As Easter approaches, more than 30,000 people have signed a petition asking Cadbury Crème Eggs to remove an advertisement featuring a same-sex kiss.
The United Kingdom-based chocolatier Cadbury released an advertisement on Jan. 4 celebrating the 50th anniversary of its signature Crème Eggs, referring to the occasion as a “golden goobilee.”
The commercial, which runs for nearly a minute, demonstrates several ways to consume and prepare the chocolate eggs, highlighting “lickers,” “bakers,” “eggsperts,” “dippers” and “discreaters.”
A roughly six-second segment from the latter portion of the commercial, which targets “sharers,” has received significant blowback from social conservatives.
“A recent advertisement for Cadbury’s Crème Eggs features a gay couple engaged in a highly-charged sexually provocative act,” a petition launched by the socially conservative group CitizenGo explains.
“In a show of affection, the couple uses their lips and tongue to exchange the contents of a crème egg; an image which many customers have complained is both disgusting and off-putting,” the petition continued.
“By choosing to feature a same-sex couple, Cadbury’s are clearly hoping to cause controversy and escape criticism, by claiming that any objections must be rooted in ‘homophobia,’ but members of the LGBT community have also expressed their dislike of this campaign.”
The petition, launched on Feb. 15, is addressed to Guy Parker, the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority's chief executive, and Louise Stigant, the managing director of Cadbury UK.
The petition asks the ASA, which regulates commercials in the United Kingdom, to “immediately withdraw the advert from mainstream circulation,” citing the “sexual objectification” featured in the ad as a violation of the ASA’s code of conduct.
The ASA has not hesitated in banning advertisements featuring “sexual objectification” in the past.
A 2017 advertisement for the shaving company Femfresh that zeroes in on scantily clad women’s bikini lines as they danced suggestively was banned for its presentation in “an overly-sexualised way that objectified women.”
The CitizensGo petition contends that if the couple in the advertisement were “heterosexual,” the ad would likely be prohibited due to the “sexually explicit and graphic nature of the kiss.”
The petition accuses Cadbury of “trying to cause gratuitous offence to members of the Christian community during the most important feast in their calendar” and that the advertisement poses a danger to the impressionable minds of young children, a target audience of the chocolate company.
“Cadbury’s know full-well that their product is enjoyed by children and deliberately market it at this demographic, making this campaign even more irresponsible,” the campaign argues. “Cadbury’s is traditionally a brand associated with families. Exposing children to sexualized content constitutes a form of grooming. It is well-known that children will often copy what they see on the screen.”
A boycott was launched by the conservative group One Million Moms, well-known in the United States for its opposition to the promotion of homosexuality. The campaign urges Americans not to purchase Cadbury Crème Eggs.
Warning that “Cadbury just might bring this ad to American television for your children to see,” One Million Moms asserts that “taking a stand now will send a strong signal that their eggs are cracked up.”
So far, more than 30,000 people have signed on in support of the One Million Moms statement addressed to Cadbury, which takes issue with their “social agenda to promote homosexuality.”
“Your latest ad offends me and many other Christians who celebrate Easter with reverence and respect,” the letter crafted by the conservative group states. “I won’t be buying your products either. I’m taking Cadbury Crème Eggs off my shopping list. Please stick to making chocolates and candies, not political and social statements.”
In response to the criticism, Cadbury released a statement to Premier Christian News asserting that “Cadbury has always been a progressive brand that spreads a message of inclusion, whether it is through products or brand campaigns.”
The company expressed pride in its “clip of a real life couple sharing a Cadbury Crème Egg” featured in the advertisement, indicating that it has no intention of pulling the commercial any time soon.
This is not the first time Cadbury has faced criticism from Christians.
In 2017, the egg company removed the word “Easter” from promotions for its annual egg hunt for children and families, citing a desire to “invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats.” The decision faced pushback from the Church of England and then-Prime Minister Theresa May.