Riding the bus during nighttime can be scary, especially if you are a single mother traveling with a kid who won’t stop crying. Add an intimidating-looking man to this scenario and voilà: You might have all the ingredients to witness an unpleasant scene. One can think that this is the perfect path to a disaster where not much can be done to change the course of the events. Unless… You add honey to this tense situation to sweeten it. Or, well, chocolate.

In a recent campaign by Ogilvy Singapore, Cadbury Asia takes a bus ride to highlight that we shouldn’t draw negative conclusions based on someone’s looks. Directed by Johan Stahl, the ad debuted on June 3rd in Asia on TV and online, communicating the goodness that runs through the Cadbury brand via a short, heartwarming story that plays on the famous “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying.

Shot in Kuala Lumpur, the video opens with a mother and her kid, traveling by bus during nighttime. As if her crying kid wasn’t enough — his loud reaction making the other passengers feel annoyed — a scary, intimidating-looking man approaches the duo and sits behind them. Things get even worse: While the mom is busy with a mini-accident she has, having her shopping bag’s contents spilled when the bus drove off from the station, the boy turns to the stranger, staring at him.

The situation gets even tenser when the man reaches out to his vest to take something out. To the mother and the little boy’s surprise, this weapon they were expecting to see in the stranger’s hands isn’t something harmful but rather a sweet tool to help put a big smile on the kid’s face: a Cadbury chocolate bar.

“The whole core of this concept was to build tension up to a certain point and then do a complete 180°,” comments the director, who is represented by REVERSE in the US for commercials and branded content. “To make this work, we needed perfect authentic performances from all of the actors, especially the young boy.”

While searching for the “villain” of the story, the team spent a lot of time casting in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. Eventually, they settled on an actor by the name of Rabbit, whose acting skills to switch with ease from a bad-tempered guy to a funny one convinced the team that he is the one to play the role of the tough man.

“Maybe it was the tropical heat with no air conditioning, but by the end of the shoot, we were howling with laughter when Rabbit made the switch to the funny guy,” adds Stahl. “The agency and client were incredibly collaborative and gave us the utmost trust to pull off this concept. It was great to see everything come together so well.”

“This spot exemplifies what Johan does best — simple yet efficient performance-driven storytelling that creates a strong emotional connection to the characters and the product,” concludes Thibaut Estellon, REVERSE Founder/Executive Producer. “Too often, we see spots that are overly focused on technical gadgets and transitions. It’s refreshing to see a piece that feels like a classic and goes back to the essence of advertising.”

The filming took place in Malaysia’s capital city over the course of two days during the nighttime. Moving through Kuala Lumpur’s heavy traffic isn’t exactly easy, so the team needed the help of a floating police escort to keep them company at the time of the shooting. But their work paid off with the resulted ad perfectly capturing in images the “Goodness That Melts Your Heart” tagline.


Client: Cadbury Dairy Milk

Agency: Ogilvy Singapore

CCO: Nicolas Courant

ACD: Rachel Chew and Sonali Ranjit

Account Director: Bowie Tiong

Regional Business Director: Kanika Sood

Chief Client Officer: Giri Jadhav


Production Company: Hanzo Films/Dubai

Director: Johan Stahl

DP: Werner Maritz

Producer: Chippy Babu

Executive Producer: Hijaz Moosa, Gemsheer CC


Offline Studio: BaconX/Copenhagen


Editorial Company: ArtOfficial, CPH

Editor: Jeppe Bødskov


Music: Anton Eger & Johan Stahl


Sound: Reda El-Kheloufi


Grading Studio: Cameo/Copenhagen

Colorist: Lasse Marcussen


Service Production: Biscuit Films/KL

Local Producer: Magen Appathurai, Daniel Wee


Media.Monks Team:

Head of Films APAC: Rebecca So

EP: Zyra Khiruddin

Producer: Thinesh Muniandy

Program Manager: Nigel Pinto