Storytelling Weekly – #028 Ghirardelli

I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2012 to 2019.

During those years, whenever a friend visited me, I would take him/her on a signature tour:

We’ll start at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market.

Enjoy a pork belly sandwich at the RoliRoti Rotisserie.

Take a walk from Pier 1 up to Pier 39.

Savor the clam chowder sourdough bowl at Boudin.

Stroll up the hill to the Ghirardelli chocolate factory.

And wander back downtown through Chinatown.

The highlight of this trip – 

The chocolate sundae + brownie at Ghirardelli.


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 - Ghirardelli Logo

From a small confectionery shop to an 812 million USD brand…

Enduring the great San Francisco earthquake plus a big fire…

Ghirardelli is now a household name in America.


I knew none of these when I first visited the store.

So, today, let me share MY “first impression” of the brand.

Storytelling Tactics

In 2012, I came to the Bay Area to study at UC Berkeley.

A friend of mine took me on a tour of San Francisco.

One of the attractions was the Ghirardelli chocolate factory.

When I walked up to the counter, I saw a sign saying:

“Because the product at this store contains too much sugar… so there will be an extra fat tax on the products.

(I’m paraphrasing here. I don’t recall the exact wording)

I remember thinking – 

“This is BRILLIANT marketing material!!!”

Moving forward…

Whenever a friend or family visited me, I would take them to the store and show them the sign.

We would laugh… and order a sundae.

Here’s the interesting thing:

No one ever said, “this is too unhealthy. I’m not gonna eat it.”


Everyone WANTED to know how sweet it can be.

(and the truth is… the famous ice cream at Sausalito and the dessert on the Napa Valley Train is much, much sweeter)

Email Tip of The Week

Brands are afraid to polarize.

(that’s why Disney needs to make Little Mermaid black)

But let’s face it.

You can’t stand out by saying the same thing everyone else says.

By definition, stand out means to be very noticeable.

So, when you’re simply repeating the same old, same old…

…or following a blind trend

You blend in with the rest.

You become The Average.

And the average can only compete on price, advertising budget, and distribution. But – 

If you sell chocolates, you cannot out-cheap Hershey.

If you sell shoes, you cannot out-advertise Nike.

If you sell supplements, you cannot out-channel NatureMade.

Just like David cannot beat Goliath by becoming “stronger.”

All of that means if you can’t find a way to stand out in today’s jaded market, you are doomed.


Unless you have 4.06 billion USD a year for advertising – like Nike – you are the underdog.

As an underdog, the only way to survive (& grow) in 2024 is to be different.

So, don’t be afraid to polarize.

Spotlight your values:

  • What do you believe in?
  • What do you stand against?
  • Why are you following a traditional method?
  • (or why are you abandoning the traditional method?)

Tell the world why you’re “weird,” and the “weirdos” will love you for it.