Whittaker's signed up Nigella Lawson as its mascot back in 2012 when she was still the high priestess of euphemistic domesticity. That reputation changed markedly after the domestic abuse saga and the ensuing divorce proceedings that revealed she had used substances slightly more illicit than five roll refined chocolate. But Whittaker's and its agency Assignment Group have stuck by their woman and just released an ad to promote the Creamy Milk Challenge.
- Watch the ad here.
Even though she has not been charged with anything, Lawson was denied entry into the US recently on account of her drug use, which meant she was ineligible to be granted a visa to enter New Zealand unless given a special direction. That was considered by Immigration New Zealand and eventually her visa application to visit Andrew and Brian was approved.
The Herald wrote recently that "auditions are reportedly being held for an advertisement that may include Lawson approaching people in the street and blindfolding them for chocolate taste tests". And in the ad, it shows Lawson packing her bags to come and stock up on Kiwi chocolate.
Whittaker's marketing manager Holly Whittaker said: "What happened is disappointing, but we are remaining neutral at this stage. What happens in Nigella's personal life is out of our control, but that is the risk you take when engaging with celebrities."
The vast majority of the commentary on Facebook is positive (for example: "Nigella is one of those rare individuals who can shamelessly hawk stuff at me, and far from being offended, I lap it up. She has just the right blend of élan and sauciness. A perfect match for Whittaker's Chocolate as far as I'm concerned"). And in answer to a question about having "a habitual drug user" in its ads, it responded:
We've received a lot of feedback about using Nigella for another of our campaigns. We think Nigella is one of the best and most loved chefs in the world and as such is an awesome ambassador for our chocolate. We hope people will respect the fact that we didn't abandon our relationship with her just because of something she did in her past, especially given the tough time she has had recently. We appreciate her honesty on the matter. In our experience, she is a delight to work with and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with her again.
In other Whittakers news, it recently won a trademark battle against Cadbury, which gave it the right to use the name Berry Forest.