We regret to inform you that chocolate bastion of British childhoods Freddo has been cancelled.
Not in the sense that he'll stop being produced (although he'll probably cost a fiver after Brexit), but in the sense that he's been caught encouraging children to break the law and go looting on the weekends, and thus we can no longer support his froggy ways.
The Cadbury Treasure Island campaign is intended to promote Freddo Treasures, a new spin on the old frog to compete with Kinder Surprise:
That cartoon Freddo is nightmare material.
Also nightmare material is the possibility of being arrested for following the instructions on the Cadbury Treasures promotional website, which has been down all day as a result of stinging criticism on social media.
The website told kids to grab a metal detector and go looking for treasure on ancient historical sites, something that is not only a terrible idea but could actually result in legal problems. Historians and archaeologists have absolutely destroyed Cadbury on Twitter, starting with Dr Aisling Tierney:
Archaeology rage face:
What are Cadbury playing at? Innocent looking Freddo "treasure chest" treats have QR code that links to this bullcrap@CadburyUK @BAJRjobs @InstituteArch #archaeologyhttps://t.co/n4GqtQJ6e9 pic.twitter.com/gDIo7vCW8N
— Dr Aisling Tierney (@IrishAshyT) March 16, 2019
And swiftly followed by many others:
This is quite possibly the most shocking, ill-advised & irresponsible ‘heritage engagement’ campaigns I have ever seen.
— Museum Ian (@trumerz) March 16, 2019
Hey, @CadburyUK, archaeology =/= treasure hunting! This campaign is wholly irresponsible and promotes the illegal destruction and looting of our shared heritage. I suggest you stick to making shite chocolate eggs and pull this campaign. https://t.co/CiZi7d70b4
— Jamie Barnes (@archaeodinosaur) March 16, 2019
As an archaeologist, I find it really worrying that @CadburyUK are encouraging kids to dig protected landscapes without any consideration of archaeological work, preservation, research or even the legality of “treasure hunting” aka looting 🙃 #Cadbury #cadburytreasurehunt pic.twitter.com/eGDsUUVP8y
— Emily 🐢 (@emilyrjohnston) March 16, 2019
And @CadburyUK need reminding metal detecting is illegal in Ireland without a licence, there's a fine of €126000+ or 12 months imprisonment. Not much snack based fun in that eh?
— Lorna-Jane Richardson (@lornarichardson) March 16, 2019
Even the National Trust had a go:
Have been in touch with our head of archaeology and National comms team this morning to make them aware of this. Utterly appalling.
— National Trust Archaeology (@NatTrustArch) March 16, 2019
You know you've fucked up when you upset the National Trust.
Dan Hicks, Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at Oxford University, wrote a large thread pointing out various problems with the campaign, including the potential legal implications of taking Cadbury's advice at face value:
Such a campaign could lead people to breaking the law by:
a) Damaging a scheduled monument
c) Theft or crimimal damage to a landowners' property
d) Metal detecting with no license (in some cases)
e) Not reporting finds of treasure within 14 days (Treasure Act 1996)
— Dan Hicks (@profdanhicks) March 16, 2019
Cadbury's PR team, meanwhile, is presumably wishing it was also #buried somewhere underground right now. The company told the BBC:
"It was not our intention to encourage anyone to break existing rules regarding the discovery of new archaeological artefacts and we are grateful this matter has been brought to our attention."
It says it's in the process of updating the website to stop encouraging people to go looting as a fun family activity on the weekend. Nice work, Freddo, you chocolate wally.
Main image: Cadbury via Twitter