Freddo is the brainchild of Harry Melbourne, a chocolate mold maker at MacRobertson Chocolates, who told his boss in 1930 that frog-shaped chocolate would sell better than those shaped like mouse (the original concept). After making a sample and send to management, the marketing manager declared it a winner and history in the shape of Freddo, was born.
Eighty years later, more than 100 million Freddo chocolate frogs in a variety of flavors are produced in Australia each year. On its 80th birthday, Freddo is hopping into cyberspace with a series of interactive stories and games designed to stimulate and educate children to mark the occasion.
Cadbury (who acquired the Freddo rights in 1965), stated: "We designed The Adventures of Freddo as a free website which aims to educate and entertain children in the digital environment, a medium this generation is so familiar and comfortable with, using a more modern version of the cheeky, loveable frog that their parents and grandparents grew up with."
But not everybody is charmed by Freddo. Activists against junk food advertising claim that it exploits loopholes in the self-regulation system to market chocolate to children.
There are currently three codes regulating the advertising of unhealthy foods to children in Australia:
- the Children's Television Standards that are part of broadcasting legislation;
- the Australian Association of National Advertiser's codes on advertising foods, beverages and on marketing to children;
- RCMI, which food companies started in January 2009 Cadbury (NYSE: CBY) admits that Freddo chocolates are part of its "pre-teen" product range, but says that the campaign itself does not feature any chocolate, is educational, and encourages an active lifestyle.
Cadbury’s marketing motives are clear, and include launching Freddo internationally if he breaks sales records at home in Australia and New Zealand.
Cadbury obviously has a very good legal team on board. Since the Freddo character is a Cadbury trademark and there are no chocolate products showing in the animated films, the company does not appear to be breaching any rules in the various codes. Cadbury cleverly doesn’t actively market to children aged 12 (and under) and thus abides by its own action plan registered under the RCMI (Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative).
Kate Watson, Cadbury’s spokesperson claims: "We're marketing to parents. Parents are the gatekeepers. Kids can't go on the website without parents registering the kids.”
Cadbury (and its legal team) must have been pleased when the Australian Senate voted down a bill down that would have banned junk food advertising to children. Our 80-year old amphibian friend broke the mold trice, and for sure will keep on enticing the next generation of Australian kids - with the help of its parent Cadbury.