Chocolate firm Cadbury has been accused of racism and perpetuating colonial stereotypes of African people in its latest advertising campaign. A poster and television advert created in Ghana for Dairy Milk has infuriated a number of prominent
equality campaigners and Ghanaian leaders in the UK.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) meets this week to discuss initiating a formal investigation into Cadbury's TV advert - slogan show us your cocoa beam - which features a giant, negroid rotating head that unleashes mass dancing among
what appear to be highly excitable people in an African village.
The advert and an associated poster campaign mark the chocolate firm's move to Fairtrade, but critics say this move has been overshadowed by the campaign's portrayal of African people as buffooning simpletons .
Toyin Agbetu, the founder of Ligali, a UK-based African human rights organisation, said: The video makes Africans look like buffooning simpletons. The biggest presence on the advert is a giant mask that people fall about in front of. Part of being
able to use the Fairtrade brand should also include a responsibility to advertise ethically.
Paul Epworth, a British producer, was flown out to produce the advert, which is also online as a full-length music video to raise money for Care International. The song Zingolo features Ghanaian musicians, but Mr Agbetu said: The fact that
Ghanaian musicians and artists were involved is sad, but it does not excuse it.
Nii Armah Akomfrah, the chairman of the UK branch of the Ghanaian political opposition group the Convention People's Party, has sent a letter of complaint to the Cadbury board on behalf of his party and British Ghanaians. He said Ghanaian groups in
the UK will protest outside the chocolate producer's headquarters in Birmingham if the advert is not taken off air. People are disappointed. It's like making an advert about America and only showing images of Harlem, he said. It's a colonial
mentality and stuff like this just brings the country down.
Cadbury said it had been made aware of the ASA complaints and was co-operating fully. Phil Rumbol, the marketing director at Cadbury, said: We completely reject these allegations. This campaign has been widely welcomed by Ghanaians, including
community leaders both in Ghana and in the UK.
The advertising censor, ASA has cleared Cadbury of racism and perpetuating colonial stereotypes of African people in its latest TV advertising campaign.
Cadbury's campaign featured Ghanaian musician Tinny and aimed to promote the chocolate brand's tie-up with the Fairtrade organisation for cocoa from the African nation for its Dairy Milk range.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 29 complaints that the TV campaign was demeaning to African people and perpetuated racial stereotypes.
However, the ASA's council has decided not to formally investigate the complaints. Although the council acknowledges that Cadbury had used stereotypes in their ads, they felt that the stereotypes were not harmful or offensive, said the ASA,
which argued that most ads use some form of stereotype device to get a message across.