Cadbury rapped for 'insensitive' gum ads

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising, United kingdom, Cadbury

A series of adverts for Cadbury's best-selling gum brand, Trident,
have been pulled from UK television after viewers found them
'offensive and racist' - leading to a flurry of negative
publicity over the gum's first introduction to the UK market.

The adverts showed a black man with a strong Caribbean accent becoming increasingly excited about Trident gum. Each advert ended with the character shouting his 'mastication for the nation'​ catchphrase. Cadbury claimed the campaign, aimed at Trident's core audience of 16 to 34 year olds, had been thoroughly researched with input from members of the African Caribbean community and was designed to promote the Trident brand as 'adventurous, youthful, playful and distinctive.' ​The company explained the adverts were an attempt to present Caribbean culture by focussing on one part of it - dub poetry. The central character is a poet who is attempting to start a 'gum revolution'. Cadbury stressed the campaign was intended as a tongue-in-cheek representation of that society. ​The attempt at humour fell flat however as the adverts attracted a total of 519 complaints with viewers accusing the company of being 'offensive and racist'.​ After investigating the complaints, the ASA ruled that the Cadbury adverts were not offensive or racist but had breached advertising codes relating to stereotyping and causing offence to viewers. One in five of the British African Caribbean sample approached by the ASA found the ads offensive with some describing the campaign as humiliating and a negative depiction of black or Caribbean people. The ASA said: "We noted that greater sensitivity was required of advertisers using humour based on accents, because of the potential to cause serious offence, especially if it could be seen to be patronising or demeaning to groups of people who were generally recognised to have encountered prejudice." ​Withdrawal of the ads will be a big blow to Cadbury marketing, especially as Trident was only introduced to the UK gum market at the start of this year. The company hope the brand will rival those from competitor Wrigley in the UK - one of the top ten gum markets worldwide. Trident, which recorded 20 per cent growth last year, was acquired by the Cadbury in 2002 when it took over Adams confectionery business in a deal worth £2.7bn (€4bn).

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