by Kelly O’Hanlon, senior lecturer in PR at Birmingham City University’s School of Media

Who knew that eggs would be causing so much concern in January? You’d almost think it was Easter.

The launch of limited edition Creme Eggs has prompted a nationwide hunt and has been orchestrated for the very purpose of putting this product back on the agenda for consumers. The campaign by Cadbury is timed to be unexpected and to offer people something full of promise at a time when we’re supposed to be suffering with January blues, in the build up to the celebration of all things chocolate (and an important religious festival too, don’t forget).

Perceived scarcity of a product, or a prize in this instance, can have a profound effect on human behaviour. We all recall the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and as a nation, we seem to be swept up in the very exciting opportunity that a rare white chocolate egg could be just down the road, at our corner shop. We all know it’s unlikely, but the logical part of our minds tells us that anything is possible and someone has to win… unless the game is fixed or tampered with.

Sometimes these kinds of stories can create all manner of spin off tales and it’s not always clear whether a reported account is completely accurate. A kind of urban myth can emerge, where someone’s hairdresser’s friend’s cousin’s girlfriend swears she saw somebody else do something; and the more such stories are shared, based in truth or not, the more they spread like wildfire.

The case of Creme Egg frenzy is an interesting one to consider. The actual story from Cadbury is simple – find a white chocolate egg and win money – but in the hands of the consumer, it seems to have become a story of near misses, lucky finds and (potential) misdeeds on the part of shop workers and those claiming to know all the hacks to crack the Creme Egg code.

It’s a PR’s dream – positive or negative, the word of mouth generated has created more buzz and it’s not all coming direct from the brand itself, so the perceived value and potential reach multiplies.

Frankly, the specific reports of hysteria and the lengths people will go to in order to find one of these exceptional eggs puts a whole new meaning to ‘how do you eat yours?’

Image credit: Abul Hussain


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