Maltesers brand strategy / positioning case study

Maltesers Brand Strategy Analysis

FMCG Foodconfectionery and chocolate, desserts & ice creams

Owner of the brand:
Mars, Inc.

Key competitors:
Reeses’s, Hershey’s, Smarties, Kit Kat, Cadbury

Brand essence

An iconic British chocolate brand encouraging people not to take life too seriously and supporting diversity.

Brand values

Positivity, fun, diversity, inclusivity.

Brand character

Light-hearted, playful, laid-back, for everybody, humorous, positive.


Maltesers, in their most popular form, are small chocolate balls with a honeycomb centre. The fact that the centre is made of honeycomb and, as such, lighter than chocolate has been a key differentiator of the brand since its very launch in 1936. Maltesers were originally marketed as “low fat energy balls” and targeted at dieting women, with the original tagline: “The chocolates with the less fattening centre”[1]. Today, while the lightness of Maltesers remains the backbone of its brand strategy, the product is more associated with the brand’s lighthearted and humorous approach to life than its features.


In 2016, Channel 4 announced a competition for all British advertisers, in which £1 million of the channel’s commercial airtime was to be won. Companies were encouraged “to prominently feature disability and disabled talent in their advertising campaigns”[2]. The Maltesers brand won the contest, beating 90 others including Amazon, Axe / Lynx, Dove, Barclays, H&M or Lloyds[3]. Maltesers launched three TV spots created in response to the brief, “Look on the light side of disability”[4], whose objective was to normalize disability. Each ad portrayed a disabled woman sharing Maltesers with her friends while telling an amusing anecdote related to her disability (“New Boyfriend”[5], “Dance Floor”[6] and “Theo’s Dog”[7]).


“Look on the light side of disability” turned out to be Maltesers’ most successful campaign of the decade[8]. It not only improved consumer engagement and brand KPIs, but also increased sales by 8%[9]. In light of these results, Maltesers’ management decided to make diversity an integral part of the brand’s positioning. Michele Oliver, VP of Marketing at Mars Chocolate UK, told Marketing Week: “Diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of the brand and what it stands for and you should expect to see it in big or small ways in everything coming from the brand from now on.[10]


In 2019, Maltesers decided to widen its approach in the UK by shifting its focus from normalizing disability through humour to celebrating female friendships in a more general sense. Rebecca Salisbury, Maltesers Brand Director, explained the change to The Drum: “Some of Maltesers best-performing advertising campaigns feature female friends laughing over a packet of Maltesers. We wanted to build on this further and highlight that friendship is critical to helping women overcome the highs and lows of life. Whether it’s university, motherhood, work or travel, friendship groups often drift apart in adulthood. Maltesers believes that laughter and positivity can be a powerful force for good and is seeking to champion those female friendships.[11]


The Maltesers brand was launched in the US in 2017, following a “light side of chocolate” strategy and positioning itself as playful and carefree. However, so far, American communication hasn’t focused on diversity and inclusivity, unlike the recent British communication. The Maltesers brand in the US was launched with the help of YouTube influencers Caspar Lee, Andrew Huang and Jessie Paege, among others.



Maltesers, at its core, is a Jester brand, encouraging people not to take life too seriously in a humorous and lighthearted way. Given its recent focus on inclusivity and diversity, Maltesers’ brand equity also seems to include elements of the Regular Guy archetype.

Most important campaigns

1. “Someone Gets It” (UK, 2019)

2. “New Maltesers Buttons | Sunglasses” (UK, 2018)

3. “New Boyfriend” (UK, 2016)

4. “Dance Floor” (UK, 2016)

5. “Life As A Teen: Expectation VS. Reality” (US, 2017)

6. “Leaving” (UK, 2016)

Official brand statement:

Maltesers – the lighter way to enjoy chocolate. These crisp honeycombed centers covered in delicious milk chocolate were first introduced in the U.K. in 1936.[12]

Interesting facts:

“Look on the light side of disability” was the Advertising Standards Authority’s 10th most-complained about campaign in 2016 in the UK for being “overly sexual and offensive to disabled people”.[13]


1. The Drum on Maltesers’ new creative strategy focused on celebrating female friendships
J. Faull, “Maltesers’ Best-Performing Ads Channel Female Friendship, So It’s Launched A Campaign About It”, The Drum, Sep 2019,

2. Campaign on the effectiveness of Maltesers’ disability campaign
O. Oakes, “Maltesers’ Disability Campaign ‘Most Successful’ In Decade”, Campaign, May 2017,

3. Maltesers’ launch in the US
“Maltesers’ Influencer-Driven Launch Strategy”, WARC, May 2017,

4. Maltesers’ brand extension case study prepared by Marketing Society
A. Mandl, V. Williams, C. Collins, “Maltesers Brand Extension – (MaltEaster, Maltesers Teasers, Merryteaser)”, Marketing Society, 2015,

  1. D. Corless, “You’ll Ruin Your Dinner: Sweet Memories From Irish Childhood”,
  2. “Channel 4 Launches £1Million Superhumans Wanted Prize”, Channel 4, Apr 2016,
  3. O. Oakes, “Maltesers And AMV BBDO Win Channel 4’s £1M Superhumans Prize”, Campaign, Jun 2016,
  4. “Maltesers “Look On The Light Side Of Disability” By Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO”, Campaign, Sep 2016,
  8. O. Oakes, “Maltesers’ Disability Campaign ‘Most Successful’ In Decade”, Campaign, May 2017,
  9. Ibid.
  10. S. Vizard, “Maltesers Unveils Braille Bus Poster As It Puts Inclusivity At Heart Of The Brand”, Marketing Week, Jan 2017,
  11. J. Faull, “Maltesers’ Best-Performing Ads Channel Female Friendship, So It’s Launched A Campaign About It”, The Drum, Sep 2019,
  13. “2016’s Most Complained About Ads”, ASA, Jan 2017,

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