Cadbury Sponsorship of Coronation Street

Coronation Street and Cadbury's Chocolate

Ever since broadcast sponsorship was permitted on British Television the question had been asked who will sponsor "The Big One" - Coronation Street?

During 1996 there was much rumour and speculation as to who would be bold enough to put their name to the biggest broadcast sponsorship opportunity in the country. Coronation Street is the most watched programme on UK Television; it has a 35 year pedigree and reaches more than 15 million households. Although a number of possible suitors were mentioned it was Cadbury who came forward with a £10 million package to create a sponsorship which has set the benchmark for broadcast sponsorship in the UK.

The initial development of the project was through Carat, Cadbury's media buying agency as part of their response to the problem of increasing cost of television advertising. The sponsorship of Coronation Street allows Cadbury to stand out in a cluttered confectionery market harnessing unique Cadbury brand values and positioning that competitors cannot match.

The opportunity has been taken to align two of the nations favourites and leaders in their own market giving an unprecedented and immensely cost effective viewership reach over 52 weeks of the year. The media package was brokered between Carat and Granada Media Sales. Mick Desmond Chief Executive of Granada Media Sales said "we commissioned extensive research to identify the best fit between the programme and brand and I am very pleased that the perfect balance has been struck between the integrity of the programme and the commercial expectations of the advertiser".

Coronation Street Cadbury Scene
A key focus for both sponsor and programme maker was the creative quality of the on-air credits. Rarely has any piece of commercial communication been exposed to such a large audience with such frequency. The Cadbury credits had to be memorable, impactful without creating wear out Cadbury retained Blair Kremple's Sponsorvision who commissioned Bark Films and Aardman Animation (famous for their Wallace and Gromit films) to create a "chocolate" interpretation of Coronation Street with animated characters who have become almost as familiar as the Coronation Street stars themselves.

Triangle Communications devised two interactive sales promotions which allowed purchases of Cadbury bars to match special symbols on the inside of the wrapper with symbols or lotto numbers that appeared in the Cadbury Coronation Street Credits. The first of these promotions entitled "Watch and Win" was massively successful for Cadbury and gained five awards at the Institute of Sales Promotion including the Grand Prix Prize.

Public relations and editorial promotion of the sponsorship package were handled by Charles Barker BSMG working in conjunction with both the Granada and Cadbury Press Offices. "This has been a classic exercise in integrated communications and the close liaison of all agencies with client and broadcaster has been central to the project" said Steve Gebbett, Managing Director of Charles Barker Marketing.

Specialist media services were provided by Barsby Rowe Media Consultancy which has continued to advise on the cost efficiency and viewership of the campaign while helping Cadbury to fully exploit the huge volume and range of audience exposure that Coronation Street sponsorship provides.

Coronation Street appears on a regular basis four times per week with typical audiences of 15 million. In addition to credits featuring the Cadbury chocolate "Master Brand" the credits also feature brands such as Cadbury Creme Egg, Roses, Time Out, Crunchie, Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel and Milk Tray. A Cadbury spokesman confirmed "We remain delighted with our Coronation Street sponsorship. We will continue to ensure that we give full and ongoing attention to the quality of the credits to minimise wear out and to reflect our commitment to the millions of viewers who watch Coronation Street every week".

The final word should perhaps go to Millward Brown; specialist Monitoring Agency commissioned by ITV to provide independent feedback on all sponsorships on Channel 3. Millward Brown confirmed that Coronation Street was "the most favourable sponsorship relationship researched to date". This would seem a fitting judgement on a very successful piece of marketing activity, which has only been possible through the combined efforts of so many individuals and agencies.

Based on an article by Jonathan Gee, in Sponsorship News. Used here by kind permission of Cadbury