A Cadbury advertisement for Bliss — a "dreamy chocolate truffle" — includes the tagline, "Move over Naomi, there's a new diva in town." So… there can be only one pampered brown thing in the UK at a time? And is the company really comparing Naomi Campbell to a chocolate bar?
That's how Ms. Campbell sees it. The supermodel is threatening to sue Cadbury. In a statement, Campbell fumed:
"I'm shocked. It's upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women. It is insulting and hurtful."
Well… Your mileage may vary, as they say. It's definitely not cool for a major corporation to trade on Naomi's name and history of diva behavior to sell their product. Not illegal, but kind of a dick move and been there/done that joke. But when it comes to chocolate and black people, one person's offensive statement is another person's city nickname.
Parliament Funkadelic released the album Chocolate City in 1975, but chocolate as a descriptor for black people has a rich (heh) history. That said: Like many slang terms, just because a black person uses it doesn't mean a non-black person (or major corporation) can use it. Phrases like "sexual chocolate" and "chocolate love" are fun for a minute, but stop and examine what they do. Comparing a black person to chocolate reduces an entire race to a skintone. It diminishes a complex human being to a dainty treat created for pleasure. On a planet with a history of enslaving and buying and selling black people as chattel, using the word chocolate as a descriptor is objectification, pure and simple. It hasn't been that long since black people were considered pieces of property; there are plenty of slave receipts still in existence — paper documents with dollar values placed on human beings, alongside comments on the health, strength (and sometimes teeth) of the person being sold. Most black people are no longer enslaved, but we are by no means free of objectification. So if Naomi — or any other black person — finds chocolate offensive, that's her —and their - prerogative.
The upside? Cadbury claims the ad is no longer running. And states: "We would never produce any type of marketing we felt might cause offense to any section of society." Or, perhaps, do so, generate buzz, and then pull the campaign?
Naomi Campbell Rips Cadbury Ad Likening Her to a Chocolate Bar [AdWeek]
Naomi Campbell calls Cadbury's Naomi Campbell ad racist [Copyranter]
Naomi Campbell In Race Row Over Cadbury Chocolate [Independent]
Naomi Goes Loco On Cocoa [NY Post]