Gender and role specific themes have long been used in advertising. Chocolate became available to the working class in the 1800s and from that point on, advertisements told mothers and housewives that cocoa is a healthy, respectable, family product (Robertson 2010:20-21). Advertisements targeting women outside this traditional stereotype developed as women became increasingly liberated from domestic roles. A close reading of a current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in child nurturing roles followed by a close reading of a response ad that disconnects women from traditional stereotypes and rebrands Nesquik as a product enjoyed by college-professional women shows both ads to use advertising techniques effectively and to be part of larger socio-historical trends.
The current Nestlé’s ad shows a woman preparing Nesquik for herself and two children. Shown here:
Visual aspects of this ad place the product front and center with its lid off. A milk carton is next to the product and the woman stirring a glass indicates ease of preparation. The people are dressed in casual, modern-day clothing, the kitchen is clean, and a bowl of fruit and kitchen supplies are neatly organized in the background indicating a caring, hygienic environment.
This well-kept kitchen environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos used as advertising techniques. Ethos or moral trustworthiness is used by presenting a mother who cares enough to keep her kitchen clean and who trusts Nesquik enough to give it to her children. Leaving the lid off the container revealing its content also encourages trust. The image indicates that ordinary families with good values use this product. Logos or logic is used by displaying a carton of milk indicating that Nesquik mixed with milk is nutritious. This is in keeping with the trend of advertising cocoa as good for growing children’s bone and muscle (Robertson 2010:21). This type of ad appeals to the stereotype of women as guardians of family health and welfare and targets women who see themselves as buying only safe and healthy products for their children (Robertson 2010:53-54). Pathos or emotion is used to persuade as well. Happiness is felt in the characters’ physical closeness, eagerness, and the little girl’s grin. Overall, the story being told is that morally-responsible, logical mothers buy Nestlé’s Nesquik and share close, happy, and healthy moments with their children.
There is a long history of ads using the nurturing mother narrative, reflecting socio-historical trend. For instance, Rowntree ran ads in the 1930s called the Special Mother Campaign (Robertson 2010:21). Exampled here:
These ads highlighted chocolate as a nutritious food that mothers could feel good about giving to their children and that would supply energy to get work done throughout the day (Robertson 2010:21). The current Nestlé’s Nesquik ad is part of this longstanding socio-historical trend.
My team created a response ad to the current Nestlé’s ad by disconnecting Nesquik from motherhood and rebranding it as a product enjoyed by college-professional women. Shown here:
The image is of two modern-day, professionally dressed women seated in an office-study area looking over papers. Visual aspects draw attention to Nesquik by placing it in center field, balancing its level of view with a coffee cup, and offering an inadvertent finger point toward it. The easy carry bottle indicates convenience. One newspaper on the table indicates a college environment and another reminds that women’s roles have changed. The industrial fire alarm indicates an office setting rather than a home.
This professional environment contributes to ethos, logos, and pathos advertising techniques used in this advertisement. The theme of women driven toward professional goals suggests responsibility, ethics, or ethos. Their intellectual focus lends trust that these women have developed a successful work routine that includes Nesquik. Using logos, Nesquik is equated with energy by placing it at an equal visual level with coffee. Consuming energy drinks to help stay alert has long been accepted as safe and logical. Pathos is also used to persuade. The vision of women working together toward a common intellectual goal creates a happy sense of professional sisterhood. Overall, the advertisement tells the story that women’s roles have changed as have the roles of products and that collaborative, intellectual experiences are augmented by drinking energy drinks such as Nesquik.
This ad targets women outside traditional roles as part of a more recent socio-historical trend. For instance, chocolate was advertised in the 1930s as boosting productivity in working roles for women such as typing (Robertson 2010:24). Ads marketing chocolate as an energy source gained momentum in the 1940s when war efforts increased the number of women working outside the home (Robertson 2010:54). Apart from the food-energy theme, the response ad emphasizes intellectual pursuit consistent with the women’s independence trend. Starting in the 1950s, ads reflected women’s social, political, and sexual liberation (Robertson 2010:54). There is an element of professional style, confidence, and intelligence offered by the women in the response ad that is similar in message to that of the new Divine Chocolate ads depicting stylish, intelligent, African female business owners disconnected from stereotyped nurturing roles (Leissle 2002:121). Exampled here:
Although the Divine ad is different from the response ad in some ways, such as culture, setting, and dress, both ads deliver the message that successful career-oriented women enjoy chocolate and both are part of the more recent socio-historical trend of women operating outside traditional stereotypes.
Both the current Nestlé’s ad targeting women in nurturing roles and the response ad targeting women in college-professional roles use persuasive techniques effectively to reach consumers and reflect ongoing trends. Running ads such as these concurrently may strengthen Nesquik’s appeal even more for women who are both mothers and career professionals. For instance, mothers who make Nesquik at home with their children may also be persuaded to take it to work in easy to use containers. Overall, ads such as these that capture the interest of certain groups and reflect socio-historical trends successfully sell chocolate.
Divine Chocolate. (2013). Two dimensional image. Impressivemagazinee.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=divine+chocolate+with+social+flavour&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=BoglVbXpN8X7sAXVooGgDw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#imgrc=IexN32w1_W78aM%253A%3B6H4NGaE06p6vzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2013%252F07%252Fdivine-ad.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimpressivemagazine.com%252F2013%252F07%252F24%252Fdivine-chocolate-with-social-flavour%252F%3B600%3B775
Gaffney, Leah and Rachael Cornelius. “Chocolate Advertisement.” 2015. JPEG file.
Leissle, Kristy. (2012). Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24 (2), pp. 121-139.
Nesquik commercial with Bret Loehr. (2010). Two dimensional image from video. Youtube.com. Web. 5, April 2015. https://www.google.com/search?q=nestle+nesquik+advertisement&biw=1288&bih=768&site=webhp&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=DX4lVcDmBIeXsAXR1oGoBQ&ved=0CCoQsAQ&dpr=1#imgrc=IqVG6Vi0s_COCM%253A%3Bz01l0OoAMr5zIM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.ytimg.com%252Fvi%252FWEHdT2Ycto0%252Fhqdefault.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DWEHdT2Ycto0%3B480%3B360
Robertson, Emma. (2010). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. New York: Manchester University Press. pp 1-131.
Rowntree’s-Cocoa. (1930s). Two dimensional image. Advertisementsindia.com. Web. 5, April 2015. http://www.advertisementsindia.com/2011/05/rowntrees-cocoa/