Anyone for a cup of cocoa down at the Rover's Return?

Consumers could lose out if Cadbury sponsors 'Coronation Street'. Debbie Davies reports
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The Independent Online
Coronation Street credits will soon have a chocolatey flavour if Granada successfully completes its estimated pounds 10m sponsorship discussions with Cadbury. The chocolate manufacturer will, of course, be hoping for increased sales from the extra exposure, but will consumers pick up the bill?

A Cadbury spokesperson said the company would consider television sponsorship as a way of adding value to the Cadbury name. "Brands with added value command a premium," says Richard Frost, Cadbury's head of public relations.

So television sponsorship is a potential vehicle for pushing up prices. Cadbury has already increased sales by selling its Dairy Milk chocolate in 17 different lines. With treat sizes, pocket packs, buttons and bars to choose from, who knows where value for money lies. My local supermarket is selling 200g Dairy Milk bars for the equivalent of 41p per 100g against 58p per 100g for the recently launched 85g Dairy Milk Pocket Packs.

Of course, Cadbury has more to consider than its chocolate business. If the TV sponsorship deal goes ahead, Coronation Street will be the latest vehicle for a brand which already appears on desserts, cakes, biscuits, beverages, ice-cream, toys and liqueur. While no one imagines future episodes of the Street coming from the Cadbury's factory, consumers who buy Cadbury's cakes could be forgiven for thinking they are made by Cadbury. They would be wrong. Cadbury's cakes are manufactured under licence by Manor Bakeries, which also manufacturers Mr Kipling cakes, while Cadbury's desserts are made by St Ivel.

Martin Fisher, lead officer for fair trading at the Institute of Trading Standards, believes the increase in products made by one manufacturer under a name licensed from another is confusing to the customer. "The days when you bought a product and knew the factory it came from are long gone," he says.

It may be confusing for the consumer, but it is highly profitable. Nielsen, the grocery research company, says the brands that have performed especially well in our supermarkets are those which have moved into completely new areas and maintained distribution of existing products - Cadbury's strategy in a nutshell.

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