The Fidorka chocolate biscuit is a Czech classic. Launched in the 1940s, it was for many years one of the few chocolate biscuits available under communism. But with the return of democracy in 1989, it faced intense new competition, and the brand shrank to a single-digit market share. More recently, the economic crisis hit the Czech confectionary market hard, putting even more pressure on sales. By 2011, Fidorka was struggling.
Part of the problem was that there was very little differentiation in the category, with many competitors positioning themselves in the same space as Fidorka: indulgence. And in truth, some of these competitors were more credible as indulgences. They had the advantage of exotic foreign heritage, stylish product formats, and simply of being new and exciting. Fidorka, on the other hand, was homegrown, familiar, and a rather childish round shape. The brand knew it couldn’t win on indulgence. It was time to do something different – something that shook up the category, reminded people why they love Fidorka, and made the brand an icon again.
We realized that Fidorka’s weakness – being a decades-old brand from the communist era – was also its strength. The product is truly a part of Czech culture, and people have many affectionate memories of it. For instance, because it is round and wrapped in shiny foil, there is a tradition of tying a ribbon to a Fidorka biscuit and pretending it is a medal. Research revealed that based on rituals like these, people associated Fidorka with family games and childhood fun. Just holding a Fidorka biscuit made people feel like a playful child again.
The strategy crystalized when Starcom spotted that the Czech word for “round” (kulatý) is similar to the word for “mischievous” (vykutálený). They decided to position Fidorka as an inspirer of mischief. Not only was this based on insight into Czechs’ true feelings about Fidorka, it was also an appropriate strategy for a recession-weary population who needed a few laughs and a release from stress.
To launch this “Inspirer of Mischief” positioning, there were two things the brand needed to do. One was to provide people with tools and inspiration to play some pranks on their friends. The other was to get the ball rolling by playing a few pranks themselves. A key way was by using media in mischievous, subversive new ways.
Fidorka’s first prank used television in a way no brand in the country had ever done before. The campaign launched on April Fool’s Day on the second largest commercial TV channel, although people didn’t realize it at first, because they were too busy wondering why their TV wasn’t working. In fact, the campaign had “switched off” the signal, by transmitting ten seconds of static in the middle of Fidorka’s commercials. And they didn’t do it just once – they did it 39 times throughout the day. Like all the best pranks, this was quite a challenge to execute, due to the channel’s fears that viewers might complain or switch channel. But it gave a quarter of the entire Czech population the chance to enjoy Fidorka’s mischief.
The brand’s next prank also broke new ground in media. They invented and patented a completely new in-store technology, in order to play a prank on shoppers. When people in Tesco stores reached out for a Fidorka product, they got a surprise – the shelf sensed their movement and spoke to them, with funny messages to congratulate them for choosing Fidorka.
In addition, Starcom teamed up with TV show TopStar to trick celebrities into dressing up in ridiculous costumes, and ran a fake PR campaign claiming Fidorka was going to change shape from a circle to a square. And by creating a Facebook app where people could share prank ideas or play digital pranks on their friends, Fidorka encouraged consumers to make some mischief of their own.
The Czech people loved the campaign, giving the brand 40,000 YouTube views and enough Facebook likes to make Fidorka the 7th biggest food and beverage Facebook page in the Czech Republic.
Most importantly, the campaign achieved amazing business results. Sales of Fidorka – previously falling – increased by a huge 10%. In Tesco stores, the talking shelves drove up sales by an astonishing 95%. And all this while the category was actually declining. The innovative, high-impact, and tightly focused campaign allowed Fidorka to buck the negative sales trend. By the end of the campaign, Fidorka had achieved the highest market share in its post-communist history, and was restored to its status as a Czech icon.