Arts & Leisure

Harnessing the sweet taste of One Direction

Posted on March 12, 2015

ONE of the universal truths is everything is better with chocolate… even boy bands.

In light of the upcoming two-day concert of the mega-popular English boy band One Direction (1D), Villa del Conte launched a limited edition of 1D chocolate bars featuring the band members on the wrapping.

And just as the concerts on March 21 and 22 will be the first time the group will be performing in the Philippines, it is also the first time the Filipino chocolate brand has customized its chocolates for international superstars.

“From beginning to end, [it took] a better part of eight to nine months. We started a long time ago. It really wasn’t easy,” Vincent G. Aldanese, president of Cioccolato Sublime, Inc., told BusinessWorld during the launch on March 6.

“It was a lot of going back and forth, it was very educational. You can’t really say it’s very, very painful because it was a wonderful experience,” he added.

It was a process that required the agreement of three parties -- the band’s representatives, the folks of Villa del Conte, and the chocolatier in Italy where the company sources its chocolates. Hence, the long period of production.

The band members -- Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson -- personally approved the three flavors that went into their bars: fine milk chocolate with hazelnut chips, dark chocolate with salted caramel, and milk chocolate with cereals (last two of which were new flavors), said Mr. Aldanese.

The chocolate wraps come in six designs: a group shot and one for each member.

“We’re ready for the demand as the concert nears,” Mr. Aldanese said before adding that they have already been getting numerous orders for the bars. While a lot of the orders are for the whole pack of six, there are request to add more of the bars featuring Liam Payne and Harry Styles -- which prompted Mr. Aldanese to quipped that maybe they are fan favorites.

Each bar costs P295 and the complete set of six bars sells for P1,480.

It’s been more than five years since Mr. Aldanese and his company started Villa del Conte, a premium chocolate brand named for the Italian town which started making the chocolates 81 years ago.

Mr. Aldanese said that even if the chocolates are sourced from Italy, Villa del Conte is a Filipino brand and a Filipino company.

He describes its products as “affordable luxury” -- something that anyone can buy. The company’s philosophy, he said, is to cast the net wide enough to encompass even the masses and not settle on a specific target market.

“We’re very happy with the position we’re in. We go head-to-head and we’re not scared of anybody. We’re the lowest price in the [premium chocolate] industry in comparison to everybody else… everybody can afford our chocolates,” he said.

He said that because of the success of Villa del Conte chocolates -- they now have six stores -- the company is now thinking of franchising and even setting up a café in the near future.

“I don’t want [the café to serve] Italian food. What I want to do is [to find] 10 to 12 menu items -- one page lang siya -- of the most popular foods in our country,” he said. “I don’t want [the pricing] to be upper tier, I want it for masa (the masses). I want it at a particular price range. I want everyone to enjoy it,” he added.

Mr. Aldanese also takes pride in the fact that the reason that its chocolates are very popular as corporate and wedding giveaways is because it is willing to work with whatever budget it is given.

“We customize, we don’t have a minimum and maximum quantity orders and we solely work with your budget -- there’s no one else that works with that, it’s unheard of,” he explained.

This kind of flexibility will also be present, he said, when they open the brand for franchising within the year.

For bulk orders of Villa del Conte chocolates, call 893-2575 or 621-6101 or visit the Web site or follow its social media accounts. -- Zsarlene B. Chua