"Every year we aim to celebrate the return of the Cadbury Creme Egg in a fun way," says Claire Low, brand manager of Cadbury Seasonal Products. This celebration was perhaps needed even more so in 2016, after a year when, according to The Grocer, the Mondelez brand saw Creme Egg sales slump by £6m following a change in recipe.
As a consequence, the planning stages for an eye-catching and headline-grabbing experiential campaign began as early as October 2015, before the behemoth of the Cadbury Christmas campaign had even begun. The concept of a pop-up cafe dedicated to the fondant-filled egg started coming to life in the new year.
"The Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe was the perfect way to epitomise the cheeky brand tone of voice and the irresistibility of our product," says Low. "We wanted it to mark the return of Cadbury Creme Eggs being on the shelf and, in contrast to typical pop-ups, we wanted to keep it open for at least six weeks to give our fans the best chance to visit, while highlighting the limited-edition nature of the product."
Working with experiential marketing agency Jackanory, the brand decided to plant the pop-up in London's West End.
"As it's a slightly unconventional brand, the shop had to reflect the quirky traits of the Cadbury Creme Egg, as well as hit the normal event KPIs of getting great footfall and easy access for all on-site equipment," explains Lucy Gillions, managing director of Jackanory.
"Soho was exactly the right fit - vibrant, unconventional and creative. The shop itself was quite old and rickety, which allowed our creativity to flow and give consumers a great experience."
The pop-up was installed and open for a VIP and press night on 21 January. "Timings were very tight and we had to get a lot though the council to be able to put up pipes outside," Gillions recalls. "Given that it's an old building there were also lots of challenges with materials and access to all floors. We had to build most things on site, which was tricky and meant we had to run a very tight ship."
The final build provided guests with a completely immersive experience across three floors. The first housed a takeaway service where consumers could pick up a Creme Egg toastie - warm chocolate-and-fondant goo served inside two slices of buttery toast - as well as a display of historical Creme Egg merchandise.
The second floor comprised a sit-down cafe, which dished up more unique chocolate serves, while the top floor housed a giant ball pit for adults and children. Further interactive elements, such as a Press for Creme Egg chute and a peephole hidden room, could be found dotted around the space.
Despite the quirky activities on offer, Cadbury made sure its humble egg was at the centre of the activation. Low says: "We looked at the most popular Cadbury Creme Egg recipes created by our fans and shared on social media."
The results, which she called "simple but delicious", included Creme Egg and soldiers, Creme Egg tray bake, and strawberries and Creme Egg.
Pop-up-loving Londoners and fans of the brand were whipped into a frenzy over the cafe thanks to the capital's media. As such, tickets for the experience sold out within one hour, and when the space opened to the public, the queue for walk-ins snaked around the corner. When Event went to press (before the pop-up's final day), almost 8,500 people had walked through the door and around 6,000 Creme Egg toasties had been sampled.
While Cadbury has no plans "at this stage" to revive the concept at a later date, Low considers the pop-up to be an outright success.
"We are so excited to see how enthusiastic our fans have been about the Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe," she says. "We know there is a real passion for the product, and the cafe provided a space for fans to celebrate their love of all things Creme Egg."
Gillions agrees: "I'm in awe of the great British public. Come rain or shine, they've visited the cafe in their droves and queued happily for hours, all for the Cadbury Creme Egg. I love that the cafe has brought people enjoyment - the experience was great to create."
"Cadbury Creme Egg fans are truly passionate about the product, which allows us to be adventurous with our communications and create exciting executions such as the cafe." - Claire Low, Cadbury
"I respect anyone who runs a cafe or restaurant - it's tough. If you make people laugh, have a good time and eat well, you have created a positive brand experience." - Lucy Gillions, Jackanory
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