It is one of the enduring mysteries of Canadian advertising, its origins dating back to the 1960s, yet the Caramilk Secret continues to resonate with Canadians a half century later.
Rebooted in 2010 after a two-year absence, the Caramilk Secret was given new life as a real-life quest that invited consumers to seek out special keys that would purportedly unlock the secret.
This year’s third iteration of the “Caramilk Key to the Secret” program – in which 10 golden keys are hidden in specially marked Caramilk bars and one leads to a prize of $250,000 – is using professional predictors to help Canadians find the bars.
Renowned psychic Physic Nikki, a University of Toronto probabilities expert, and Terry Grant, former star of the OLN series Mantracker, are among the predictors appearing in a series of TV and online videos promoting the annual program. In Quebec, the predictors include TVA meteorologist Colette Provencher and well-known astrologer Diane Houle.
Other predictors include a champion pointer dog and the Zoltar Fortune Telling Machine, which will appear in a pair of 15-second spots debuting later in the four-month campaign. Predictions from Psychic Nikki will appear on Caramilk’s Facebook page.
In a series of largely unscripted spots, each expert provides insight, based on their particular skill, as to where and when the 10 keys will be discovered.
The TV and online elements are being supported by on-pack messaging as well as large-format out-of-home ads in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Each time one of the 10 keys is found, a giant replica will be hung on one of the boards.
While it hasn’t yet attained “Roll Up the Rim”-type recognition, the “Caramilk Key to the Secret” has quickly become a key marketing initiative for the Kraft-owned chocolate brand since its 2010 debut, said Simon Creet, chief creative officer for The Hive, the Toronto agency behind the campaign.
The 2010 iteration of the program won gold at the 2012 Cassies in the Events, Seasonal and Short-Term category. According to the accompanying case study, the program made Caramilk – a uniquely Canadian brand – the top-selling chocolate bar in Canada during the advertising period and through the following quarter. The campaign is credited with generating $3.1 million in incremental sales, far surpassing the campaign objective of $1.5 million.
Caramilk also saw a 12-point increase in its equity score – the biggest gain in the last decade – and a significant increase in non-users, suggesting the campaign had brought lapsed users back into the fold.
“The program itself is massively successful,” said Creet. “The activity level goes through the roof when this program is running, and everybody is trying to figure out where [the keys] are.”
Caramilk’s target is adults 18-50 with an even male-female split.
Media planning for the campaign was handled by Jungle Media, while MediaVest Canada oversaw media buying.