Cadbury ad pulled by Ad Standards

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th August 2016

A Cadbury television advertisement promoting Picnic chocolate bars has been banned by the Advertising Standards Board.

The board determined that the ad, which includes an Indian man speaking very quickly in an accent, depicted a negative stereotype of an Indian man.

The advertisement and the compliant

The ad sees the man reading out flight departure details at an airport. As the ad progresses, he reads faster and says all the flights are departing now. The man tries to put tissues in his mouth but his voice only returns to normal speed after he bites into a Cadbury Picnic bar.

Advertising Standards received a complaint saying “the advertisement exploits the often used caricature of the ethnic stereotype; the stereotypical Indian accent with the cliché Indian caricature demeanour”.

The complainant claimed that Indians are rarely seen on Australian television and when they are, they are portrayed “in the most stereotypical and offensive manner”.

The complainant was also concerned it could be offensive or damaging to people with speech impediments.

“When attending speech therapy I came across people with severe facial grimaces just like in the Cadbury advertisement. Advertisements like this can undo all the good that has been done, because stutters can mimic and remind themselves of bad occurrences,” the compliant said.

Cadbury’s response

Owner of the Cadbury brand in Australia, Mondelez International, provided an in-depth response to all aspects of the complaint, including saying that it never intended to offend or insult anyone.

“The television commercial aims to bring to life in a joyful and light-hearted way, the concept of our mouth cravings for certain things at certain times, and in a humorous manner, suggest we obey these cravings,” Mondelez said as part of its response.

Mondelez stated the ad was part of a series of advertisements including every day Australians having their mouths ‘taken over’ by cravings for Cadbury chocolate. It said the inclusion of the Indian man was simply meant to be reflective of Australia’s diversity and not meant to discriminate or vilify.

The Board’s reasoning

The Advertising Standards Board said its decision was consistent with a 2011 decision regarding a stereotypical depiction of an Indian man.

“The majority of the Board considered that despite the humour of the advertisement the stereotypical depiction shows the man as having a strong accent and the overall depiction is negative as the man is unable to be understood (whether due to his accent or the technology), being unable to control his mouth, and at one point, stuffing a tissue in this mouth, all making him appear ridiculous,” the Board stated.

The concern regarding offense to those with speech impediments was dismissed with the Board saying it felt it was just part of the ad’s humour and the “chaotic mix up” being played out. The board did not believe those with a disability or physical illness would likely share this concern.

Responding to the Board’s decision, Mondelez said whilst it was disappointed in the decision it accepts it.

“The ad has been off air for a number of weeks now and will not return,” Mondelez stated.