This has been bugging me for months. I’ve tried to ignore it but I can’t stand it any longer. I have to put it out there.
It’s those TV ads for Cadbury chocolate – the ones with doe-eyed kids looking into the camera, all sweet and cute. Aaaah. Break your heart, don’t they?
No. Every time I see those ads I shout at the TV: Why don’t they eat the chocolate? I must have seen those ads a thousand times, probably more, and not once do those insufferably smug urchins take even the merest nibble. Nor do their mums. They don’t even hold the wrapped chocolate bar precariously between thumb and forefinger, brand name square on to the lens, and nip off a corner with their perfect front teeth, like they do in other chocky ads.
What’s wrong with Cadbury chocolate? Isn’t it any good? Maybe they’re afraid the famous glass and a half of full cream dairy milk will pour out all over place.
Let’s back up a little. As far as I can tell, three different Cadbury ads are going around on Australian TV at present. One features a 10-year-old (or thereabouts) naughty boy who sneaks out at night to hose (yep . . . with water) a giant Easter egg out of a tree to give to his younger sister who’s laid up with a broken leg or something. Sis and mum think that’s sweet, while smugly grinning boy pretends to be asleep.
Then there’s the one where a smaller boy is toying with the familiar purple-wrapped bar while sitting on a bus with his mum. Generous mum says he can have one square but then he spots a young female-looking person in the next seat who is apparently crying – well, anyway, she’s sad. He wordlessly offers her the purple object. Next shot, she’s adopted a Giaconda facial expression and the kid is looking, you guessed it, smug.
Finally, a little girl, maybe five or six years old – cute as – asks a kindly, bearded shopkeeper for a bar of chocolate for her mum’s birthday and proffers a handful of buttons and other bric-a-brac in payment. (See above.) Kindly shopkeeper beams a little and gives her a large block of that full cream goodness, plus a small green unicorn as change for her buttons. Aaaaah. She runs off and he glows, yes dammit, smugly.
I mean, these are not terribly unusual expressions of the adman’s art. Little fantasies. Fables. Cuteness. Warm and fuzzy. Sickening. These are stock-in-trade in adworld. But usually, for example, when you are treated to a wonderfully happy family lining up at a famous fast food outlet, they get stuck into the product as enthusiastically as anyone has ever been about anything. Or cars – everybody in new SUVs goes haring all over the countryside, up mountains, through creeks, before dropping off little darlings at their kindy. Or cosmetics – ever see any of those gorgeous, apparently female persons refusing to splosh some allegedly new unguent on their pocky but perfectly formed facades? Etc, etc and etc.
Not in Cadbury country. The cute kids, the kindly mums and the benevolent beards are happy just to hold the purple jewels. A glass and a half of offensive cuteness. Or maybe a glass and a half of cute offensiveness. Either way, they still don’t eat the stuff.
Back in 2018, when Cadbury premiered the girl and the beard, the London ad agency responsible, VCCP, reckoned the vignette was “just honest real life”. A Cadbury exec rejoicing in the fabulous name Benazir Barlet-Batada was quoted on the Adsofbrands website: “In today’s world it’s easy to overlook those small moments of authentic human generosity . . . We want to shine a light on these genuine acts of kindness and true moments of human connection that are occurring every day.”
Give me a break.
What’s happening here is they are selling the sizzle, not the sausage. You have to ask why. The slogan “There’s a glass and a half in every one” offers a clue, I think. No mention of milk, full cream, dairy or otherwise, just a graphic of a white substance being poured. “Full cream dairy milk” disappeared from Cadbury advertising many years ago, along with the quarter-pound block of chocolate to which it was attached because, clearly, whether the line was true of the quarter pounder or not (and I doubt that it was), it could not be in 100 or 50 grams. In any case, the only actual liquid milk likely to be anywhere near chocolate production would be that in the factory’s tearoom fridge. The milk in milk chocolate is powdered or condensed.
Add to that woke sensitivities. Dairy products, especially with, shudder, cream, contribute to childhood obesity and mental distress, as do sugar and fat, of which there are plentiful supplies in chocolate bars, whatever the brand. The sources of chocolate itself are anti-social – cacao beans are grown mostly (two-thirds) in west Africa and harvested by children in slave-like conditions. And don’t mention the industry’s contribution to climate change. Keyboard wowsers would be chock-a-block – oh the pain!
So it’s no wonder adland’s cute kids and their maternal carers don’t eat the stuff on camera, nor that their friendly neighbourhood drug dealer doesn’t keep it in plain sight (he probably sells tobacco as well). The irony is that, according to internet know-all Wikipedia, 100 grams of milk chocolate per day is a good source of essential vitamins (riboflavin and B12 – 19 percent of daily requirements) and minerals (manganese, phosphorous, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron – 10 to 19 per cent).
Cadbury and its agency, Very Cute Consumer Piffle, well know that is not why we like chocolate. We like chocolate for all those things the nutrition nazis and the woke warriors hate. For crying out loud . . . eat it, enjoy it, smile broadly . . . stop snivelling hypocritically around with cuteness and enigmatic grins.
Real life? Bah, humbug!