Chocolate advertising often focuses on women and heterosexual couples, and includes one-dimensional portrayals of gender and sexuality (Robertson, 2009). Specifically, women are often portrayed as having a sexualized relationship with chocolate. This can be seen in a simple Google search for “woman eating chocolate,” in which many the majority of the first ten images that show up have a woman eating chocolate in a sexualized manner.
Marketing towards women often includes romanticism, desire, self-indulgence, and luxury, giving women a stereotype of untamed passions, excess, and self-indulgence (Stevens et al., 2003). Advertising often portrays women as “consummate consumers” whose bodies control them and are not able to resist temptations of pleasures (Stevens et al., 2003). This sexual relationship between women and the product she is consuming is often over the top, as seen in the commercial for 1848 chocolate presented here.
In this advertisement, the woman opens the wrapper of chocolate, and then seems to enter a dream in which she goes through the entire process of making the chocolate herself. She imagines that she started with the cacao pods, and the commercial goes through many different visually stimulating images (such as dusting cocoa powder on her face, or pouring chocolate liquor on herself) to get to the final product of chocolate, which the woman bites into. Throughout the whole ad, the woman is sighing in a sexual way, as if this dream is building up sexual tension until that is all released when she bites into chocolate (perhaps a metaphor for an orgasm). The sexual nature of the 1848 commercial gives the illusion that the woman in the commercial did not need a partner, because she already has one – chocolate. Chocolate satisfies her sexual desires, and thus, she does not need a human sexual partner.
This advertisement is typical of many chocolate commercials from now and from the past. (Robertson, 2009) For example, Robertson points to advertisements by the chocolate company Aero in the 1930s, stating that women are “…urged to listen to their desires in an implicitly sexualized discourse: ‘Do you know that when you get an urge to each chocolate, you shouldn’t resist – there’s a deep physical reason for it?'” (Robertson, 2009) These advertisements often have an ‘orgasmic pleasure’ associated with it, having ‘your whole body [relax] in utter satisfaction.” (Robertson, 2009) Advertisements suggest that women should project their sexual desires onto the consumption of chocolate. (Robertson, 2009) Robertson states, “Chocolate offers a safe (socially acceptable) and natural release of implicitly sexualized desires.” (Robertson, 2009) This type of advertising, however, is only aimed at women, and we are so accustomed to the focus on women that it is difficult to even imagine many of these commercials as being done with men.
To push back against this gendered commercial, we made an advertisement that compiled photos of three different couples that do not need each other since they both have chocolate.
Because chocolate advertisements also often focus on white, heterosexual couples, we decided to include couples of different races, and sexual preferences (Robertson, 2009). The couples are depicted saying that their relationship will not work out because they have chocolate, and thus do not need each other. These couples are shown in bed, alluding to the fact that specifically, chocolate satisfies sexual desires. Because these images show men also using chocolate to fulfill their sexual desires, this advertisement pushes back against the stereotype that women are the only ones who find chocolate sexually satisfying. Furthermore, it pushes back against broader stereotypes by showing that people of all races and sexual preferences can enjoy chocolate, and should have advertisements focused towards them as well. This advertisement states that you will not need your significant other anymore if you eat chocolate, while making gender, race, and sexual preference irrelevant.
Chocolate advertising is often focused on sexualizing women’s consumption of it; I would argue that this type of advertising is unfair to women, and perpetuates damaging stereotypes. Instead of advertising chocolate as it is advertised in the 1848 commercial, advertisements should focus more on equal representations in not only gender, but also sexual preferences and race.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.
Accessed on April 8, 2015: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1259263.files/March%2029%20and%20April%201/Robertson%20Pt%201.pdf
Stevens, Lorna, Pauline Maclaran, and Stephen Brown. “” Red Time Is Me Time” Advertising, Ambivalence, and Women’s Magazines.” Journal of Advertising 32.1 (2003): 35-45.
Accessed on April 8, 2015:
Links to images used to create the advertisement:
2 – http://www.bet.com/b-real/relationships/photos/2015/01/what-your-sleeping-positions-reveal-about-your-relationship/_jcr_content/leftcol/flipbook/flipbookimage_1.flipfeature.dimg/041114-b-real-domestic-abuse-intimacy-couple-in-bed-sex-life.jpg