Cadbury runs ad comparing Naomi Campbell to chocolate bar

If you think a chocolate company would be the least likely suspect to run a racist advertisement, think again.

Naomi Campbell is understandably up in arms about a new ad Cadbury Chocolate ran in newspapers in Europe last week. On the advertisement for their new product, Bliss, it says, “Move over, Naomi, there’s a new diva in town.” And Campbell is not holding back in taking action:

Campbell revealed she is considering “every option available” after Cadbury, owned by the US giant Kraft, refused to pull the ad campaign, which ran in newspapers last week: “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.”

The model’s mother, Valerie Morris, backed her daughter, saying: “I’m deeply upset by this racist advert. Do these people think they can insult black people and we just take it? This is the 21st century, not the 1950s. Shame on Cadbury.”

Cadbury claims it will not run the campaign any longer, but no apology was made, simply a statement that the ad was “a light-hearted take on the social pretensions of Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss.”

“Social pretensions” my ass.

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  • Roxy

    Interesting, given she’s participated in the same sort of comparison before:

    (Not to say that photo diminishes the validity of her outrage now.)

    Has anyone read/can recommend any interviews with Campbell where she talks about racism in modeling/fashion?

    • Napoleoninrags

      I think that the photo absolutely does diminish the validity of her outrage. The use of “chocolate” as a stand-in for black is especially prevalent in sexualized images of women of African descent. There is certainly a legitimate cultural criticism that can be leveled against such an association. But when someone like Naomi Campbell profits from it from one side of her mouth and then rails against it as racist when she isn’t being compensated, I do definitely think the “validity” of the outrage is in question.

      All that being said, I’d say that she has a very strong case that her name is being used to promote a product for which she is not being compensated.

      • Roxy

        Well, it’s *also* possible that the picture was taken when she was younger and more impressionable, and she maybe has a different take on it now.

        But yes, I think you’re right that the primary issue for her is the lack of compensation.

      • Angel H.

        No, it doesn’t diminish the validity of her complaint. Just as I can call myself an Angry Negro, like hell I’m going to let a White person call me that name.

  • Red

    It’s not the first time I’ve seen the chocolate analogy used for black people. Ray Nagin, former mayer of New Orleans remarked he wanted to keep NO a “chocolate city”.

    Indeed, is using “chocolate” anymore degrading than the term “ebony” to refer to black people? I don’t see any malice in either case. Certainly no more malice than using the more literal descriptor “black” instead of African-America.

    In the end, I would wager that this is more about Naomi being angry her name was used without pay than the juxtaposition of her and chocolate.

    • Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

      I always thought that comparing people (individual or as a group) was something Homer Simpson or Shaggy (Scooby Doo) would do. I’m serious from someone with hair the color of dark chocolate.

    • Smiley

      I tend to agree.

      I wonder, I wonder: had Cadbury’s asked her, and paid her, before the campaign, would she object?

  • devoted_toucan

    Doesn’t this actually happen quite regularly? Not just about Black people… I’m sure a number of comedians, even films and shows, have made “white chocolate” comments in sexual reference to White people or, obviously if the other way aorund, Black folk… Can’t say I’m bothered when it’s a White people comment. After all, I am that colour :|. And as tasty as ;). Buutt I do think such remarks are better left unsaid.

  • Elisabeth

    Ok, so a sad part here is that Cadbury (before it was bought out by Kraft) was one of the only decent chocolate companies out there with regards to social justice… committed to buying cocoa from slave labor free sources, etc. The new management is sucking this company straight down the drain.

  • Redpine

    Seeing the advert, it never would have occurred to me that it was correlating Naomi’s skin color to chocolate. It would occur to me that they are attempting to associate their product to Naomi’s diva persona.

    However, I was not aware that “chocolate” was a euphemism for African-Americans. How common is that? Is it used only in certain regions? What kind of connotation does it have? I did a google search and mostly romantic references to boyfriends and girlfriends came up. Occasionally it was more lewdly sexual. Often it was used in inter-racial couples, occasionally paired with “vanilla” or “caramel.” (Of course most hits were actually quoting Naomi, but I excluded them)

    Given the use of “chocolate” by some to indicate African-Americans, I do see how Vanessa can see a double entendre in the ad. I’m still unconvinced that it is necessarily and obviously negative.

    But given that some apparently take offense, I, for one, will not use it now. Thanks for the heads up on that.

    • anyadnight

      It’s very common. I believe in Valentine’s Day (the movie) there’s a black male who calls himself chocolate. My friend talks about how when she was young her friends were primarily black women and they would joke that she was “white chocolate.” Also, white people are characterized as “vanilla” and black people with lighter tones or racially mixed backgrounds, “mocha.” In Scrubs the main character who is white and his best friend who is black call themselves vanilla bear and chocolate bear (there is also a reference to a Latino friend, caramel bear who was lost in an accident.) I honestly don’t think I would have gotten that they selected Naomi Campbell because of her skin color if I hadn’t seen the ad on am post about it, but I hear a big “DUH.” Also, calling chocolate a “diva” to make it desirable? Hmm…

  • Angel H.

    I cannot believe (White) people are actually debating whether or not the using “chocolate” to describe Black people is offensive!

    • Freja

      How do you think i feel, they told me I was advertising stetsons and i havent seen a penny since 1965.
      …………. and lets all spare a thought for the Chiquita Banana lady.