My China Diary

Dear Cadbury’s, Please Read The Room

I’m as much of a fan of Cadbury’s as any person, but for me, there’s one PR campaign they continue to run every year that irks me. I have written about the infamous Creme Egg hunt before, in one of its first years of action, because it was quickly met with controversy after avid enthusiasts were caught unwrapping and rewrapping products in stores to try and get their hands on a prize. Unhygienic and problematic at the best of times, so if there was ever a time I thought Cadbury’s would definitely decide against running this campaign, it would be now, in 2021, as the Covid-19 continues to grip the UK and wreak havoc.

Alas, they didn’t.

As reported by a number of national newspapers earlier this week, the Cadbury Creme Egg hunt will return for its fifth year in a row. Only, to celebrate 50 years of the Creme Egg, instead of being white the rare eggs will be golden this time round – and finding one can earn you a cash prize between £50 and £5000.

In total, there are 200 eggs hidden across the country in various shops, from large supermarkets to smaller convenience stores.

Image credit: Delish

Should Cadbury’s Ditch The Hunt?

There was a unanimous belief that 2021 would be better than 2020. And whilst I’m still manifesting, this year has not started off great, with England already being plunged into a third lockdown. It can be difficult to decide which marketing strategies you should be utilising in these turbulent times, and communicating through a lockdown certainly isn’t an easy concept.

However, to me, there are some things that are blindingly obvious.

We’ve been given a clear message that’s likely to last until the spring: stay at home. Though I’m certainly no advocate of the government’s slapdash communications, I cannot argue that this time, the instruction is simple. We are not supposed to head to the shops for anything other than essentials, much less should we be encouraged to pack out supermarkets hunting for eggs. General opinion on social media seems to agree…

Cadbury’s timing was very unfortunate, as rumours began to unravel on Monday about another lockdown, the news broke of their new campaign. Papers begin to cover the egg hunt story around midday, and then our tougher restrictions were confirmed by government address in the evening at 8pm. It’s likely the issuing of the campaign would have been planned before heresay began to circulate, but I think if I had the power, I’d have tried to pull or at least postpone the press release with the possibility of a nationwide lockdown on the horizon. Cadbury have not since retracted their campaign, nor responded to concerns from the public (as far as I’m aware). While I do believe they’re the victim of bad timing, I also think that blissful ignorance plays a part too.

The issue is that their campaign does not match up with Government guidance, and I think it’s fair to say they’re encouraging irresponsible activity.

Of course, it might be assumed that the public can engage in the campaign without adversely breaking rules. Picking up confectionary during your weekly shop is not a crime. However, I am not blind to the fact that in the past, these hunts have cause controversy. From complaints about hygiene on social media, to stories of supermarket staff eagerly tampering with products in order to claim a prize. It would be great to assume that people will play fair, but evidence from previous years suggests they wont. Furthermore, the cash prize is bigger this year, and it’s without a doubt that the population need something to look forward to. These factors are likely to encourage more people to join in, which while great for Cadburys’ sales, does no favours for their reputation.

For me, there’s just too many complications of this campaign for me to consider it a good idea. Not only is the brand spurring people to leave the home which conflicts government advice, but they’re also encouraging poor hygiene practises during a pandemic. We’re consistently told by supermarkets to leave space between shoppers and only touch what we intend to buy. If previous years are anything to go off, I predict that this simply won’t be the case as soon as the ‘hunt is on’.

What do you think? As always, these opinions are only my own and others might have conflicting views. I’d love to hear your thoughts, you can let me know in the comments below, or tweet me.

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