Subtle Yet Loud: Racial Inequality in Cadbury Bournville Advertisement

Western and European countries have had a history of depicting the world from the point of view as dominant, white males. The advertisements of chocolate, which is highly threaded with food, politics and slavery, have many examples of advertisements in which the big industries mislead the consumer to think that the farmers take part in the trade market of cocoa and chocolate (Leissle). Although some may argue that many of the industries’ advertisements are unintended and unfortunate consequences of the stereotypes from the long history of slavery and consumers reacting, the industries have the obligation to put every effort into depicting their consumers and others involved with respect.  In addition, Critical Race Theory, which states that racism is ordinary and not “aberrational,” strongly encourages consumers to educate themselves and to press for anti-racist themes (Martin). On a similar note, the consumers have the obligation to push back against advertisements with sexual and racial stereotypes as well as false depiction of underprivileged groups of people, such as cocoa farmers.

One of Cadbury’s products called Bournville is advertised to be the “elite” chocolate that Cadbury produces. Bournville takes pride from being “made with the best chocolate in Ghana.” There is no problem with how the company describes its chocolate; however, its advertisement called, “sob” depicts African American farmers in a ridiculous light. Cadbury’s ad reinforces the racial stereotype of servile status of the African American farmers. In one of the scenes of the advertisement, the cocoa bean that was rejected starts crying and one of the farmers slaps it away from the table. All the farmers around the table stares aghast at the man while the man grins widely to the white man. This disturbing scene is showing that the farmers are trying to please the white man—even to reject the product of their own hard work. In addition to an African American man flattering a white man, the ad also illustrates farmers crowded around a table worriedly overlooking a white man in a suit inspecting each cocoa bean. The scene falsely implies that Cadbury Company goes through the pain of inspecting each cacao bean and that the farmers take part in cacao market. In the real cacao bean market, the farmers are rarely paid, let alone visited, by the companies buying the cacao beans and are not able to take a part in the cacao bean market (Leissle). Also, the farmers’ pride in their occupation and production of fine cacao beans is shown in many interviews and documentaries, such as in “Chocolate Country.”

Picture1
An ad made by my partner and me ridiculing two most notable features of the racist Cadbury advertisement. (this image was taken from Cadbury Bournville’s Sob commercial video)

My partner and I decided to ridicule the false depiction of the farmers and the racism underlying Cadbury’s Bournville advertisement by putting sarcastic captions in our advertisement. One caption says, “only every cacao from Ghana goes into making Bournville,” hinting that the industry rarely checks the quality of the chocolate. Another caption reads, “Made from the best cocoa inspected by one British dude in a suit” which ridicules how ridiculous the idea of a man in a suit inspecting quality of a bean at a time sounds.

Works cited:

“Cadbury Bournville Sob.” YouTube. Cadbury, Web. 03 Apr. 2015.

“Chocolate Country Trailer” YouTube. Taza Chocolate. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24.2 (2012): 121-139.

Martin, Carla. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. 6 Apr 2015.

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