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Best Purpose-Driven Marketing Strategy

To retain its position as New Zealand’s most loved and trusted brand, Whittaker’s has partnered with Rainforest Alliance and made a conscious effort to remind its consumers of its commitment to be a moral and ethical company.


The Challenge

Despite being one of New Zealand’s most loved and trusted brands, as the lens of society changes the demand for ethical products has risen. Meaning, Whittaker’s needed a long-term plan to retain its increasingly consumer conscious consumer base. Good Honest Chocolate (GHC) has always been at the core of everything the brand does, however Whittaker’s hadn’t reviewed the overall saliency of its outward purpose in this space. It became imperative that Whittaker’s should devise a long-term plan that could demonstrate its commitment to be a moral and ethical company. 

 GHC needed meaning behind it and material actions were to be used as proof points. The major problem to overcome was finding Whittaker’s definition of new trust so that the brand wouldn’t age with its consumers. 

The Response

Abiding by its long-term plan, Whittaker’s began demonstrating its commitment to good honest chocolate through everyday language within internal and external communications, as well as moving from Fairtrade to Rainforest Alliance certification. 

From two products to 116, Whittaker’s chocolate is now certified by the Rainforest Alliance and all products are made with Ghanaian Cocoa. The initiative was to build direct relationships with Ghanaian cocoa farmers which would then lead to a higher margin insurance for the long term and would drive brand preference. 

The timing of the Rainforest Alliance announcement was strategic, following the introduction of Good Honest Chocolate and its ingredients from the Samoa Cocoa Improvement Programme. Joining forces, the programme saw a fourth-generation chocolate maker Matt Whittaker and a fourth-generation cocoa producer come together giving Whittaker’s the opportunity to revitalise the Samoan chocolate industry. Riding on the success of the programme, Whittaker’s intended on adopting the same approach for the launch of its Rainforest Alliance partnership, however, were faced with Covid-19 travel disruptions. Fortunately, the brand was able to engage with a local Ghanaian agency to capture authentic footage at both of the co-operatives. 

The Result

As a result of rebuilding trust and showing consumers the efforts it has undertaken to be more ethically conscious, Whittaker’s was awarded NZ’s Most Trusted Brand for the ninth year in May. With $40,000 into media investment, Whittaker’s delivered 1m+ unique social reach and over 16,000 meaningful engagements. 

Topping it all off, Whittaker’s received international recognition via the Global Golden Egg Award for excellence in policies and practices to lead to ending child labour, bringing in a living income for famers and also for care of the environment.

Entry details

Category: Best Purpose-driven Marketing Strategy
Company: J H Whittaker & Sons
Marketing Initiative: The Road to Good Honest Chocolate
Marketing Partners: MBM, Sweeny Vesty, Wunderman Thompson
Judge’s Comments: “A stand out example of an activity borne of a clear purpose-driven strategy. This has been well executed end-to-end, in collaboration with a range of business stakeholders. For a market leader to challenge itself to stay on top takes bravery and commitment.”
Finalists: ANZ Bank, ASB Bank, ecostore, Lotto New Zealand, Meridian Energy, The Rock – MediaWorks


This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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