Maltesers were this month named the ‘Brand of the Year’ at the Masters of Marketing Awards, where the brand was praised for “doing well by doing good.” Big praise from the experienced jury, so how did a tiny chocolate ball fight off competition from heavyweights like Amazon and Tesco to claim the crown?
After winning a competition for £1m-worth of free commercial airtime during the 2016 Paralympics, Maltesers has focused on diversity, making inclusivity a pillar of its positioning. Its ‘Look on the Light Side’ campaign featured disabled people in everyday situations discussing awkward encounters at work and in relationships. While controversial (the advert was one of the most-complained about last year), it helped to break down barriers and remind people that we all love and laugh the same.
By making disability the focus, Maltesers gave a true representation of society and sent a powerful message about inclusivity. Customers loved the campaign, with brand affinity reaching an all-time high. The feeling of goodwill helped transform sales too, achieving an 8% uplift in sales while the campaign was live – double what was forecast and ensuring Maltesers’ most successful campaign in more than 10 years.
So will Maltesers’ success kick-start a change in how other marketers handle diversity? Brands have a business and social responsibility to represent society in a positive way, including a commitment to diversity in marketing. There may be a temptation for brands to shy away from uncomfortable situations and ‘not go there’, but it’s no longer enough to just tick a gender or race box.
Maltesers have started the ball rolling by using humour to challenge preconceptions in a way that feels natural, not forced. There is still more to do, but Channel 4 believe Maltesers’ success shows brands that include a more diverse demographic in their advertising will see a sales uplift. Only last week, British fashion chain Jigsaw launched a new ad campaign celebrating immigration.
Maltesers’ campaign was successful because it celebrated the differences and diversity of society. This natural and authentic approach resonated with people at home and showed that consumers want advertising that feels real. We expect to see brands making diversity more of a focus in their advertising in 2018.