Chocolate for change: Lessons from marketing Tony’s Chocolonely

Jo Lane, Chief Product Officer of Tony's Chocolonely
Transcript (automatically generated – may contain errors) Speaker 1: Good morning, everyone. It’s so lovely to see you here today. Thank you all so much for taking the time. I hope you’re smiling on the inside and the outside. I’m just going to really enjoy this hour. Thank you, everyone, already, for popping in the […]

Transcript (automatically generated – may contain errors)

Speaker 1: Good morning, everyone. It’s so lovely to see you here today. Thank you all so much for taking the time. I hope you’re smiling on the inside and the outside. I’m just going to really enjoy this hour. Thank you, everyone, already, for popping in the chat where you’re watching from. We’ve got Nicole with capital letters saying, Hi, Joe, which is wicked. We’ve got Zoe in Reading. We’ve got Gabby in Edinburgh. Anya in Brighton. Julia in Liverpool. Billy in Bedhampton, which I’ve never heard of before. Hi, Billy in Bedhampton. It’s so lovely to see you all today. Sam, no, I am not in my PJs today. I’m in my shorts. The weather is lovely. If you haven’t already, do change your chat feature over to everyone so everyone can see your messages. Hopefully, you’ve got some instructions on your screen right now. You’ll be able to head over to your chat feature. You’ll see a little toggle. If that presently says hosts and panelists, click that, switch it over to everyone. Then everyone can see your messages throughout the duration of today’s session. Hopefully, that makes it nice and easy. We’ve got Gert in Brussels, who I can see has just done a host and panelist comment. Plenty more folks with folks in Coventry. There we go. Very lovely to see you all. Today’s speaker is the very amazing Joe Lane, who’s the CPO and former CMO of Tony’s Chocolonely, one of my favorite brands in the world, with Joe embodying all of the good things about it. Today’s session will focus on Joe’s lessons on being part of the team who grew Tony’s, in addition to how Tony’s relates the idea of doing good in the world to a wider marketing function, which I’d like to think that most of us would like to do, but inevitably is quite challenging. Actually to reflect on this will be a really fascinating session. Today we’ll function with a presentation element, and then we’re going to have plenty of time for Q&A. If you want your questions answered, don’t forget to use the Q&A function. That’s found down below in your little taskbar area. Press the Q&A function and you can ask your questions in there. Likewise, if a question that you like, be sure to give it a thumbs up. That will mean that you’re able to make sure that we prioritize certain questions in today’s session. I can see Rob over in Bourneville. I don’t know whether that’s controversial for you, Joe, but like, let’s not get some fights going straight away. Today’s feature sponsor is Cambridge Marketing College. They’ve been fabulous sponsors of the Marketing Meetup right since day one. Cambridge Marketing College, if you want your marketing qualifications in both like CIM, CIPR, but also marketing apprenticeships, then they’re a fabulous place to go to. A lovely thing that Cambridge Marketing College are also doing right now is that they really seem to be doubling down in the sustainability space. With everything that we’re speaking about today, we’re doing good with marketing, then Cambridge Marketing College really are trying to do a lot more of that sort of stuff. If you’re interested in sort of sustainability marketing or get your marketing qualifications, be sure to check them out. Also, a big thank you to our other sponsors who will be featured in alternating weeks. They are Redgate, Exclaimer, and Frontify. You’ll get a follow-up email after today’s session. The only thing I could ask is that you take a moment to thank the people from behind those brands. Ultimately, without our sponsors, we’re unable to bring these sessions to you, and they’re always good fun. It would be nice to continue to be able to do that. With all that said, that’s my introduction done. Joe, it’s over to you. Thank you so much for taking the time. You’re just an absolute legend.

Speaker 2: Hi, everybody. Thanks, Joe. It’s absolutely a pleasure to be here. I’m excited to talk to you all and talk to you all about chocolate and our mission. Can my screen, Joe?

Speaker 1: All good.

Speaker 2: All good. Brilliant. Great. Yes, I’m going to kick off with a very short presentation. I’ve probably only got 15 minutes or so of slides, and then we can have a good natter at the end. Yes, this is the start. Hi, everybody. I’m Joe. Where am I at the moment? I am in sunny Cambridge. I saw someone else was in Cambridge as well. The sun is shining, which makes the change. I’ve been at Tony’s for nearly three years. Before that, I was at Innocent Drinks. I started my marketing career with a purpose-led brand. I was there for about 15, 16 years in the end. Innocent and Tony’s is where I learned my craft. I’m here to talk about Tony’s to start with. We are crazy about chocolate and serious about people. We make amazing tasting chocolate, but we have a really serious mission at our hearts. That’s where I want to start today. I’m going to tell you a little story, a story about chocolate, about change, about choices. Oh, now I can’t move my slides. There we go. Seamless. Right. First things first. Tony’s Chocolate Only is an impact company that makes chocolate, not the other way around. Everything we do is about making impact, about making a difference to the cocoa farmers and their families in West Africa, about doing business the right and the fair way, and speaking out boldly when that doesn’t happen. It guides all of our choices. Let me talk to you about where it all starts first. It starts with growing cocoa. Cocoa grows on cocoa trees. Those cocoa trees grow best around the equator where it’s really hot. The majority of all cocoa nowadays is grown in West Africa. You can see on this little chart there, you can see the country is on that West Africa tip. There’s all going on small farms. There’s no big, massive plantations. They’re all family run farms. They’re about one to two hectares in size. There’s millions of them. There’s about two and a half million of these cocoa farms. On the other end of the value chain, there’s billions of consumers. You, me, Joe, everyone who likes chocolate just for what it is like a delicious treat. In the middle, there’s only really a very small handful of big chocolate companies that actually produce chocolate from those cocoa beans. There’s not more than about 10 companies worldwide that produce 90 percent of the chocolate that the whole world enjoys. That means that all the power and all the profit sits in that middle section. We call it that sideways hourglass. It’s in the interests of these big companies that the price of cocoa stays low, inhumanely low. If, for example, a bar of chocolate costs about two euros, 80 cents, and this was before the recent inflation, this slide was written, but about 16 cents of that goes to the farmer and his family. That’s about five to six percent of the retail price. That basically means that those farmers in Ghana or the Ivory Coast in West Africa, whether supporting their whole family from this cocoa farm, have about 72 cents per person per day. That’s way below the extreme poverty level for a country like Ivory Coast. What does that extreme poverty mean? It means that adults who are running these farms have to rely on their children to work on the farms. They can’t afford professional labor. They can’t afford machineries to work their farms. They use their children. The latest reports show that there’s over one and a half million children working on cocoa farms. If you remember those two and a half million farms that I talked about, that means that over one in two households in Ghana and Ivory Coast have used their children on their farms as their permanent labor source. This isn’t just kids coming home from school and helping mum and dad on the cocoa farm for a couple of hours after school. That would be fine. This isn’t that. This is them working all day long, dangerous forms of work. Using machetes, dangerous and sharp tools, spraying pesticides, working long hours in the searing equator heat. I was there in January. I tell you, it is absolutely sweltering. They’re lifting extremely heavy loads, 60 kilogram bags of cocoa beans on their back. They’re not in school. This child labor is it’s horrible. It’s really pressing and it’s caused purely by poverty and the price that is paid for cocoa. You’d have thought that there’s only those handful of companies in that middle bit, the middle of the hourglass that control all that power and all that profit, that it should be easy for them to get together and fix it. Yes, and actually in 2001, there were two American senators, Senator Harkin and Senator Engel, who thought that way. They set up the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which was aimed at eradicating the worst forms of child labor from cocoa in five years. That Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed by all the big major cocoa players and all the big chocolate firms. You think, hallelujah, we’re there, sorted. Unfortunately, it was non-binding and it required all of these big cocoa industries and chocolate companies to regulate themselves. They did nothing. Here we are. A few years later. Back in 2005, this is where Tony’s starts to start to the story of where we came from. There’s a Dutch TV show. It was called Food Unwrapped. It was a bit like it’s like an investigative journalist program with a guy called Turn. Remember that name? Because that’s where Tony comes from. They look at the truth behind food marketing and some of the shady stories in food supply chains. He was looking into chocolate. He was shocked that in five years after the Harkin-Engel Protocol had been signed, nothing had changed. Even worse, there hadn’t even been anything to trigger or drive or start a change process. Turn tried to talk to all these chocolate companies to make a story for his television program. Surprisingly enough, they didn’t want to talk to him about the child labor in their supply chains. He had another idea. He bought himself 10 different branded chocolate bars from 10 different companies so that he was sure somewhere in that value chain of those 10 chocolate bars there would have been child labor. He put the video camera on himself and he filmed himself eating a bite of each of those 10 bars. He then took that video and turned himself into the police, saying that he was a chocolate criminal. He had knownly consumed chocolate that had used child labor and they should arrest him. They didn’t take him seriously. He didn’t stop there. He hired himself a really expensive lawyer and he sued himself. He went to trial. He went to the Dutch courts and obviously all the newspapers were writing about him. It was all over the press. The judge at the end of this lengthy trial said, well, actually, Tim, morally, you are right. If I prosecute you, I have to prosecute everybody in the Netherlands who’s ever eaten chocolate. That’s impossible. The case got thrown out of court. What Tim decided to do then was to set an example. He created 5000 chocolate bars in an alarming red packaging when all of all of the chocolate in the Netherlands was blue. He was zigging when they were zagging. He used only cocoa beans that he could trace back to cocoa farms that he was sure didn’t have child labor in. Tony’s Chocolate Lonely was born. Tony’s is the international name for Toon and Chocolate Lonely for his lonely battle in the chocolate industry. Tony’s growth over the last nearly 20 years has been built on this principle. This year will be nearly 200 million in revenue. We still work so closely with every single farmer that we source our cocoa from and pay a higher price that we are still eradicating child labor from our supply chain. We’ve got the data that shows that it’s working. If you’re looking for child labor, the industry average is this pie chart on the left hand side of the screen. Just under 50 percent. I talked about, one in two children in cocoa farms in West Africa are working on their farm day in, day out. Where we source our cocoa from and the cooperatives that we’ve been working with for a number of years and we’ve implemented our five sourcing principles, we see child labor rates of below four percent. Doesn’t mean it’s zero, but we actually think that’s a good thing. It means that we are finding those children. We’re helping them. If you can’t look for it, you can’t find, you can’t help for it. You can’t help it. This is our strategy on a page. That yellow button there is the stamp that goes on all cocoa that we source. You can see it on our chocolate bars just here. It says together we’ll end exploitation in cocoa, which is our mission statement. Then we’ve got our three pillar strategy. Creating awareness, because ultimately that’s the first thing, that’s the first thing we do, because ultimately we’re convinced that when consumers and customers start asking and understanding what’s in their shopping baskets and on their shelves and start demanding fairer chocolate, the chocolate producers themselves, those big companies in that middle of the hourglass, are going to feel the pressure to take responsibility. The second one is that we lead by example. We want to set the right example and show that amazing tasting chocolate can be produced in a different way. The third one is inspiring to act. We, despite our amazing growth, we’re still tiny in a very busy, huge chocolate category. We aren’t going to solve this problem on our own. We need to do it together. We want others to take action. We quite honestly welcome anybody to blatantly follow, copy, or even improve on the way that we do it. That our mission is the heart of everything we do and drives every little decision across the whole business and across our brands. I’m just going to give you a couple of examples of how that comes to life. The first thing is our design. We incorporate the message about inequality and cocoa in everything we do. This is the most obvious example. For centuries, chocolate bars were made in boring little square blocks, like an Excel spreadsheet, I guess. Quite often with the name of the producer on each piece, there’s Cadbury’s, there’s Milka. Really boring, really obvious. No market research is ever going to tell you that you should break that category code, that you should do something different. We did. If you were to open, I don’t know who’s got chocolate here at 7 to 10 in the morning, I’d be quite impressed. If you were to open a Tony’s chocolate bar, you’ll see that every single bar we’ve got has unequally divided pieces. They’re not in squares. They’re all different shapes and sizes. That reflects the inequality in chocolate. Therefore, our chocolate bars tell our story in its purest form. They become a, upside down, they become a discussion piece when you unwrap it with friends. I know it is also annoying to any parents of multiple children anywhere trying to share chocolate equally. Until the chocolate industry is equally divided and the profits and the power are shared equally across that value chain, we’re going to keep things unequally divided. The other thing that our mission drive is really our supply chain. I touched a little bit earlier on our sourcing principles. We’ve got five of them. They’re our recipe. They’re our rules for how, if you implement all of these five things, how you can eradicate child labour and exploitation from your cocoa supply chain. We’ve got the data to prove that it works. Traceability, playing a higher price, working with the farmers, making sure you’re signing up for long term deals and then helping them improve the quality and productivity of their farms. Those five things together are what get you the results. We know, as I mentioned before, that we can’t do it on our own. We have an arm of our business. It’s called Tony’s Open Chain. It’s a website, it’s a platform, it’s a supply chain and it’s completely open book and it shares our secrets. It shares our sourcing policy with anybody who makes chocolate and anybody who buys cocoa. It shares our formula. It tells you exactly how we do it. Rather than keep that USP a secret, because our purpose is to eradicate exploitation, we know we need other people to copy it and we need them to work together. We’ve opened everything up. If any chocolate company or anybody who buys cocoa wants some help to do it, because let’s be honest, it can be quite complicated, we’ll do it for them so they can join Tony’s Open Chain. They can become a mission ally and we source their cocoa for them and then they can put that yellow stamp onto their packaging. That in itself has opened some amazing marketing doors. Last year we partnered with the legends of Ben and Jerry’s because they realised that our cocoa sourcing policies were gold standard and better than even Unilever, who owns them, could do. They joined Tony’s Open Chain and they, for the next five years, have committed to sourcing all the cocoa that goes into their rice cream through Tony’s Open Chain. Of course, we thought we’d better tell people about this. We ran a big marketing campaign. We can’t leave Ben and Jerry’s to do it together. It’s called the Chocolate Love Affair. The tagline, better when working together to make chocolate 100% slavery. We launched complimentary MPD. Ben and Jerry’s launched ice cream using our, inspired by our milk caramel sea salt best selling flavour. We launched chocolate inspired by Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheesecake. That’s the one I was just, no, it’s not, don’t have it with me. That was all down to our mission, being able to partner with an amazing brand like Ben and Jerry’s and then use the power of that story to bring it to life. Then talking about companies, what else is our mission triggered in terms of creative and ideas? It also drives our marketing campaigns. These are a couple from this year. On the left hand side, you can see our MPD launch. We launched Little Bits, which are bagged chocolate. You can see here a window in Whole Foods Kensington, which we took over. We wrote the word balls and we wrote the word exploitation on a posh shopping street in London. Then on the right hand side, you can see, I don’t know if you saw it recently, it was only, it was only, gosh, it was half term. We did a campaign in Germany called Sweet Solutions. We decided that we would copy the big chocolate companies in their products until they copied us by paying a higher price. We launched four chocolate bars and caught replicating some big competitors and we’ve replicated flavors and replicated wrapper designs. You can see them at the bottom of that. You can see a Twix and you can see a Ferrero and you can see a Kit Kat. We did all the legal checks to check we weren’t doing anything particularly naughty. However, Mondelez got a bit upset about the color purple. They issued us a writ. After a frantic 24 hours, we withdrew the purple bar and we launched a gray bar. You can see the Milka. This used to be a Milka bar and you can see the Milka mountains. Then we just made it gray with a tagline of pay farmers, not lawyers. Quite honestly, that went absolutely viral. It was just it was just in Germany. We spent 200 grand on that total campaign, including all the legal fees. It ended up all over the BBC and the Sunday Times across borders. That’s purely because we believe that all of these big chocolate companies should be paying their should be paying their cocoa farmers a higher price. That’s what triggered. That’s what triggered that campaign idea. Then it also drives our product choices. If you’ve been in any retailer over Christmas, you have seen our enormous advent calendar. It’s too big. It doesn’t fit on the shelves, which makes the retailers a bit cross. The actual interesting thing about it is that it represents the inequality in the cocoa supply chain, just like our bars do. There’s still twenty five chocolates in this advent calendar. One day we put nothing behind a little window. There was no chocolate on another day. We put two. We just spread out the chocolates unequally. We’ve got such amounts of consumer feedback, mostly positive, with people going, wow, you have taught me about inequality. I’m now teaching my children about that. It’s not fair. We also ended up on the second article on the BBC news just beaten by an Omnipong variant. Some pretty cool coverage from launching a rather large advent calendar. Then just to end, before I can open the questions, this is a quote that I really love from Anita Waddick at the Body Shop. If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room. Tony started the Netherlands 19 years ago. It launched in the UK five years ago. We have tiny marketing budgets. The first 15 years of the business, we had a no paid media strategy and all of our reach was through other channels. Just remember, if you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room. That, my friends, is that. I will try and stop sharing. There we go. Super.

Speaker 1: Just incredible, Jo. You may not have seen the chat feature throughout the duration of the presentation, but you have gotten a lot of people saying how incredible that is. Thank you for priming that with that story. Really incredible. You might be able to see it right now. Lots of praise. Folks, I’m going to do something which we don’t usually do, which is I’m going to head to the Q&A from the community more or less straight away, because I know that you’ll have some amazing questions. With that thought in mind, if you want to use the Q&A feature, it’s found down below, and give a thumbs up to the ones which you’d love me to answer so that we can make sure that we prioritize that. While you’re doing that, however, I’m just going to sort of speak to probably the, not the elephant in the room, but certainly something which is a really interesting marketing challenge, which is like, people speak about purpose all the time over here, and then they sort of speak about commercialism over here. They’re always sort of seen as opposites somehow. I guess there are so many different ways to answer this question, but like, I guess I want to make it really open to start off with just a question about how you manage that sort of tension between purpose and commercialism at Tony’s, because presumably you’ve got to do both.

Speaker 2: Yes, and it’s such a good question. The first slide that I started with was about our Crazy About Chocolate series about people, which essentially sums up that tension. We want to make great tasting chocolate that consumers love, but at the same time, we’ve got a really serious mission behind us. I think the beautiful thing about this particular brand is that they are so intertwined, that actually that tension isn’t, doesn’t materialise in the business, particularly, because ultimately, the more chocolate we sell, the more beans we buy, the more impact we make, because they’re so perfectly aligned, that we actually don’t have, we don’t have that much tension between the two, they tend to go hand in hand. I think the only tension, if I’m really honest, the only tension we have is when I touch on Tony’s Open Chain, and it becomes a resource question. Are we trying to, we’ve got a finite amount of resource, are we trying to grow Tony’s Open Chain through having more mission allies and other partners join us, and that impact on the ground? Are we trying to grow our business fast and hard, we want both, and then it’s a choice of which goes faster at which different points. Actually, in this, it’s one of the reasons I chose to join the brand, I just chose to join the business, I just, it’s so powerful and so tightly linked that, yes, I think it’s quite unique in that space. I love that as a lesson, because I think it’s

Speaker 1: one of these things that, once again, sort of speaking about that purposeful thing, so many folks want to work for a purposeful brand or want to do purpose things, but will sort of try and tag it on. Even by implication of everything you’ve just said, it’s like, if you want to do purpose, do purpose, and link it in with everything so that tension point doesn’t occur. Which, is really important. do you have any sense of like, why people buy the chocolate? Is it because of the purpose led thing? Is it because it’s good chocolate?

Speaker 2: Sorry, the second, so it’s like, yes, I think. Chocolate is a impulse led category, you don’t write it on your shopping list, do you? You buy it when you’re at the checkout, or you’re hungry, it’s not a not such a considered purchase. It is done primarily through I want to treat myself or I’m hungry, and I want something that tastes delicious. That is the first purchase driver. Then in terms of how many people understand our mission in that detail that I just talked to, very few. I think we definitely have a halo of we are a food brand, we do we do good in the world. The specifics of what actually that is and what that looks like, that’s hasn’t no matter how pointed we are in our communication. Ultimately, people buy chocolates, it tastes great. That’s why this is it does. the most important thing, it’s got to taste bloody brilliant.

Speaker 1: True. We’ve got Louise in the chat, who’s saying I first bought Chinese chocolate, because I’d heard about the purpose. Then I was completely converted into being the loyal customer because it was absolutely delicious. Slightly inverse.

Speaker 2: I just saw one that said, I do write chocolate on my shopping list. I’m like, I love you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: I want to pick up on one last element from the presentation, because I can see that there’s 35 open questions right now. We want to make sure that we prioritize those, which is that thing about picking and then picking an enemy. I feel like when you sort of have been calling out the incumbent brands and sort of saying, you need to do better and stuff like that. At the same time, you’ve also got a call to action to them, which is join the open chain, and sort of join us. What do the discussions look like internally, sort of like, sort of call folks out versus sort of bringing them in?

Speaker 2: Yes, it’s that. When you talk about tension, that actually is a genuine one. It’s a line we have to tread very carefully on because we do want to work together and we do want to drive wider change, and that does require everybody to join. At the same time, they’re not doing it quickly enough and they’re not doing it well enough. The line that we try to take on that is speed and urgency, because, yes, all of the people who work at these big chocolate companies is, of course, they’re all good humans. I’m sure they all would love to live in a fair, equitable world. They also, in their vision statements, have a similar vision statement of a fair, equitable supply chain and cared for farmers. They’re just not doing it quickly enough and with enough sense of urgency. That’s the point where we that that’s where we can really bite with them. Then the honest answer is come and join us and join Tony’s Open Chain. It’s the likes of Mars or Nestle. They’re not going to join the competitors. They’re not going to join Tony’s Open Chain. We know that if they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it their own way. They should, because they are huge, successful organizations who have the power and the capability to do it well. We can be a bit more provoking with the big guys, whereas the small medium, there’s still a huge amount of those who we can actually help solve it with our with our solution.

Speaker 1: I love that. Thank you. As a as a marketing tactic for folks tuning in, as part of your strategy, picking your enemy can be immensely powerful. Also, to everything you’ve spoken to, drawing that line and figuring it out. I just love how you’ve thought about that. There’s also been a lot of comments in the chat about like the consistency across the products. One final question for me, and I genuinely will get to folks, but you’ve just moved from a CMO to a CPO role, Chief Product Officer role. What’s that transition been like? Because that consistency of the product, for example, the advent calendar, the shape of the chocolate bar and stuff like that, presumably falls under your remit now. Yes, it did originally. I did it as well. Okay, so what was the conversation like about finding those consistency points and making sure that brand goes all the way through the product? Because I think a lot of people would dream of that, not a surface level brand, but like one that goes all the way through. I’d just love to find out a little bit more about that.

Speaker 2: Yes, no, it’s fascinating, isn’t it? The honest answer is when I joined Tony’s, we didn’t have it codified. It was literally this wonderful lady called Ava, who has been Tony’s for 15 years and who made the caramel sea salt flavor on her internship and around. She’s in our product team and it would basically be, does this feel like Tony’s Ava? She’d be like, nah. Oh, yes, let’s do that. Because you remember, we were still relatively small, like it was done through people and communication and gut feel. What we’ve done in the last couple of years, it’s written down what are the product principles and how do we make sure we deliver on that chunkiness and that combination of flavors and how do we build in our mission into either the packaging or the product as many touch points and build in that element of surprise. Yes, we have we now have four or five checkpoints that we go through and we’re developing.

Speaker 1: I love that. As Nell says, interns can change companies, given the right level of trust and support. I also want to just highlight to the community, the growth. I reflect on the journey of TMM and I’m not trying to make this about us at all, but we’ve had many years of doing things about gut and figuring out how to do it. That transition point of just writing down five points as a checklist and sort of saying, are we ticking this off? That’s so accessible to everyone watching it today as like a marketing thing. We often speak about market research and everything that goes with it. At those beginning stages, a bit of gut, goes a long way, which is which is awesome. It’s just lovely to hear because, of course, so many people, the chat feature is ridiculous right now with people just singing praises of Tony’s. It’s clear that you’ve grown to be building something special. That starts from a from gut feel, which is just lovely and passion, doesn’t it? Yes, absolutely. Spot on human stuff. Right. Let’s head to the Q&A from the community, because I’ve been promising that for the past seven minutes. The first one comes from Kirstie. This may have predated your time at Tony’s, but maybe you’ll have some knowledge on it. Kirstie asks, if there was no paid media for the first 15 years, could you give any detail on the tactics that particularly worked during that period of time?

Speaker 2: Yes, of course I can do. The first thing that our bar has been our biggest marketing tool. it’s bright colours, the way it stands out on shelf, the way the unequally dividedness tells a story, how we’ve written on the inside of the wrapper that tells a story that invites people to share it. It tastes amazing. People buy it, buy it again, give it, share it with their friends and share the story behind. Ultimately, just through trial and word of mouth is what’s grown it to start with. At the same time, we’ve done a huge amount of sampling. Tasting is believing. In the Netherlands, they have this thing called, we have it in the UK, but the postcode lottery in the Netherlands is huge. Tony’s bar became a prize, a prize for the postcode lottery. We managed to do a huge amount of sampling because of that. Then equally in the UK, we’ve done a lot of sampling with HelloFresh and some other social media. Again, getting bars into people’s hands has been our number one marketing strategy and still continues to be so because tasting is believing. Then we get the repeat and we get the rareness of the back of that. The other thing that we’ve done, particularly in the Netherlands, as I’ve talked about this, the brand grew up through Toon and his story in newspapers, and that very much carried on with some of the political lobbying that the brand did around fair supply chain practices and around some other a little bit controversial stunt that they did, essentially, got them a disproportionate amount of media. Broadly speaking, it’s been bars in people’s hands through sampling and some media that’s got it to where it is. Just looking, I think also you must have to get how different it looks to, the rainbow colour that puts on the shelf, it’s a real billboard for the brand. I think the visibility that you have in store has made

Speaker 1: a big difference. That’s huge. it’s really, there was a quote from, I think it was a Ritzen article quite recently that sort of said, your product is still your best form of marketing, which, sort of speaks to everything, or at least the first part of your answer there. Interesting with the colours, actually, because the logo presumably is something you consider a distinctive brand asset, if we start in terms such as that. Is the colour palette the same, or do you literally just go, we’re going to find something bright?

Speaker 2: You’ve toppled onto a big project we’re working on at the moment, because we’ve got so many colours, and considering they’re not by colour, so I like the orange one, I like the purple one, we’re quite honestly running out of colours. We’ve got too many shades that are too similar. Yes, so I haven’t even got our red bar, which is with me at the moment. they all look and feel like this, they’re all bright, we hate a pastel. Again, no pastels allowed. Fluorescence, great, big, bold, bright colours, brilliant, no pastels. I’ve forgotten your question, Jo, I started blabbing on about that.

Speaker 1: No, just whether bright colours is your distinctive brand asset, or whether or not, you just pick something, pick something bright and neon.

Speaker 2: No, we started with, the two colours that started with were a milk bar and a dark bar. In the Netherlands, where the brand started, the milk bar was dark blue, and the dark bar was red. That was very much the category code. When Toon developed them, he did the opposite. Red became milk and blue became dark. Those two colours are the, I guess, mama and papa of the product range, and the starter, and everything else is growing from there. Then we now have a six skew core rainbow, which is our six skews that we think should be on every shelf across the world. Then we have a selection of other rotating flavours, or the Ben and Jerry’s type bars, or new introducing to keep that, keep that relevance and newness coming through regularly. Then we’re drastically searching for more colours.

Speaker 1: I’m imagining, like a Tony’s insert colour here, a bit like a Tiffany’s blue, I love it. Let’s take the next question from the incredible Mel Barfield. Mel asks, how do you, how does Tony’s marketing department dance that line between calling out Big Coco and avoiding the wrath of your, of the legal teams?

Speaker 2: We love, so yes, that’s a really good point. It is that tension in the business. It’s not actually with our legal teams. We didn’t have a lawyer until three months ago. We didn’t have, we didn’t have a legal team. Katharina is now getting very close to us. The actual, the actual tension that we touched on a minute ago was between how we can be bold and provocative as a marketing team versus our Tony’s Open Chain team, who are trying to be inviting and welcoming and being together. That’s actually the tension that we have to park that line on. To be honest, we, there’s two things that happen. Firstly, we’re trying to, they were very intertwined, Tony’s Open Chain and Tony’s for a long time. We’re trying to pull them apart slightly as two separate brands, still under the same roof, but so that we can have a different tone of voice and play a slightly different role of this in this story. Then the second answer is it just again comes down to human connection. We’ll come up with an idea that we think is pretty punchy. We’ll run it past the Open Chain team who go an ashen shade of grey. Then we have a bit of a conversation and see how we can soften it or talk more about urgency and time rather than another lens. Then the honest answer is that they are paying the fair price for Coco and there is no way to hide that. We can be really strong and bold and the Tony’s Open Chain team are fine about that. They’re not paying a higher price. Yes, you can shout and scream that from the rooftops. There’s certain topics that we can be really punchy on. We

Speaker 1: stick to those. I love that. I think that speaks to presumably, a sense that you are doing right. Therefore, one of the comments in the chat earlier was like, that’s such brave marketing, but like maybe it doesn’t feel brave to you because it just feels right. Is that a sense within the team or do you feel you need to sort of push the boat out and

Speaker 2: feel a little bit brave? I think sometimes I remember you do have to sometimes feel brave. I remember launching the advent calendar and having it in my diary where on day eight, which for the day, there’d be no chocolate and just thinking, oh, my goodness, how is this going to go? You get that. It’s not every moment you think, yes, we totally nailed this. We’re absolutely on the right side of that line. You still have the. I’ve done all my work, I’ve convinced myself and all the other stakeholders, this is the right thing to do, but I still need to take a deep breath. Yes, 8th of December 2022 is going to be in my body.

Speaker 1: Did you get it? Did you get, did you get a bunch of feedback from folks or?

Speaker 2: Oh, I exploded. Absolutely exploded, yes. I’m like mostly positive and then occasionally just really cross people as well. Yes.

Speaker 1: that’s just interesting. There’s Robin in the chat here who’s sort of speaking about, the bold purpose or the bright, colourful tastiness and stuff like that. Again, it just sort of speaks to everything that hopefully you’ve got across so far, which is that idea that it’s about the chocolate first, and so there’ll be still some people who don’t get it despite the incredible purpose

Speaker 2: behind it. Yes. That’s fine because ultimately they’re still making a difference by buying a chocolate and enjoying it. They’re still making a difference. Those cocoa farmers, if they don’t, I’d like them to know, but if they don’t actually mind and just want to eat the chocolate for good chocolate, happy days, they’re still making a difference.

Speaker 1: Hang on. Love it. We’ve got Amy offering some sympathy in the chat who said, I really felt for you that day. It was hella brave, but I can only imagine the amount of stuff you had to deal with. You had some sympathy right there. Let’s take the next question from Nada, who asks how much of Tony’s marketing budget is allocated to your expected growth and brand building channels versus mission building slash system change efforts. I appreciate this as part of the brand building, but I feel different to classic brand awareness efforts. Hopefully that makes

Speaker 2: sense. Yes. We split it into two things. We put it into brand awareness and issue awareness. What’s growing the Tony’s brand and what’s talking about the problems in cocoa. We broadly have a 60, 40 split with more against issue awareness than brand awareness.

Speaker 1: That’s, perhaps not surprising, but, that’s

Speaker 2: again, the beauty is when you do both, isn’t it? that’s when the real magic happens. There’s been some examples. the Ben and Jerry’s one was a good one when we were, it was talking about, we’re talking about brand awareness, just talking about issue awareness, which is a great product. That was the Holy Trinity of everything. Then we put all of our money into that and we don’t, there is not a lot of money to go around because we pay our farmers fairly, but we’re still trying to be competitive on the shop, on the shelves. There’s not a lot left at the bottom of the P&L, unfortunately. That’s when it all comes together, that’s amazing. We do sometimes have to choose. Are we talking about mission? Are we talking about taste? Are we talking about MPD? What’s our, what’s our comms message?

Speaker 1: Yes. I love that. For anyone interested, there was actually a presentation way back when about how to build a communications plan where the folks from Ben and Jerry’s actually spoke about it from the other side. I’ll link that in the follow-up email because they gave a step by step and showed some examples of how that campaign worked together. Let’s take the next question from Emma. Emma says, the strategy is so well put together and the story is so coherent with what you’re doing and producing. How long did it take to get to this point and do you continuously review this? Good question.

Speaker 2: I’m going to ask the second part first. Do we continue to review it? Yes. I think any strategy needs a re-look at as soon as you learn something new. We’re learning new things the whole time. Yes, we continually, yes, we would continually renew it. Then how long did it get to? I think the, I think it’s evolved quite a lot. the mission’s always been very much part of the brand and that I inherited, I guess. Then how we bring that to life, that has evolved over the years. I said, when I started, nothing was written down. It was all in people’s heads and hearts. Actually trying to translate that into some clear choices and a clear plan going forward has been the biggest thing that I’ve been doing. Just like I said, once we’ve done that, something else happens. We go, oh, Okay, well, we now need to pivot over here slightly. Yes, it never sits still. I think we’ve now got to a place, we’re getting to a place at least, where we’re clear on the golden principles and our big choices. never stays still. if you’ve seen Coco Prices recently, nothing stays still at the moment. No, you were speaking about that

Speaker 1: as a challenge at the beginning. Maybe to loop together the idea of the Coco Prices changing, but also with what you’ve just said about the sort of consistency and people holding it in your head and heart. You’ve been at Tony’s long enough, presumably, to see quite a lot of change. How do you sort of keep that sense of bravery, that sense of agility, for want of a less horrible marketing term, when presumably the organisation is growing and bureaucracy starts coming in and stuff like that? How are you facing up to that particular challenge at the moment?

Speaker 2: Yes, and it’s a really good point. The business is exploding. Our growth is amazing. We do have, we’ve got quite a young team, which means that people at that stage of the career, where they move on quite regularly. We have actually, we had an all-hands meeting last year, and we asked people to stand up if they’ve been in the company less than 12 months. Literally, it felt like the entire room stood up. I was like, gosh, I’ve been here three years, and now I’m one of the old timers. How do you keep, when you’ve got all these new people coming in, how do you keep that bravery, that boldness, that edginess, and that agility? I think it comes down to a couple of things. It comes down to what screening we recruit against. As well as looking for capability in the function we’re recruiting for, we also recruit against what we call a resilient shaper. That is our phrase for people, who we want, who can come in. Tony, when you join it, it’s a bit like a wind tunnel. There is so much going on. It’s so busy, and everything is constantly changing. You have to be that person who can deal with that ambiguity, and deal with that change, and be cool with that. Then also shape. Can you bring your ideas? Can you bring your thoughts? Can you shape into whatever piece of the business is yours? Can you shape that into a better version of what it was before? That’s the screen that we look at when we’re looking for new people to join. Then the second thing is when people join Tony’s, they get really immersed into the brand and the business. They’ll sit down, they’ll come to our product kitchen, they’ll watch it, they’ll make their own chocolate bar with the products team. They’ll sit down with Clink, who’s been part of the brand, the brand director for a number of years, and he will talk to them through what is Tony’s, what isn’t Tony’s, this is how you make it look and feel. We give examples of when we’ve done brave bolds, challenger brand marketing, and hero those moments. It all comes down to people and connection.

Speaker 1: it just seems so healthy. The organisational culture, and I guess I’m relating and got empathy and sympathy for folks who are watching in right now who are like, what? I’ve got a boss who maybe doesn’t understand marketing or isn’t on board with the branding, or we don’t have that consistency across these things. maybe asking this outside of a Tony’s context or within a Tony’s context, as a marketing leading person, how do you sort of work through that journey with folks when you don’t have this consistency that Tony’s quite

Speaker 2: clearly does? Oh, it’s tricky, isn’t it? I think if you’re not the leader in that team, then I think what I do think you can do is to be the leader for the bit that you are. Everybody just wants to do something, whether you’re here or here. I think you can still bring your own professional pride to your work, no matter this size and scope that you have. I guess just because you don’t have that around you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader within your team. I would just encourage everyone not to be disheartened in that situation, but control what you control and own your bit and make sure it’s hot. Then you’ll find that that’s just attractive to other people and you’ll never know the impact that you can have because of that. No, I love that. Mel has popped in the

Speaker 1: jobs in case anyone is looking. Hang on, I love that. Similarly, we’ve got Jade in the chat saying, can we all come and work at Tony’s? I think we’re doing a good thing for the employer brand as much as the brand today, which is lovely. Let’s take one of the questions from the top. A question from Amanda who says, what’s been the reaction of the big players to your challenge to the industry? Is there any collaboration in sight? You’ve spoken

Speaker 2: already. Bondolet issued a bit to us, which we’re not their best friends at the moment. What are we noticing? It comes back to my point of they all agree that’s where we should be heading. They’re just not doing it quickly enough. Have we seen enough action yet? No. The honest answer is no, we’re not seeing enough action for the big guys. What we are seeing is a groundswell of small to medium sized cocoa sourcing companies, particularly off the back of Ben and Jerry’s. That was a real tipping moment where everyone went, wow, you’re the real deal. There’ll be some news coming out in the next few months about some exciting mission allies in the UK, there’s one in the US. We’re starting to see a groundswell from enough of the smaller and medium sized companies that the bigger we get, the more pressure that we can apply. nothing’s happening quickly enough. We’re very impatient. Impatience is good in this context.

Speaker 1: Yes, exactly. It’s genuinely life changing stuff. I wanted to pick up on your comment about Ben and Jerry’s there because that being a tipping point moment, and I guess quite a lot of folks watching in today, will from time to time have these moments where they go, oh, here’s a spot of momentum, that comes out of nowhere. It could be a campaign that works well, or I don’t know, a random shout out from an influencer or something like that. Yes. In Tony’s Towers, what did it look like where you had that moment of realisation that

Speaker 2: this was… We’ve been working on it for so long. It’s one of those things that felt like an anticlimax, but actually came because we’d had so many sleepless nights over it. It was essentially getting… The first part was getting Ben and Jerry’s… They’d come to us and said, we want to learn about Tony’s Open Chain. How do we… How can we help? What can we do together? We thought, brilliant. Then you end up writing, and you’re then working with an amazing brand, but it’s also run by Unilever. You end up with Unilever lawyers who are lovely people, but like really long legal contracts. We got very tied up. It’s a very long, complicated legal contract that took forever to get signed by the right people in the right places. That took us months and months and months. During that time, we’ve been working on the NPD and the brand campaign, because we knew as soon as it was signed, we’re like, well, that will be then our trigger to get this going. Then we had to do the license agreement with Unilever, which again, I’m not a lawyer, and long contracts are not my favourite thing, but I have pages and pages and pages of these license agreements. Anyway, once we finally got all of that locked and loaded, we can then go on with the fun stuff and come up with the flavours and come up with a campaign. That just felt amazing, like announcing that to the world with Ben & Jerry’s and their power and voice, particularly in the US, where we are still a very small brand, was just amazing. To get to work with their marketing team was fascinating. I went to talk to the Ben & Jerry’s board and told them the story I just told you. Yes, it was amazing. We had a big celebration at Choco Central, our head office, because it really felt like a, well, it really was. it was the coming together of two really symbiotic, amazing brands for a really important mission. Just the whole stars aligned. As well as going to consumers and launching these amazing products and talking about why we’re celebrating together from an industry perspective, as soon as someone as big as Ben & Jerry’s backed by Unilever joins Tony’s Open Chain, it gave us real credibility. We were no longer just this annoying mosquito in the room. We then actually had some substance to it. It was a real tipping moment for us as a business and a brand and for our mission. Yes, it’s just

Speaker 1: fabulous. I want to pick up on a chat comment here from Amy, because there’s people applauding it. Amy says, I think businesses need to see that it is possible to do things ethically and turn a profit. The more you can spotlight these other businesses, the more other businesses will see it as possible. I guess as we’re drawing to a close, I’d like to open a really big open question, which is this idea of how we can start to build marketing functions or businesses that feel like it does both. I feel like throughout hopefully today’s session, we’ve touched on all these themes, but if we were to try and bring everything together into a couple of minutes of reflection on how one can both do commercial and also purpose, I’d love to hear your

Speaker 2: open thoughts on that. I love that. I can’t remember exactly, was it Mary who said it, but the way you phrased it was beautiful. Amy, sorry, Amy. My sister’s called Mary, so I was thinking. I think it’s so important and it’s something that we constantly have to remind ourselves at Tony’s, because in order for people to realise how possible this is, they have to be inspired from all different angles. You have to be inspired from doing something good, but also running a successful commercial business, because if you just do one without the other, nobody’s going to copy you. We have this phrase, we’re not a chocolate distribution charity. When something comes up that is commercially stupid, we go, we’re not a chocolate distribution charity. Nobody is going, we’re not going to inspire that wider change. If we’re in that three pillar strategy to inspire wider change, we’re not going to inspire that wider change, be that in the chocolate industry or be that across the world, to be both a good business and a big business, unless you are also a profitable big business. You have to have them both together. It’s tough, but that’s what really drives me, the desire to show that you can be both good and big, not just one or the other. There’s so many movements out there. I’m a massive fan of B Corp, there’s so many amazing brands, and that seems to be getting a huge momentum at the moment. The Better Business Act going, and it’s been trying to get through the UK Parliament. There’s a lot of stuff happening here, but I think it’s so, yes, it’s critical. If we’re going to change the way that we run our world, we have to be able to be both good and successful.

Speaker 1: Beautiful. Thank you, Jo. I really appreciate you speaking to that. I think that’s just a lovely way to bring a close to today’s session. Thank you so much. Wonderful storytelling at the beginning, and likewise for taking the questions from myself and the community. The chat throughout has just been unreal. Thank you also to everyone watching in for such a brilliant session. You’re endlessly appreciated every single week. Yes, you’re just the absolute best. Also, a big thank you once again to our sponsors, just as a final shout out for them today, to Frontify Exclaimer, Cambridge Martin College and Redgate. These sessions don’t happen without these folks, so a big thank you to them. Once again, you’ll get those in the follow-up email. Say thank you, it makes the world of difference. With all that said, we’re back next Tuesday with the Chief Communications Officer for Manchester United speaking all about leadership, no matter your job title, which was in fact one of your answers today, Jo. That was really great. With all that said, thank you very much. Hope to see you next week. Take care, everyone. You’re the absolute best. I hope you have a brilliant day. Take care.