This advert was produced by Cadbury in order to promote their new ‘Dairy Milk Bliss Bar’. This ‘racist’ advert resulted in the company publicly apologizing to Naomi Campbell and the advert being removed.
The advert was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek play on Campbell's reputation for diva-style tantrums and behaviour yet turned out to be distasteful and offensive to many black people.
The advert attempts to use humour as a persuasive technique but it fails as it is extremely inappropriate to compare a black person to a chocolate bar. According to a review by Weinberger and Gulas (1992) humour is by no means the solution to a great ad but careful planning of the audience, the message and type of humour used, it can be very successful. This is where Cadbury fails. They clearly did not plan a suitable message for the intended female audience and did not forward think the consequences even though they claim racism was unintentional.
More recent research conducted by Chung & Zaho (2009) looked into the use of humour and brand familiarity. In this study, participants watched real advertisements which were either familiar brands (e.g. Yahoo) or unfamiliar brands (e.g Smart Beep) and humorous (e.g Gatorade ) or unhumorous (e.g Norfolk) . Each advert was pretested to rate levels of humour. After watching participants were then self-measured on different ratings scales including memory of ad contents, perceived humour and attitude towards the ad. Results showed that humour was more effective (more positive attitudes towards the advert and brand) when the brand was unfamiliar than familiar to the participant. This suggests that Cadbury do not need to attempt to be humorous in their advertisements as they are already well known, familiar household brand and should stick to simple advertising of their products.
Chung, H. & Zaho, X. (2009). The effects of humour on ad processing: Mediating role of brand familiarity. Journal of Promotion Management, 17, 76-95.
Weinberger, M. G., & Gulas, C. S. (1992). The impact of humour in advertising: a review. Journal of Advertising, 21, 35-60.