Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Toblerone and Exotic Dancers

I live in Switzerland so I can’t ignore the 100h Birthday of the most famous and most innovative of Swiss Chocolates: Toblerone.

When I was growing up in the UK there was a memorable, slightly psychedelic, animated ad for Toblerone which had the surreal feel of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”. It was accompanied by a “New Seekers” type song that went

out on its own
Triangular chocolate

that's toblerone
Made from triangular honey by triangular bees

from triangular flowers in triangular trees
a-and *O-O-OH* Mr Confectioner pleease!!

Now that’s effective advertising – I remember the words more than twenty years later. At the time it seemed to make Toblerone out to be a kind of LSD. But then, English ads often carry a second meaning – the copywriters must have been grinning when the got Cadburys to go with

A finger of fudge

is just enough

to give the kids a treat

Anyway, Toblerone (in England we call it Toe – blur – own. In Switzerland they call it Toe- bluh – roh – nay because it links Tobler’s name to torrone – the Italian word for nougat) is still out on it’s own after 100 years.

It’s been owned by Kraft foods since 2000 and currently is ranked 17th amongst global confectionary foods brands – impressive given it has had limited distribution in the US for the past thirty years or so (hey, I’m a consultant; I get paid to know this stuff). The current marketing tagline is: "Lose yourself in the Toblerone triangle."Further hints at the hallucinogenic power of chocolate, honey and nougat – or is it just the triangular shape that makes the difference?

The triangular shape, which allows you to snap off one triangle at a time and pretend that you’ll leave the rest to later, is the link to the exotic dancers in the headline of this blog entry

It’s often stated that Tobler gave the chocolate its triangular shape because he was inspired by the Matterhorn but Theodor Tobler was in his twenties when he came up with the idea and he was the king of marketing cool of his day so I wasn’t surprised to learn that Matterhorn (booooooring) had nothing to do with it.

According to Tobler’s grandson, Andreas, the idea actually was inspired when Theodore went to the Folies Bergeres in Paris (a very naughty place to visit at the time) and saw the dancers forming human triangles as part of their act.

You have to admire a man who sees pretty, athletic women form a triangle and goes “Mmm, I’d like to pop those in my mouth one at a time.”

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