How Sexism Increased Sales for Yorkie

While walking through my local international market at lunch, I stumbled upon one of the candy bars I grew up with in England – the Yorkie. Unlike most other candy bars, the Yorkie’s advertising slogan is relatively shocking. It leads with the tag line, “It’s Not For Girls.”
The Yorkie bar was originally conceived as a “chunkier alternative to the slimmed down Dairy Milk bars.” Imagery associated with Yorkie bars in early advertising campaigns featured truck drivers to signify the difference of Yorkie to the more female oriented target market for Dairy Milk.

However, in 2001, agency J Walter Thompson was tasked to update the campaign.

We may not know exactly what research was used by the agency to justify the campaign, but here are some “key consumer insights” that may have been referred to at the time. Let’s take an evidence-based approach at how the idea may have grown. Studies and market reports at the time discussed:

1) The trend of “re-genderization” that sought to celebrate the differences between the two sexes and reclaim the “identity” of men and women’s true nature.

2) The decreased role of men in society.

The campaign was focused around  these initial insights, resulting in a movement away from subtle imagery and towards an advertising campaign featuring a more direct tag line, “It’s Not For Girls.”

Here is a snapshot at the unabashed direction of the messaging:


A widely viewed televison commercial reinforced the messaging:

The campaign received widespread attention – with both positive and negative reactions.

But more importantly, how were sales affected? Reports 12 weeks after launch suggested that sales of Yorkie bars had increased by 30%. And ten years later, the campaign is still in full effect.


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