Cadbury’s “Mean Tweetshop”: does it work?

Name: Cadbury “Mean Tweetshop” pop-up.

Where: Bateman Street, Soho.

Why is Cadbury giving airtime to critics? Cadbury has launched a plant-based chocolate bar. 

But chocolate connoisseurs are sceptical over this newest launch – even if it is from Cadbury. Plant-based products do tend to split public opinion…

The legendary chocolatier is encouraging critics to – quite literally – eat their words. It includes wrapping on chocolate bars with the most eloquent Twitter-isms like ‘vegan chocolate is vile’, and the shop floor is plastered with similar.

Remember Jimmy Kimmel’s show segment ‘celebrities read mean tweets? It works a bit like that.

Aren’t marketers and PRs supposed to make things positive? Well, yes. But a ‘mean Tweetshop’ is guaranteed to stop the average passer-by in their tracks. It’s less about sales, more about awareness and encouraging those averse to vegan alternatives – especially the most vocal Tweeters – to try some plant-based goodness before they bash away at their keyboards.

It’s hard to set the volume low on negative reactions on social media, with Twitter becoming an increasingly fractious place. And depending on the context, it can be best not to respond directly to the source – if at all. But for Cadbury and celebrities, it’s pretty great PR.

Will other brands copy this tactic? Cadbury isn’t the first brand to twist Twitter takedowns to its own advantage.

Take Ryanair. The budget airline doesn’t hold back in roasting demanding passengers, who tweet them asking about USB chargers on flights. The wit and irreverence of its mysterious social media manager has won over Twitter.

It’s also not always as black and white as affordability. Brands should consider what engages their current audience, what drives positive awareness to new cohorts, and most importantly, the context: is it mocking an issue at a sensitive time?

So know your audience before you start mocking them I guess…

Do say: Vegan chocolate isn’t vile – unless you want to find your tweet on a chocolate bar.

Don’t say: Does Ryanair have USB ports?