Brexit followed by a Trump victory. Then, as if 2016 hadn't provided enough shocks, they go and mess with Toblerones.
The internet was ablaze this week with the news that the UK versions of the famous bar have been changed. Actually, to call a Toblerone a bar feels like a disservice. It’s an icon, perhaps even more so back home in the UK than here in its country of origin. Its format is a proven success: a mini mountain range of nutty chocolate that can be broken into individual peaks for a perfect bite-sized portion.
Or at least that was the case.
They thought we wouldn’t notice. It’s an old PR trick. Release a story on the day of a big global event and it’ll be swept to the depths of the paper or below the fold of news sites where nobody will bat an eyelid.
Confectionary giant Mondelez’s announcement that it was downsizing its Toblerone bars in the UK came as the US election reached its climax. But such is the British people’s taste for their chocolate, and distaste for change, that they did notice. And they took to social media in their droves to complain. Mostly because the new bars look really weird.
The reason for this revision? “Higher costs for numerous ingredients” according to the (Tobler)owners.
While such honesty from multinational conglomerates is to be applauded, I do wonder if they missed a trick by not selling the adjustment as a rebrand.
Having recently visited the Matterhorn (more on that soon), I can tell you that the mountain that graces the Toblerone packaging stands out precisely because it stands out. By this I mean it's a striking lone peak, not immediately surrounded by any other – a bit like the new Toblerone chunks. The purveyors of the treat could perhaps have passed the adjustment off as a move to a more authentic interpretation of the Matterhorn’s silhouette?
Failing that, could they maybe have issued a statement claiming that the new Toblerone topography was an educational move to demonstrate that glacial valleys come not just in a V shape, but also a U shape?
It’s a bit late for that now I suppose, and again, I guess we should respect that Mondelez (Tobler)owned up to the real reason for the change.
The good news for me? So far it seems like this is only a UK adjustment – here in Switzerland we can still get Toblerone bars in their classic format for the time being (place your Christmas orders now!).
Though it hasn’t been confirmed explicitly by Mondelez, it is believed that the root cause of the cost issues that triggered this rethink is Brexit. If only the “Remain” camp had highlighted Toblerone downgrades as a possible consequence. The result could’ve been very different.
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.