Mondelez, the company behind Cadbury, has removed all evidence of an “Obey Your Mouth” ad which has been ruled racist by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).
This TVC shows an Indian man’s lips speaking really fast as he announces flight details. The man who is speaking puts tissues in his mouth to try and stop talking but the tissue falls out and his lips keep moving in an exaggerated manner as the man continues to speak quickly.
The “Obey Your Mouth” TVC has already been removed from Cadbury’s social pages, YouTube and website. But a potato-quality video has been uploaded:
A complaint argued the spot “exploits the often used caricature of the ethnic stereotype; the stereotypical Indian accent with the cliche Indian caricature demeanour”.
The full complaint:
“The advertisement exploits the often used caricature of the ethnic stereotype; the stereotypical Indian accent with the cliché Indian caricature demeanour.
There are more than 147,100 Indians residing in Australia, yet we don’t see Indians ever being portrayed on commercial Australian television in the various capacities that they in fact function within the numerous communities throughout Australia as doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc speaking in Australian accents, mixed accents and so on. Instead, on the incredibly rare occasion that an Indian is seen on Australian television, he/she is portrayed in the most stereotypical and offensive manner. One member of my family actually asked “why do Australians always make fun of our accents if we’re ever seen on TV.
When attending speech therapy I came across people with severe facial grimaces just like in the Cadbury advertisement. Advertisements like this can undo all the good that has been done, because stutterers can mimic and remind themselves of bad occurrences.
Mondelez argued the TVC was designed to appeal to its consumers and in no way intended to offend. “The TVC does not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community.
“Given the humorous and light-heated tone of the advertisement and the fictional/fanciful nature of the animations, it is obvious that this imagery is not reflective of a real life situation and viewers will comprehend it as such.”
But the ASB argued ‘no deal’, the majority of the Board considered that the depiction of the announcer as an Indian man with a strong accent, in an advertisement which highlights his inability to be understood, is presenting him in a negative way and does perpetuate a stereotype that would generally be considered to be a negative stereotype of a person from a particular racial background.
In response to the decision a Mondelez representative said: “Thanks very much for the time you have taken to review our response relating to these complaints. While we’re disappointed, we fully accept the board’s decision. The ad has been off air for a number of weeks now and will not return.”