Monday, May 30, 2011
Naomi Campbell pulls the race bar on Cadbury ad
How do you react to this ad?
If you're Naomi Campbell, your reaction is: "I am shocked. It's upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people. I do not find any humour in this. It is insulting and hurtful."
And now Cadbury faces a possible boycott over it.
Operation Black Vote's Simon Woolley has written to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, asking them to mobilize the African-American community over this. Because although Cadbury chocolate is not sold in the United States its parent company, Kraft, is the largest confectionery, food, and beverage corporation headquartered in the US. (Ironically, the Kraft takeover of Cadbury led to many boycott calls from UK chocolate fans.)
"Racism in the playground starts with black children being called 'chocolate bar'," Woolley Explains. "At best, this is insensitive, and at worst it demonstrates Cadbury's utter disregard for causing offence. Its lack of apology just adds insult to injury. The Eurocentric joke is not funny to black people.
"It's particularly galling because we've just had a week that saw the establishment fall over themselves to be close to the Obamas and yet black people are being derided in such an insulting and negative way."
But do you really think the creative team was even thinking about the colour of Naomi Campbell's skin? This is a women who, when sentenced to perform five days of community service with New York's sanitation department for assaulting her housekeeper, "attended her community service wearing designer outfits, including fedoras, furs, and—upon completion of her sentence—a silver sequined Dolce & Gabbana gown."
If you're going to choose someone to personify the word "diva", there are few who wear it so well.
But unlike Dunkin' Donuts, Cadbury did not pay Naomi Campbell for the use of her name. I'm pretty sure that's what got her attention.
And the racialization of the ad? I'm sure it was unintentional. Although the comment about "chocolate bar" (is that a common slur in the UK?), or the fact Borat often used "chocolate people" as a derogatory term in his wanderings, at least show that offence can be taken, if you're looking for it.
Cadbury insists the campaign was "a light-hearted take on the social pretensions of Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss". They have, however, pulled it.
I think the real moral of the story is "don't fuck with a supermodel".