Cellphone beat-downs are back in the news. Last week, New York Times tech writer David Pogue allegedly attacked his wife with an iPhone (if it wasn’t an iPhone 4, his career is over). And now the Grande Dame of Smartphone Assaults, supermodel Naomi Campbell, is threatening to throw her bloodthirsty Blackberry at Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer, over using her name without permission in an ad she finds racist.
The docile model, who has lived peaceably since beating police officers in 2008, has a big problem with this:
Naomi contends that ad offensively likens her to chocolate: “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.” Cadbury maintains that the ad was meant to be “a light-hearted take on the social pretensions of Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss,” but has since pulled it.
Meanwhile, Campbell continues to pursue “every option available” to her, including a possible lawsuit — and maybe a fist fight…
Reasonable minds certainly differ on this, but to me, the ad isn’t likening Naomi to “chocolate.” It’s saying that both Naomi and Cadbury Bliss are pampered divas. An analogous ad might be one with a picture of an old school plastic Sony Walkman with the strap line “Even Jackie couldn’t chop this in half.” Is that subtly racist? I don’t think so, but then again I’m probably not as primed to see anti-black or anti-Asian (for example) sentiment in media as someone who is black or of Asian descent, respectively. But give me a Mel Gibson movie, and I’d be delighted to point out the anti-Semitism.
True, Cadbury could have picked a white first-name-only diva for the ad, like Madonna or Celine or even Posh, but none of these epic narcissists come anywhere close to having Naomi’s reputation as a fit-throwing hellcat. That’s how the public knows that the diva Naomi referred to in the ad is Campbell and not Judd, Watts, or Naomi from Lost. Bitch is banned from British Airways for life, for chrissakes. But point taken that there is something unsavory about picking a black woman to name in an ad for chocolate.
Others around the web see the Naomi ad as patently offensive and cite Cadbury’s #fail track record for putting out ads that many consider racist and stereotypical. In one case, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority launched a formal investigation into a particular Cadbury ad, which it found employed “harmful stereotypes” and offensive imagery. Yeah. NOT GREAT.
Given Cadbury’s troubling ad history, maybe the Naomi ad is not as innocent as it may first appear. In that case, Cadbury needs to do more than pull the ad, bat its eyes, and proclaim that it “would never produce any marketing activity we felt might cause offense to any section of society.” It needs to apologize to the public and also to Naomi, who has worked tirelessly to promote inclusiveness in the fashion word and beyond. She certainly doesn’t need some antiquated candy company belittling her by calling her “chocolate.”
And then there’s this:
That’s a photo of Naomi Campbell seated on a chocolate Playboy bunny, taken by David LaChapelle for the December 1999 Playboy. Whether or not you think the Cadbury ad is offensive, looks like diva Naomi is just pissed that they used her name and she didn’t get paid.
Let’s get a second opinion on this situation….
Elie here. This isn’t a Pls Hndle Thx so I’ll keep my thoughts brief. But I passionately disagree with the statement that reasonable minds can disagree about whether or not this ad is racist. Instead, I think that finding this ad racist is proof positive of an unreasonable, possibly delusional mind in desperate need of medical attention.
I don’t care if Cadbury was the exclusive chocolate of the KKK, this particular ad is not racist. It’s not even close. They don’t even use the word chocolate in the ad! There is no implication, whatsoever, that only chocolate (as in African-American) divas need to “move over” for this chocolate (as in delicious) product.
As far as I know, the only thing Cadbury makes is chocolate. So, adopting the Naomi Campbell standard would essentially mean that Cadbury could never refer to black people in any way ever again. Barack Obama hiding a Cadbury Easter Egg? Buzz, racist! 50Cent eating a Chomp? Buzz, racist! Antoine Dodson having a Cadbury Fudge Bar? Racist, and probably homophobic, according to the ludicrous standards espoused by Naomi Campbell.
Naomi Campbell may sue Cadbury for using her name in ‘racist’ chocolate ads [New York Daily News]
Naomi Campbell Upset Over Cadbury Ad [Starpulse]