How Cadbury won the battle of worms?

Brand – Cadbury
Crisis – The Worm Controversy

In October 2003, just a month before Diwali the Food and Drug administration received complaints about infestation in bars of Cadbury Chocolates. Fresh stock of chocolate bars was being shipped out to many outlets across India. Previously another complaint was recorded to the FDA in Pune regarding the same issue. Acting on the consumer complaint the FDA quickly acted upon this and launched an enquiry for the same and ordered the seizure of chocolates bars that are being sold and shipped. 

For the following fortnight every newspaper had the headlines of  ‘Worms found In Cadbury Chocolate’ and every media channel showed the same too.

In their defence Cadbury issued a statement saying that the infestation was not possible at the manufacturing unit it was most likely because of the poor storage at retailers that led to this situation.

Cadbury found themselves in the eye of a storm.

Company’s Response Strategy

Even while the company was under siege, Cadbury made itself accountable as it conveyed empathy to the victims and launched a comprehensive education initiative covering nearly 200,000 of its retailers around the world.

Initially the company’s response may have been too passive. Once the matter escalated, however, Cadbury acted decisively. It immediately suspended its advertising campaign and focused its efforts on educating retailers on safety and hygiene. It kept the media updated through detailed press releases on the specific measures it was taking to correct its manufacturing and storage processes. It also overhauled the machinery and packaging processes of its most popular product lines.

The Comeback Strategy

Cadbury to recover from this incident launched a Project called as Project VISHWAS in order to regain its customers and tarnish the image created by the worm incident. Project VISHWAS was a three-step campaign where Cadbury had targeted the media, retailers and employees.

  • For retailers Cadbury started this campaign as a educative initiative and taught the retailers over the handling and storage of Cadbury Chocolate Bars.
  • For the media Cadbury had assembled an outreach program wherein the spokesperson of Cadbury sat with each and every media editors and answered each of their queries and promised them that Cadbury would also change the packaging for its products.
  • For employees Cadbury took action through meetings and email updates from the directors.

In January 2004 the company launched a new double packaging that covered the whole chocolate bar and keep it safe and fulfilled the promise made to the consumers and media. Cadbury’s revamped packaging of  the metallic poly-flow was costlier by 10-15 per cent, but Cadbury didn’t hike the pack price.

After the company’s infrastructure and packaging had been fixed, Cadbury made Amitabh Bachchan as a brand ambassador for their ad campaigns and resumed its aggressive advertising with Campaigns like – Shubh Aarambh, Raho Umarless and  Kuch Meetha Hojaye!


Within 60 days of the implementation of its new packaging processes, Cadbury’s sales had nearly reached pre-crisis levels. The company announced eight months after the incident that its consumer confidence metrics were back to normal.

Cadbury had the sweetest recovery from the crisis and it continues to lead the Indian chocolate market with over 70 percent market share.

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