The campaign ran through the summer this year in Canada. All you had to do was buy a Caramilk or Dairy Milk or Dentyne gum etc. and send in the UPC code. For every hundred codes, Cadbury donated one bicycle, until the number reached 5 thousand.
Here’s the feel-good commercial that accompanied the campaign.
Instead of feeling inspired though, I was disturbed by the following:
1. Can we assume Canadians had an altruistic motive in participating? Come on, they only had to buy a chocolate bar. Hardly seems like selfless sacrifice…
2. Cadbury’s (the confection division of Cadbury Schweppes) revenue last year was over USD $5 Billion. I estimate the cost of this promotion for them to be about USD $225,000 or roughly twenty two thousand times less than their profits. Hardly seems like a HUGE sacrifice on their part either really.
3. Therefore this smells like a MASSIVE promotion for the Cadbury brand at little cost, and I’m not sure what impact.
4. My other concern is with the implications of the advert. They show the ‘African child’ using the bicycle as the following:
a. An ambulance – This is pathetic and sad but true. By showcasing this, Ghana is forced to admit that there is no healthcare in rural areas, and kids with bicycles will be expected to carry ill people to far off hospitals. The unimplied but more disturbing issue is the complete lack of facilities that will be awaiting them when they arrive.
b. A water truck – Hello! What happened to the millions and millions of wells donated and dug by the hundreds of NGOs over the years? Again, Ghana admits there is no safe drinking water for miles upon miles… and a kid on a bicycle is the answer????!!!!
c. A school bus – well as Canadians, the first thing that should strike us is the complete and utter lack of safety depicted here. The video shows 4 people on one bicycle – with a toddler sitting in the front basket, completely unharnessed. Over the untarred roads of rural Ghana. I guess it’s the assumption that if you can get 4 kids to school whatever way possible, then you’ve done your part – throw safety out the window, afterall they’re only African kids who would have had to walk anyway… There is no inference in this advert that of the small percentage of rural kids who actually go to school, most can expect to spend half their time labouring on their 'teachers' farms...
So thanks Canadians for eating more chocolate, making Cadbury richer and helping Africa by asking 5000 lucky juvenile recipients to solve Africa’s massive problems with bicycles!!!
Cadbury has been under fire recently for exploitative fair trade marketing, so it’s no wonder they are aiming to boost their reputation as a caring community oriented company.
According to Toyin Agbetu, head of Education and Social policy at Ligali, “Cadbury has a long history of exploitative behavior in Ghana. It was formed in England by the Quakers in 1900 and moved to what was then called the ‘Gold Coast’ in 1907. Its rampant abuse of the system of colonial enslavement in order to extract the best quality cocoa beans made the company the huge profits it enjoys today.”
What exactly constitutes fair trade status? In Cadbury’s case, they have agreed to pay $150 per tonn of cocoa above the minimum market price.
I posted a recent advert Cadbury’s released, promoting their fair trade brand of chocolate from Ghanaian cocoa. Agbetu points out that the advert alone “is likely to have cost more to make than their ‘social premium’ (of $150 per tonn) could generate in usable revenue each year.”
Sorry Brett - I tried to get positive about this one. It's great the kids got some bikes, but if you ask me, Cadbury's got a whole lot more out of the deal. And Canadians got to feel good about splurging on chocolate. Hmmmm.