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The UK's Ad council said that a recent ad from Kraft's Cadbury brand was "likely to be understood to refer to Naomi Campbell's reputation for 'diva-style' behavior rather than her race".

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 21 june 2011

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This article titled “Cadbury’s Naomi Campbell ad not racist, rules watchdog” was written by Mark Sweney, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 20th June 2011 12.25 UTC

The advertising watchdog has thrown out complaints accusing an ad by Cadbury of racism for comparing model Naomi Campbell to a bar of chocolate.

This decision follows an assessment by the council of the Advertising Standards Authority on whether to launch an investigation to see if the press campaign is in breach of the advertising code relating to racism.

The press ad for Cadbury’s Bliss range of Dairy Milk chocolate – which ran with the strapline “move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town” – provoked outrage from the supermodel as well as campaigning group Operation Black Vote.

Campbell said she was shocked by the ad, while her mother Valerie said she was “deeply upset by this racist advert”.

Cadbury initially defended the campaign, saying it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek play on her reputation for diva-style tantrums and had nothing to do with her skin colour.

However, after taking took legal advice Cadbury withdrew the campaign and made a public apology on its corporate website.

The ASA assessed four complaints, including one from Operation Black Vote which branded the campaign an “insult” to black women, and has concluded that there are “no grounds for an investigation”.

The complainants objected that the ad was racially offensive because it compared a black woman to a bar of chocolate.

However, the ASA council said that the ad was “likely to be understood to refer to Naomi Campbell’s reputation for ‘diva-style’ behaviour rather than her race”.

“On this basis the council decided that the ad was unlikely to be seen as racist or to cause serious or widespread offence,” the ASA added.

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