Cadbury Trebor Bassett has been forced to axe the £10m TV campaign for Trident, its biggest product launch of the year, following hundreds of complaints that the ad was racist and showed “harmful stereotypes”.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling against the advertising for chewing gum brand is a major blow to the confectionery giant’s launch plans. At the same time rival US-based Wrigley is reported to be considering bringing legal action against the UK confectionery giant because it believes it has broken competition rules with the launch.
The brand has been seen by City analysts as a “successful launch” in the UK and has already built a 15.4% (AC Nielsen) market share, since it was introduced at the start of February.
But one analyst says that now is an important time for encouraging repeat purchase of the range and it is “a bit of pain” that the TV has been pulled. He adds: Cadbury will have to come up with something to replace it pretty quickly.”
The campaign, which was created by JWT, triggered 519 complaints to the ASA, which has ruled that the ads are offensive. It says the four TV executions and cinema ads should not be shown again because they breach broadcasting rules.
One ad showed a black man speaking in rhyme with a strong Caribbean accent and other executions show white people speaking in rhyme in Caribbean accents.
Viewers complained that the exaggerated behaviour and strong accents were a humiliating and negative depiction of black or Caribbean people.
Cadbury says the advertising was only due to run until March 11 and that it had “no definitive date” for when it was due to run again before it was banned. A Cadbury spokesman says that it has “a full programme of events of advertising in 2007 in the UK” but it would not reveal any further details.
The confectionery giant adds that it was disappointed by the ruling because the ads had been “carefully researched” and were approved by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC). However, Cadbury’s own research revealed that approximately one in five of the British African Caribbean sample had found the ads offensive.
The ASA did not uphold the complaint that, because Trident was the name of the Metropolitan Police’s “black-on-black” gun crime initiative, the ads were offensive and insensitive.
The ASA adds that Trident chewing gum is a global brand that has existed for over 40 years.