Cadbury to Overhaul Under-Fire UK School Sports Promo

04 December 2003

Amid mounting pressure on food marketers, Cadbury Schweppes is to revamp its controversial Get Active UK school sports promotion.

For the 2004 phase of the scheme, the food and drink colossus will stop distributing tokens for schools to collect and swap for sports equipment -- the most criticised part of the promotion.

Cadbury unveiled Get Active earlier this year, hyping it as an opportunity for more children to take part in sports. However, the scheme -- and in particular the collection of tokens from chocolate bar wrappers -- came under immediate fire from teachers, the press and food bodies, who denounced it as little more than a plot to get children to buy even more chocolate [WAMN: 30-Apr-03].

For example, the Food Commission calculated that a 10-year-old child would need to play basketball for ninety hours to burn off the calories ingested by eating enough chocolate to acquire a Cadbury’s basketball.

In response, the company argued that tokens did not appear on its more child-oriented chocolate bars, and that the scheme was designed to encourage brand switching rather than raise overall consumption. However, such subtleties were largely drowned out by the chorus of disapproval.

With food marketing now under intense scrutiny, Cadbury has decided not to risk similar opprobrium next year. It will persevere with Get Active, though how it will link its products to the sports activities has not been revealed.

"We recognise that the token collection scheme distracted from a great activity programme, which had the support of four out of five parents," commented Andrew Cosslett, Cadbury's managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "So we are reviewing the plans for next year, but will carry on with our commitment to the activity, which remains a crucially important issue in the prevention of obesity."

Sports equipment worth up to £9 million ($15.6m; €12.9m) will be given to schools as a result of the promotion.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff