Kraft banks on Crispin Porter for Milka – could this be a sign of things to come for Cadbury too?

Kraft’s decision to switch the global Milka account from Ogilvy to Crispin Porter + Bogusky is being seen by some as a dry run for the rest of Kraft’s chocolate business, which also now includes Cadbury of course.

Milka was acquired by Kraft in a previous, 1990 swoop on the European chocolate business when it bought Jacobs Suchard and it remains primarily a continental European brand. So Crispin Porter (now sans Bogusky, in person at least) doesn’t look the obvious home for it although the agency now has a branch of its ‘advertising factory’ in London’s fashionable Smithfield area.

But Kraft’s European chocolate business is being rapidly Americanised as the current exodus of top Cadbury executives clearly shows. UK chocolate queen Margaret Jobling is departing for Birds Eye just a couple of months after taking over from highly-regarded marketing director Phil Rumbol. My chum Stuart Smith has the gory details here.

But is it right to see the appointment of Crispin Porter as part of an Americanisation process and does it matter? Kraft is, after all, an American business. The old Cadbury did roughly half its business in the US. Ogilvy, the losing agency, is headquartered in New York although it has a big and established network in Europe too. Crispin Porter is a strong agency with a track record in handling much bigger brands than Milka. Microsoft has just entrusted it with the launch campaign for its bet-the-house Windows 7 phone.

Maybe Kraft just decided this ‘the secret is Alpine milk’ whimsy from Ogilvy confines the brand too narrowly to cowbells and strudel:

But the big business at stake surely has to be Cadbury. It’s a lot bigger than Milka, is a true global brand and is driving Kraft’s global growth.

Creative duties have just switched from the Fallon part of Saatchi Fallon to the Saatchi bit following the departure of the adventurous Rumbol (who commissioned the famous ‘gorilla’ ad) and the unfortunate submission by Fallon of a Cadburys Flake opus from famous director Jonathan Glazer which featured a randy devil and his harem.

The ad, which was never broadcast, seems to have been removed from the ether too, alas.

Such fun and games won’t have gone down too well at Kraft (or indeed Cadbury) and may even have had something to do with the departures from Saatchi Fallon of Fallon UK founders Flintham and Green to set up their own agency. They’ve been joined by Phil Rumbol too which may mean….

Steady on, this is all getting too conspiratorial even for me.

What no-one can deny is that the Kraft/Cadbury story is still running and agency alignments are playing and will carry on playing a big part in it.

In the meantime let’s wait and see what Crispin Porter (which doesn’t hang about) comes up with for Milka.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.