Bright red and similar in size to a food truck, the Chocotruck lets guests “step inside the world of Tony’s and learn about inequality within the cocoa industry,” the company said in a release.
On the outside, visitors can buy chocolate from a collapsible sales booth or snap a photo at the back of the truck under a painted chocolate bar and the words, ‘Let’s Raise the Bar!’
Tony’s decided to deploy a mobile truck – a first for the Dutch company – to connect directly with US customers, where the brand still has plenty of room to grow, US marketing manager Dena White told ConfectioneryNews.
“We face slightly different challenges, like even the sheer size of this country, that make it tricky to develop new relationships. It’s important for us as a company to have real friendships with our choco fans and key partners. And for that to happen, it needs to be in person,” White said.
Since its first chocolate bars hit the market in 2005, Tony’s has strived to source cocoa from farms committed to fair wages and workers’ rights, working with more than 5,000 farms across five cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Barry Callebaut produces all of its bars and in 2016 installed an exclusive cocoa butter tank to give Tony’s a ‘fully traceable’ line to the ingredient’s origin. In 2012, bars switched from the industry-standard breakable squares model to an ‘unequally divided’ design to represent inequality in the chocolate supply chain.
Simultaneously, the company has promoted a colorful brand image that has led the company to more than 40% year-over-year growth and $50m in sales.
“We’re a crazy and fun brand with a very serious goal of ending slavery in the cocoa industry,” said White. “We needed to bring both of those elements to life and bring new friends into our world, so they feel connected to us. The truck creates a sense of space and allows us to invite everyone in to learn more about what matters the most to us in a fun, interactive and experiential way.”
Wanted: Will work for chocolate
The Portland-based Fairtrade and B-corp certified chocolate company is seeking a team leader and two brand ambassadors for its first Chocotruck Tour to ten US cities, mostly on the West Coast.
For three months, with possibility of extension or renewal according to the job listing, the captain and co-pilots will educate consumers on Tony’s mission and promote on social media while handling day-to-day truck maintenance. Applications opened on January 31 and will close on February 12.
“We’re expecting, and already seeing, a huge array of applicants with a diverse set of experiences, interests and more. What we’re really after is the right people with the right attitudes who are hungry for adventure and committed to making a positive impact in the world,” said White.
Recruits for both positions will work ‘long and tiring’ days, the company says in the job description, interacting with visitors, liaising with the marketing manager and handling daily setup and teardown. They should also have experience in road tour or event production.
Up the West Coast… for now
This ‘epic road trip,’ as the company describes it, will take the new team members from Austin to Phoenix; north to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley, CA; then to Eugene, OR and the company’s hometown Portland; and finally to Seattle and Chicago.
“We chose these cities based on a few things, including aligning with our presence at SXSW, and with points of distribution, our proximity to the Pacific Northwest and where we see the greatest opportunity for the truck,” said White, adding that Tony’s will lead a session at SXSW called Changing the Chocolate Industry.
Admitting that “this truck was no small undertaking,” White hinted that the Chocotruck would likely visit other markets ‘in the near future.’