Cadbury Picnic ad banned by ad watchdog for negative portrayal of Indian man

Mondelez has been censured by the Advertising Standards Board for its Cadbury Picnic ‘Obey your Mouth’ TV ad for negatively stereotyping Indian people.

A complaint submitted to the industry watchdog argued the spot “exploits the often used caricature of the ethnic stereotype; the stereotypical Indian accent with the cliche Indian caricature demeanour”.

Mondelez defended the ad, telling the ASB that it “aims to bring to life in a joyful and light-hearted way, the concept of our mouth craving for certain things at certain times, and in a humorous manner, suggests we obey these cravings”.

“The TVC was designed to appeal to our consumers and in no way intended to offend or or insult,” the confectionary company said.

“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.

“According to the last census, approximately 43% of Australians have at least one parent who was born overseas and 30% of the population were born in another country. Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages,” Mondelez said.

“The TVC is simply reflective of the diversity of Australia’s population and given the humorous tone of the advertisement, does not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race or ethnicity.”

While a minority of the ASB board considered the use of an Indian man was a “reflection of the diversity of Australian culture and the scene is an exaggerated and humorous parody of the inaudible announcements frequently heard at airports and railway stations”, the majority of the board considered the depiction of the Indian man was negative and perpetuated a stereotype.

It was the board’s view that the ad did depict material that discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, thus the complaint was upheld.

Mondelez said it was “disappointed” with the ruling.

“The ad has been off air for a number of weeks now and will not return.”


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