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ASA says Cadbury was not racist when it compared Campbell to chocolate bar

  • @adamsherwin10

A Cadbury's advertising campaign which compared Naomi Campbell to a bar of chocolate was not racist, the industry's watchdog has ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) threw out complaints over the print advertisement which the model said was racially offensive.

The advert for Cadbury's Bliss range of Dairy Milk chocolate ran with the strapline "move over Naomi, there's a new diva in town".

Campbell said she was "shocked" by the advert, which "was in poor taste on a number of levels, not least in the way they likened me to their chocolate bar". Her mother, Valerie, said the model was "deeply upset by this racist advert".

Cadbury defended the advert, which ran on billboards and in magazines, arguing that it intended to poke fun at her reputation as a diva and that no link to her skin colour was intended. Later, the company withdrew the advert after taking legal advice and apologised to Campbell.

After receiving four complaints, including one from Operation Black Vote, which called the campaign an "insult" to black women, the council of the ASA launched an investigation.

It found the ad did not breach its code on racism. The watchdog concluded it was "likely to be understood to refer to Naomi Campbell's reputation for 'diva-style' behaviour rather than her race. On this basis the council decided that the ad was unlikely to be seen as racist or to cause serious or widespread offence."

Campbell believes that Cadbury, owned by the US food giant Kraft, would not have produced the campaign if the company employed more black staff. She said Cadbury, and other companies, would benefit from a "greater diversity at board and senior management level".

Cadbury's apology to Campbell was issued after the Rev Al Sharpton, the US civil rights activist, raised the prospect of a global consumer boycott unless Cadbury responded to Campbell's complaint.