Short List
Product / ServiceCONFECTIONARY
CategoryA01. Fast Moving Consumer Goods
Idea Creation AKKOMPLICE Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Post Production ALT VFX Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Post Production 2 BANG BANG STUDIOS Melbourne, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Nathan Herbertson Akkomplice Senior Designer
Kenny Hill Akkomplice Founder & Creative Director
Mitch Kennedy The Producers Director
Sara Oteri Akkomplice Executive Creative Director

Why is this work relevant for PR?

Darrell Lea, Makes it Better – a brand platform that couldn’t ring truer than in this demonstration of game-changing original thinking and strategic insight. This work transcends categorization to transform perceptions and fortunes of the Darrell Lea brand. It was so powerful, it gave a giant multinational competitor a run for its money, even prompting it into a public announcement of a commitment to change operational practices. As an ambitious challenger brand, Darrell Lea needed breakthrough work rooted in earned media that would influence popular opinion and disrupt the market, delivering them game-changing awareness and sales growth.


As a brand that’s been around for 90+ years, Darrell Lea is loved by many Australians. In recent years, however, Darrell Lea battled for survival against stiff competition from multinational confectionary giants. Undeterred, Darrell Lea began making a comeback, gaining increased distribution and shelf space in major Australian supermarkets for its new range of block chocolates. The objectives were clear: a creative strategy based on a genuine move to do the right thing that would be progressive enough to disrupt the market (where other palm oil free stories had failed to be noticed). One that would multiply the value of their budget (17 times smaller than the category leader) by inspiring the nation to think about a complex, hidden issue and reconsider their choices. It needed to result in an immediate and significant impact on sales to satisfy the retailers, locking in their support for continued expansion.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

In the year leading up to the launch of this campaign, Zoos Victoria had publicly ejected all Cadbury confectionary from Melbourne Zoo and their other properties due to their unsustainable sourcing of palm oil. In Australia, Cadbury dominates the chocolate/confectionary segment of the market that Darrell Lea is expanding into and there is still massive awareness of their famous “Gorilla” commercial, which had a Gorilla playing the drums to an iconic rock track. By creating the “Darrell Lea Makes it Better” brand film that we did, we were able to put imaginative storytelling at the heart of the PR campaign to capture the attention of the leading news and current affairs partners across all media channels including primetime programs across all major TV networks for credible 3rd party earned media support – crucial for persuading a chocolate loving nation to reconsider its choices.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

As a small player, Darrell Lea had to take a budget 17 times smaller than the category leader and build mass awareness and trial quickly amongst a very broad range of consumers (the confectionary target is one of the biggest). Our key message – that Darrell Lea had become 100% palm oil free – was one that needed an original approach to ensure impact. Others had made similar announcements without much response, so we had to be disruptive. We also needed to gain the support of popular news and current affairs media, independent 3rd party experts and influencers to ensure credibility amongst the Australian public. As a beloved Aussie brand, it would be wrong to overtly denigrate competitors, or to preach to consumers and make them feel guilty about a serious environmental issue. Instead, we had to capture hearts and minds positively to educate and inspire a change of behavior.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

6 months prior to launch, we began laying the PR groundwork – engaging with independent subject matter experts with influence in the environmental space. This included Dr Jenny Grey, CEO of Zoos Victoria, the Australian head of the Orangutan Foundation, leading field researches and Sir David Attenborough. This ensured we got our campaign approach right as a backlash to our story would have been disastrous. We gave the leading news network (Channel 9) the exclusive on Darrell Lea’s move to Palm Oil Free, knowing they would syndicate to regional broadcasts and had the best radio broadcast reach too. We followed up with leading current affairs program “The Project” (Ch10), providing exclusive elements including a first look at the campaign film and access to credible 3rd party experts. We then sent bespoke Darrell Lea rainforest boxes full of chocolate to 50 news outlets and influencers, packed with easily understood information.

List the results (30% of vote)

The work generated an incredible $1.449m earned media in the first 2 weeks (almost 4 x their media spend), including in-depth, quality news coverage during primetime across all of Australia’s major TV networks. The leading current affairs TV show “The Project” created an extensive package with live discussion and original content created by the network in addition to playing our brand film in full, including interviews with credible independent expert Dr Jenny Grey, CEO of Zoos Victoria, who we had already had dialogue with to achieve alignment around the core issue. Amongst consumers, Darrell Lea saw a huge outpouring of support on social media (many saying they would only ever buy Darrell Lea now) and an immediate 53% increase in total sales the following month alone. The major retailers backed the initiative whilst leading business commentators and industry leaders applauded the work (including the Marketing Director or Coles supermarket chain – one of the nation’s biggest and most powerful retailers), thereby enhancing the corporate reputation and value of the Darrell Lea business in the eyes of crucially important investors and retail customers. But the effects extended beyond commercial success, with an important environmental issue brought out in the open for national debate. Web search for “palm oil” tripled in the first week and 8 days after launch Mondelez announced a tightening of their palm oil supply chains to no longer be connected to deforestation by 2025. Not bad for a little confectionary company that just likes to “make it better”.