Storytelling Weekly – #014 Tony’s Chocolonely

I’m 100% a chocolate lover…

However, the cacao industry is one of the most controversial markets.

On the one hand, it’s a $113 BILLION global market… 

With billions of chocolate lovers worldwide – raving about the taste, the romance, and the health benefits. (yeah, cacao is the ultimate superfood)

But, on the other hand…

The production involves an estimated 2.8 million child laborers, human trafficking, slavery, encroaching on forest land, and extreme poverty.

It’s like the blood diamond – but worse!

To battle this conflict, one company was born…

Tony’s Chocolonely.

Recap of Storytelling Weekly

Before diving in, here’s a quick recap for newcomers just tuning in to my One Story A Week Series. 

  • Once a week, I’ll find an interesting brand to study.
  • I’ll break down what I like about their storytelling techniques.
  • Then, I’ll show you how to utilize these techniques in email.
Full Disclaimer

I don’t have any insider info or access to their account. So, I’m writing based on studying their website, interviews, and emails. However, I don’t have proof of earning claims or results of specific campaigns.

Now, there won’t be any “hard selling” in this series, but – 

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Brand Introduction

Ecommerce Email Marketing - Tony's Chocolonely Logo

Tony’s Chocolonely is the #1 chocolate brand in the Netherlands.

Chocolonely was founded in 2005 by three journalists to raise awareness about the problem in the chocolate industry. The name was chosen because they were lone soldiers in this fight.

I first found out about Tony’s Chocolonely from Last Week Tonight:

An episode that’s supposed to be called, “It’s worse than you may realize.”

But, for marketers, the key question is:

How did three journalists build the largest chocolate brand in the Netherlands? (now even available in Whole Foods)  

That’s the secret I want to discuss today.

Storytelling Tactics

According to the company – 

“We’re an impact brand that happens to sell chocolate, not the other way around.”

This, my friend, is the answer.

If you visit their website, you’ll notice that this company has a Mission.

From the Optin Box:

Tony’s serious friends actively help us achieve our vision of 100% slave free chocolate. We can’t do it alone. We’re stronger together. Besides, we think it’s more fun that way. With you as a serious friend, our mission becomes OUR mission.
source: Homepage

To the Mission page:

Alone we make slave free chocolate. Together we make all chocolate 100% slave free. So we ask you to join us.
source: Mission page

To the How It All Started page:

We’ve been fighting for slave-free chocolate for the last 13 years. In that time we’ve been supported, encouraged, challenged and Tony’s has been eaten by many people all around the world. We’re aware of the challenges involved in trying to change the chocolate industry. But we are determined to keep going until we achieve our mission.
source: How It All Started page

They repeat their mission relentlessly.

So, if we’re to sum up the core of their marketing strategy, it’s – 

Clearly convey our mission statement over and over and over again!

It’s like the quote from Aristotle:

“Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them again!” 

Now, I know this strategy might sound like a broken record…

But it’s actually a very useful technique – when you have a worthy mission.

Because when you’re on a mission, you attract like-minded people.

People who want to align themselves with a specific Identity.

(in Tony’s situation, people who believe slavery and child labor is bad)

This pulling force is much stronger than any “marketing tactic” in the book.

Email Tip of The Week

It all starts with a Mission.

Because having a mission makes all your other marketing more effective.

You don’t need to be funny, tell silly jokes, or be particularly “smart” in words. But you want a worthy mission…

A mission that claims:

“People like us believe in things like these. Follow us if you believe in our values.”

You can build a cult-like following that supports your mission… and buys your products out of love.

It’s the foundation for attracting your 1000 True Fans.


Now, it’s your turn.

What is your mission?

  • Are you against a terrible practice in your industry?
  • Are you trying to make the world a better place?
  • Are you ridding the world of evil?

Identify your mission. Share it with the world. Show proof of your action.

And believers will gather around you to follow, support, and buy from you.