The advertising campaign for the launch of Cadbury Schweppes’ Trident chewing gum, featuring a Jamaican stand-up comic, has triggered more than 50 complaints from consumers who think it is racist.
The ad, created by JWT, shows the Jamaican man on stage in a comedy club bemoaning the blandness of chewing gum. He is given a pack of Trident, and is so impressed by the taste that he goes on a one-man crusade to promote "Mastication for the Nation".
The ad ends with the comedian floating down the Thames past the Houses of Parliament on a barge, using a megaphone to promote his message to passers-byAn Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) spokeswoman confirms the ad watchdog has had a significant number of complaints, all apparently on the grounds of racism. The ASA has not yet decided whether to launch a formal investigation.
The campaign is also likely to be attacked for encouraging anti-social behaviour. In addition to the TV ads, there is an integrated campaign which includes a website where visitors can download graffiti-like images, in the stencil style of artist Banksy.
The site also encourages visitors to take part in "revolutionary activity" and then post pictures and videos showing their work. Examples on the site include a large "Mastication for the Nation" poster apparently placed on top of Nelson’s Column and a defaced street sign. The best picture submitted each month will win a year’s supply of gum.
A number of the complaints the ASA has received have specifically mentioned the Web activity.
A sampling campaign – the Mastication for the Nation 2007 Tour – runs until April.