• Tue, May 31 2011

Supermodel Naomi Campbell To Maybe Sue Cadbury Over ‘Racist’ Ad

what happens when you google "naomi cambpell chocolate" (also: has nothing to do with the below Cadbury ad)

Naomi Campbell is considering “every option available” (including a lawsuit, yes) after seeing a Cadbury ad that makes several uncomfortable allusions to her. The ad reads “Move over, Naomi, there’s a new diva in town,” and features a Cadbury bar on a pile of diamonds. In addition to drawing the unfortunate parallel between chocolate and women of color, there’s also reference to her high maintenance rep and, weirdly, her high-profile involvement in that blood diamond scandal. So, it’s actually offensive on several levels…?

Campbell says, “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.”

A spokesperson for Kraft claims it was “certainly never our intention to cause any offense and the campaign itself is a light-hearted take on the social pretensions of Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss.”

Here’s the ad in question:

(via HuffPo)

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  • s. york

    I think that people may have slightly misinterpreted the ad. The ad draws a comparison between the chocolate bar and Naomi as being both Divas, and not necessarily because they are both “chocolate”. The fact that the chocolate bar is sitting on top of a pile of diamonds is evidence that the ad is trying to make the point that the chocolate bar is “pampered” as it states, and therefore is the Diva of chocolate bars. It is offensive in that it implies that Naomi is a Diva and pampered, but I don’t think that the intention of the designers of the ad was to draw the comparison between a black woman and a chocolate bar. I think this might be a slight case of turning something into racism when it was not intended to be.

  • haldirlives

    I agree. I never would have seen it as a comparison between a black woman and chocolate. It seems a bit like reverse racism on Naomi’s part. She expected racism, so that’s what she saw. I see a chocolate bar that is being compared to a woman who is associated with luxury and excess. Seems like a classic chocolate ad to me.

  • Amanda

    My first thought about this was “why would they go with Naomi Campbell? Since when is she even relevant anymore?” and then I got the chocolate/black woman connection. If they just wanted a diva, it would have made more sense to go with someone more high-profile, like… Christina, even. For that reason, I think she’s right, and it’s another instance of comparing black women to food, which is almost as played out as Naomi herself.

  • Baker Girl

    I think the idea behind the ad (that both are divas) is ok … but they should have picked someone more relivent?? Does she even model anymore? And with all the “divas” out in Hollywood and in the fashion industry there were plenty to pick from. Also, Cadbury used to be a Brittish company maybe a Brittish Diva would have been a safer bet.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      Naomi is British and still quite famous, especially in the UK.

  • T.O

    As a black woman, I didn’t see an immediate ‘racist’ connotation at all. I just assumed that the ad was a more of a reference to luxury and being pampered. However, I also didn’t really see the Dove ads as racist till people said it was. I don’t have my racial feelers out for every little thing…must work on that, I guess.

  • Jenn Webb

    I think it is a great ad. She looks so beautiful with chocolate color. It is funny, we have that color of earrings I wish she was wearing them.
    http://www.copperreflections.com/

  • Hurricane

    DUH!!!!!!

    IT is just a screen to deflect attention to the Blood Diamond incident. the real joke is the diamond reference. There is nothing racist about calling a black woman “chocolate.” It is a compliment like saying a woman is “as sweet as pie.” Of course any word in the wrong context can be used in a derogatory manner but that is not what this is about.

    She cannot bring attention to the Diamond reference because as a African she should handled the blood diamond incident different and if she made a stink about it on that level it will bring that story back to the forefront. By making a racism allegation she deflects attention away from her actions and puts the onus on Cadbury.

    Also she AGREED to participate in the add. So she cant claim racism when she went over the campaign and knew she was promoting chocolate. That’s just plain stupid.

    She tried avoiding testifying about the diamond incident. I get the feeling that she is very sensitive to her name being tied to diamonds in any way. Unfortunately instead of just ignoring the ad her actions brought those actions she hoped to hide back in the foreground.

  • MM

    At first I thought she was complaining about the picture on top! It’s dreadful. I normally think Naomi is a babe but there she looks like she’s going to eat my soul.

  • Commonsense

    omg get over it naomi. im black skinned, and tbh i had to sit back and try to figure out what was so racist about it? i dont think it has anything at all to do with the chocolate itself. idk. im still confused at it

  • Corissia

    Hurricane: She didn’t agree to be in the ad, the picture of her is unrelated.

    I agree with S. York. Well put.

  • Lillian

    I grew up in the UK like Naomi and was plagued with taunts of “chocowoman” and “chocolate girl” and worse many times from my peers as one of two black girls at both my schools and later college. It culminated in children sabotaging my bike’s brakes.

    It’d probably still sting if someone made a loose reference to it now, even though rationally I know it’s just name calling. It’s an unconscious reaction programmed from many years of such comments, unfortunately.

    Given that the UK fashion world also seems to populated with closet racists who have no compunction in using the ‘n’ word, it might be worth bearing in mind that this makes black women especially sensitive to such references – where as someone else may not see the harm.

  • Holly

    Shes an idiot. Obviously they weren’t talking about the color of her skin and even if they were since when did Chocolate become offensive? If people were only so nice……..I’m white Call me White Chocolate…Its NOT offensive at all. Some people I swear…

  • Hurricane

    Must be a cultural thing then cause in the US Calling a Black girl Chocolate is never used as a racial slur. There might be some sexual harassment issue over that term but I grew up hearing about guys looking for “Chocolate love.” I grew up in a inner city neighborhood and hung out with Blacks most of my life so this is definitely something different about US culture vs UK culture.

    I mean there is nothing negative about chocolate so it’s seems to me kinda stupid to insult someone by calling them candy.

    I still don’t see the racial reference. It’s not pure chocolate nor is there any direct reference to Noami being called chocolate. But there is a huge pile of diamonds in the add and it’s for truffles; very high end candy type. The Diva reference has to do more to her status than her race and she is known as a Diva type celebrity.

    I still think this is to deflect attention about her connection to tyrants and blood diamonds than a true affront about a supposed racial slur.

  • Person E

    Whoever said that this advertisement is not offensive needs a reality check. I’m not at all the biggest Naomi fan, couldn’t care less actually, but it’s clearly offensive and the “light-hearted” ad execs of this ad needed to have taken a second or third look at all of the obvious and underlying implications of this advertisment. I understand that people may think that using colloquialisms in a multi-faceted and incredibly diverse public is OK, but that same public is also a very sensitive one, and measures do need to be taken to make the most effort to be the least offensive. “Chocolate” is not a universally accepted term by Black people, and maybe there isn’t a term that will be accepted across the board, but “chocolate” doesn’t even come close. It’s comparable to the “N” word. Friends can use it in conversations and be fine with it, but have a stranger or person of a different race use it with the same “light-hearted” tone, and it’s definitely going to be a problem. Being politically correct is not selling out or giving in. One can be both light-hearted and community-conscious. It’s not about what country you come from. People just think that Naomi Campbell is unreasonable about everything, when this at least is one issue that warrants her reaction. This is not even mentioning the blood diamond connotations. If Cadbury were to say move over “Beyonce” I think the world would have reason to be just as upset. I get that the ad is not a direct comparison between the two because of her skin color and chocolate, but I also must wonder if it was intentionally done by Kraft to draw this much attention. It’s not unusual to do drastic things to bring more attention to your product. Cadbury’s newest products just got that much more recognition.

    P.S. Some people do not understand or see the racial tones because they have never had to grow up around them. To grow up in a world where you never had daily reminders of your skin color- whether you knew black people or were called white chocolate or no- means that you automatically do not understand and feel what offenses can be taken. That’s not a blow to your character or anything, you just don’t necessarily know first-hand what it is like.

    And excuse me if I, myself, am also judging. #I’m Just Saying.

    • Hurricane

      Person E:

      I grew up in a predominately black neighborhood. I am Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian. When I say I have been exposed to black culture I mean I grew up in a majority black populated school, I was a minority withing a minority. Extolling the “chocolate” qualities in black girls was something I heard first hand from both sexes in reference to themselves. It was never used as a put down in any social setting I was ever at. Where I grew up if you wanted to insult a black woman you would called her “Africa Black” or “Midnight Black.” Where I grew up a woman with a milk chocolate complexion was considered beautiful and the lighter the shade the more exotic a girl was. Shoot look at Beyonce and Nia Long and Zoe Saldana and Halley Berry to see that example first hand.

      And looking at her Biography I doubt she faced tht kinda racism; she was discovered at 16 and was in exclusive dance schools. Not to say racism doesn’t exist in those places but not enough to have been that bad she is wealthy woman and this article point to something else:

      http://thegloss.com/fashion/naomi-campbell-sisterhood-and-racism-in-fashion/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+b5media%2Fthegloss+%28TheGloss%29