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The New York Times has a story about how a new promotion from British candy manufacturer has enraged the archaeological community there, with one curator describing it as “quite possibly the most shocking, ill-advised & irresponsible” campaigns in memory, since it “actively promotes the gleeful destruction of archaeological sites and undermines years of public heritage education.”

So what did Cadbury do to earn so much hostility?

According to the Times, “The company recently marketed its Freddo Treasures chocolates with an advertising campaign that urged consumers to ‘grab your metal detector and go hunting for Roman riches’ and other artifacts at specific sites around Britain and Ireland. A website for the campaign suggested that adventurers ‘dig up Viking silver on the River Ribble,’ ‘hunt for precious rings in Fermanagh’ and ‘mine for Saxon gold in Chelmsford, Essex’.”

The thing is, digging up anything at such sites isn’t just immoral and unethical. It also is illegal, something the British government has made clear to Cadbury.

Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury, said in a statement quoted by the Times that “it had not meant ‘to encourage anyone to break existing regulations regarding the discovery of new archaeological artifacts.’ The company said it had taken down the website and was working on ‘directing families to museums where existing treasures can be found’.”
KC's View:
It may be a little late. Seems like a pretty good bet that some idiot will be arrested for bringing a shovel to some protected site … though maybe a little less likely in England than in America, where history is regarded by too many people as something that happened last week.

I do think that this misstep reinforces an ideas for which I have long argued here and elsewhere - that companies need to create cultures in which at least one person at the tables where decisions are made has the responsibility to disagree with the conclusions of the majority. That’s the lesson of World War Z, by the way … and I think it is critical that group-think be challenged whenever and wherever possible. (I rent out my services as a professional contrarian for such purposes, just FYI … which would amaze the Dominican nuns and Irish Christian Brothers who would regularly smack me around for asking questions.)