Promoting a brand on the back of having a Fairtrade mark can strike a chord with receptive consumers but limit appeal to a wider audience, as Divine Chocolate has discovered.

The feedback from one such campaign was that “we made people sit up and think but we didn’t make them want to eat the chocolate,” CEO Sophi Tranchell told Marketing Week.

Accordingly the brand has changed its strategy and is now at pains to “single-mindedly remember it is selling chocolate”.

That doesn’t mean ditching all that has gone before – in a world where authenticity and brand purpose have a role to play, Divine has a good story to tell, being 44% owned by a Ghanaian cocoa farmers’ co-operative with profits going back to them.

But it does mean changing the language and framing that might have been used earlier. “The farmers aren’t people who are beneficiaries of our benevolence and they aren’t poor, helpless people,” explained Tranchell.

“Even saying the word ‘help’ makes it sound as if they need our aid. It’s about how they become protagonists in the story and [we do that] by saying their names, using beautiful photography and highlighting their stories. It is a shift from benevolence to empowerment.”

She was also critical of moves by the likes of Cadbury and Sainsbury to set up their own ethical trade schemes.

“It is inappropriate for big corporations to mark their own homework, which is sort of what they’re wanting us to believe,” she said.

“It’s very important to have third-party verification and Fairtrade, among a proliferation of ethical marks, is the only one that’s saying ‘actually those people in developing countries need to be paid properly if they’re going to have better lives and invest in their communities and their future’.”

It is, she added “the Ronseal of certifications. It does what it says on the tin. It pays people properly and it lets them make decisions about the extra money they get and that’s as important now as it was 25 years ago.”

Sourced from Marketing Wek; additional content by WARC staff