This Cadbury ad shows two well-dressed children wiggling their eyebrows at falsely energetic rates to a goofy tune before fading into the typical four-second Cadbury promotion. Cadbury’s caption offers no further clarification as to the purpose of the video: “We are back with yet another feat of ridiculousness and joy.” The ad is somehow supposed to convince buyers to purchase Cadbury chocolate. There is no chocolate visible in the video, and chocolate is not even offered as the explanation to the hyper eyebrow activity. The target audience of the advertisement is most likely children from Britain (and maybe other high-income countries) who can be entertained by this silly ad.
Instead of simply entertaining, chocolate companies should use their advertisements to shine light on the dire situations of child labor in Africa. The advertisement we designed compares the lives of children in places like America and Europe with the lives of those on African cocoa farms. It does so by juxtaposing the use of a benign object – a basket – put to use in two different ways. In the western communities, a kid’s basket is filled with chocolate as a treat for the holiday celebration of Easter. In Africa, this kid uses a basket to collect and transport cocoa pods. While the Easter celebrations are just one example of the prominent and accessible role of chocolate as a treat in the West, this kid’s contributions are just one example of the child labor practices that sustain the cocoa supply chain in Africa. In Africa, thousands of children work long hours in unsafe conditions for minimal or no compensation. Education is often impossible. This advertisement is intended to inform the public and call attention to the disparities between these children’s lives.
In addition to more purposeful advertisements, chocolate companies should invest their resources in the battle to improve the entire cocoa industry. As is demonstrated by the CNN video in the link below, the media has taken up investigation of child labor within cocoa production. It is in chocolate companies best interests to invest in this change. As the public becomes aware of the dire situation still existing in the cacao supply chains, it is not only imperative that the chocolate companies strive to make a difference in order to keep their business afloat. It is also their moral responsibility to help improve the lives of those they work with. The industry has taken steps, but more is needed. (CNN)
The child labor practices cannot be solved by consumer or company boycott of cocoa farmed by children. Most children in the cocoa industry are working on small family farms. These families have no choice – they need all the helping hands just to make enough money to survive. These farms have no way to move beyond hand-to-mouth production. Boycotting their products would harm these families and their region’s economy more than the chocolate companies. (Ryan) Thus, we must work to reform the entire system, and not just the supply chain of cacao, but the political, economic, and societal practices that keep so many African laborers dependent on the cycle of poverty.
Off finds elegant, if sensational, words to describe the current situation. “As I look at the young faces, the questions in their eyes are the measure of a vast gulf between the children who eat chocolate on their way to school in North America and those who have no school at all, who must, from childhood, work to survive.” This gulf that Off describes is very real; we are very far from closing the “distance between the hand that picks the cocoa and the hand that reaches for the chocolate bar.” However, with meaningful and responsible investment from chocolate companies, we can hope to make progress against the cycle of poverty that enslaves so many cocoa laborers.
Cadbury Eyebrows (official version). 1/23/09. Youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVblWq3tDwY
CNN. Can the chocolate industry change its ways. The CNN Freedom Project. Video 3/6/14. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/category/chocolates-child-slaves/
Off, Carol. 2008. Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet. pp. 1-8, 119-161
Ryan, Orla. 2011. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. pp. 43-62
Images for created ad:
Easter kids. Professor Smarty Pots. Science Blog. https://smartypots.wordpress.com/tag/science-laboratory/
African kid with basket of cocoa. The Frog Blog. Eradicating child labour- how Rainforest Alliance certification can help. http://thefrogblog.org.uk/2010/06/12/eradicating-child-labour-how-rainforest-alliance-certification-can-help/