Unfriend enemies (in chocolate)

The forward-thinking lexicographers of Oxford Dictionary recently announced the success of ‘unfriend’ as its Word of the Year 2009.

How apt considering the successful uptake of social networking in our industry this year and the bubbling rivalry of the world’s biggest chocolate brands.

To ‘unfriend’ is to remove someone as a friend from popular social networks such as Facebook. I wonder if, taking into account the waves made by Kraft, Nestlé, Hershey and Ferrero recently, a considerable amount of ‘unfriending’ isn’t going on behind closed doors.

Friends reuniting are Hershey and Ferrero, who may combine to offer a friendly bid for the Cadbury business (the share price of which looks sweeter each passing day).

Kraft Foods, on the other hand, may unfriend everybody simply out of spite, as its hostile bid for Cadbury didn’t go down too well recently. And let’s face it, hostility doesn’t work when it comes to successful social networking.

I suspect Todd Stitzer, Cadbury’s chief executive, will welcome a bid tabled by Hershey based on the fact that the two companies have, to stretch the analogy, ‘poked’ one another in the past, and have enjoyed a productive relationship since.

But Nestlé is also poking around, which may determine how quickly the long-running chocolate saga will be over once and for all. And then there’ll probably be another round of unfriending. And what a shame as Christmas approaches.