is consumed before embarking onto new endeavours.

Part of your celebrations

Cadbury also became an integral part of celebrations like Friendship Day and Valentine’s Day with campaigns like #RealDosti, #Badhti Dosti Ke Naam, and #PopYourHeartOut.

Friendship Day

Over the years, the brand message has evolved from ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye’ to ‘Kuch Acha Ho Jaye, Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye’ to include generosity. We can see this in the integrated campaign launched by Cadbury Dairy Milk on its 70th anniversary in 2018.

Kuch Aacha ho jaye, Kuch Meetha ho jaye
Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk

A new jingle ‘Kiss me, close your eyes and miss me…’ was a part of the Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk advertisements. Which gained a lot of popularity. It had vivid imagery of the melting chocolate to entice the consumers.

The latest “How Far Will You Go For Love” campaign was initially launched for Valentine’s Day. However, it later became a way to express your love through small and big gestures.

With the onset of the Internet era, Cadbury Dairy Milk partnered with Jio to give 1 GB data free to those who purchase the chocolate with the message of giving it to the needy students who can use it to gain knowledge.

The wrapper that gives

With the changing times, Cadbury Dairy Milk also built a strong digital presence across various social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and keeps its followers engaged through contests and entertaining posts.

The #Thankyou campaign during COVID

Mondelez India partnered with Zee Network and launched the #SayThankYou campaign, which features over 21 artists from across seven Zee channels to express gratitude to the unsung heroes of our lives.


The pandemic and subsequent lockdown saw significant changes in consumer behaviour. As in-house consumption saw a steady rise, Mondelez India entered the cakes segment with Cadbury Chocobakes Choc Layered Cakes. As we have seen over the years, Mondelez India has never shied away from innovating and experimenting with its products and brand communications.

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Let us hope to see more exciting brands from them in the coming years.

The Author

The author of this piece Sruthy Pisharady, a student at IMT Ghaziabad. The piece is, without a doubt, a real treat to the eyes. If you liked the piece, share it with your best friend on WhatsApp. Follow us here if you are looking to see more of these pieces.

Update: Sruthy, the author of this piece, received a token of appreciation from Mondelēz International for this piece, we appreciate the kind gesture!