Cupcakes are boring unless spruced up with sweet decorative temptations. The video below, which I have named “Singing Cupcakes” is an ad for Duncan Hines Amazing Glaze, chocolate flavor. This ad was not taken lightly, potential consumers were shocked and even offended, and many quickly rendered this ad racist and immature in content and design, some even called it Black-facing. According to an article on Mother Jones titled “Are these cupcakes racist”?, a female blogger responds to the commercial, “Do I really need to break down why Black-face cupcakes are racist? I sincerely hope this commercial is fake, because if not, it represents a direct attack on Black people.” (Mother Jones)
The ad is attempting to sell the consumer by showing that the chocolate glaze turns a boring bland cupcake into a lively sweet cupcake. So, maybe the commercial did represent an attack on black people, if so, what should Duncan Hines have done differently? If they had cohesively thought more about the product and consumer, would they still have released the ad? According to Robertson, Diane Barthel highlights a more active reciprocal relationship between product and consumer which is facilitated by advertising, “We are not passive recipients of goods, using them instead as a “cultural mode” to express our own sense of identity. Yet goods may also use us to acquire social meaning.” (Robertson, p.19) This claim suggests that viewers and consumers use goods to express their sense of identity and use goods to acquire social meaning. I would agree with this and say that viewers want to relate to ads, thus persuading them to buy the product. In regards to race relations and equality, “Singing Cupcakes” would have remained advertised and Duncan Hines would have sold more Amazing Glazes if there was another ad illustrating their vanilla flavor, which was on the market.
Below you will see the Duncan Hines Amazing Glazes product in vanilla and chocolate. Duncan Hines thought strategically enough to incorporate another flavor into their product, however, there is/was no ad with “Singing Cupcakes” on the market promoting the vanilla favored glaze, only the chocolate glaze.
Honestly, my reaction to the “Singing Cupcake” video was “What’s the big deal, bland cupcakes instantly happier with warm chocolate glaze poured on their tops”. Yes, there are aspects to this video that make one question the producers motives; the glaze turns into a face with wide eyes and big pink lips, often construed as stereotypical features of a black man or woman’s face. The ad starts with the product removed from the microwave, the baker (apparently a white young woman) brings the glaze over to the white bland cupcakes, the glaze touches the cupcakes and they immediately start singing; the baker receives a phone call and leaves one cupcake sans glaze; she returns to pour glaze on the last cupcake and it sings thus completing the melody with fellow cupcakes. The add embodies many complexes: the tall white female actress with a nice figure implying a gender relation, the cupcakes singing what many view as hip-hop offers a racial component, and there is so evidently a lack of another flavor represented in the ad.
Now, I have recreated an ad for Duncan Hines Amazing Glazes, chocolate flavor, while also including the vanilla flavor. The message content remain the same; introducing these amazing glazes that will turn your boring bland baked cupcakes into exciting sweet temptations. This new advertisement offers potential consumers the ability to choose between chocolate or vanilla and shows the customers the glazes can produce happy cupcakes without the stereotypical lip and eye features of black men or women. The core aspects to the original ad are still here, but there is no cause for offense in this re-created version. It is simple and to the point. In closing I want to include a claim that Robertson made, “Adverts offer us ways of using commodities such as chocolate to say things about ourselves, our families, our social world. They also position us in relation to the product as gendered, classed and raced beings”. (Robertson p.19) This is very true. Producers have the ability to create ads that their consumers can relate to and there is no better way to do that than with representing equality.
On a final note, the below ads, all for Cremica Twin Cream Biscuits, did a solid job at balancing their product by producing several flavors. The advertisements are odd and were perceived this way but they are eye catching and I guarantee the company thought in advance about how their advertisements would come across to the public eye in regards to racism and equality, and producing a variety of flavors only benefited this campaign.
“Are These Cupcakes Racist?” Mother Jones. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2010/12/duncan-hines-amazing-glazes-cupcakes>.
“Duncan Hines Hip Hop Cupcakes Being Considered Racist!” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 5 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0BeSz5LRCY>.
Robertson, Emma. “Chocolate, Women and Empire.” A Social and Cultural History: 19. Print. (two cites)
The Grocery Girls. Digital image. http://www.thegrocerygirls.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/O/4/O4WXW.jpg.jpg. Web.
Walmart. Digital image. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Duncan-Hines-Amazing-Glazes-Vanilla-Flavored-Dessert-Topping-10-oz/17179670. Web.
Dreamstime. Digital image. http://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/cupcake-smiling.html. Web. (two cites)
Wavebreakmedia. Digital image. http://www.wavebreakmedia.com/stock-photo-video-footage-p-45597/Two-cute-friends-eating-an-icecream-together-sitting-in-the-kitchen.html. Web.
Adsoftheworld. Digital image. Http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/cremica_twin_cream_biscuits_chocolate_vanilla. Web.
Adsoftheworld. Digital image. Http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/cremica_twin_cream_biscuits_chocolate_orange. Web.
Adsoftheworld. Digital image. Http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/cremica_twin_cream_biscuits_strawberry_milk. Web.