Chocolate and Marketing: Celebrity Endorsements

Chocolate is a multibillion-dollar industry, which explains its prevalence in commercials and popular culture. It is difficult to watch television or go on the internet without seeing an advertisement for the good. One recent commercial, by Snickers, features Johnny Manziel, an American professional football player for the Cleveland Browns, as an aerobics instructor. This commercial focuses on Manziel, and his celebrity status, reflecting a trend in chocolate marketing towards celebrity endorsements that put the emphasis on the celebrity and not on the chocolate itself; our group ad, on the other hand, is simplistic by design, placing the spotlight and the focus on the chocolate product that we are selling.

In the Snickers commercial, Manziel is acting as an aerobics instructor, directing a group of ladies to perform certain exercises. Midway through his workout, he is interrupted by a Cleveland browns teammate, who is surprised to see Manziel doing all of this. He hands Manziel a snicker, telling him that Manziel is “Johnny Football” and not an athletic trainer. After taking a bite, Manziel instantly returns to a football player—as indicated by his change in outfit to a football uniform—and is also surprised at why he was at an aerobics exercise class. After they both leave, a close-up of the Snickers bar is featured, with the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

The emphasis of this commercial is not the Snickers chocolate bar itself. The Snicker bar itself makes only two appearances in the commercial—once when Manziel’s teammate hands it to him and at the end when there is a close-up of the snickers bar. The close-up scene at the end is when the viewer gets the best look at the snickers-bar itself; it only lasts for 3 seconds, which is 10% of the entire duration of the commercial. Instead, the commercial’s focus is on Manziel—as an aerobics instructor and back to an NFL player. This is likely because Mars Company, which owns the Snickers brand, wanted to tap into Manziel’s celebrity status and fame. The commercial was produced in the summer of 2014, when Manziel had just recently been drafted into the NFL; around this time, there was an incredible amount of media publicity and coverage of Manziel, who was a star college quarterback. He had the “cool” factor, so it makes sense that Snickers would want to be associated with Manziel in its commercial. Emphasizing the snickers bar would be difficult and ineffective as viewers’ attention would be mostly on Manziel because of his fame and celebrity status.

Such commercials have been popping up for a while now, and they seem to represent a marketing trend for companies: using celebrities’ cool factor. Companies in the business are trying to create a coolness factor to chocolate and distinguish their own chocolate from their competitors. One such strategy is through personalization of chocolate; for example, Mars company has been customizing m&m’s since early 2000s (kpmg.com). Another such method to make chocolate cool has been to market chocolate to men as a device to get women. For example, during the 1930s to 1950s, chocolate was marketed to upper-class men as a way to court upper-class women (Moss & Badenoch, pg. 111). Using celebrity endorsements, though, has been relatively underutilized until recently (kpmg.com), but it seems to be a model adopted by more and more companies as evident by a simple YouTube search. Celebrity ads add both a cool factor and uniqueness factor to a company’s chocolate product at the same time: For example, the Manizel ad uses Manziel’s fame to develop a “coolness” factor to Snickers and make Snickers’ bar different from the competition: This is because the premise of the commercial is that an attractive, gifted, famous athlete such as Manziel only eats the Snickers bar—but no other bars— and if the viewer wants to be great like Manziel, then he or she too should only eat a Snickers’ bar and not a chocolate bar from the competition.

chocolate ad

In contrast, our commercial/still image would focus on the good itself (see ad above). Our ad is simple, with a cacao bean, and the phrase, “It’s just chocolate.” There are no additional celebrities or “noise”. We want viewers’ focus and attention to be on the product that we are selling, and nothing else besides it. The simplistic design is a push-back against the extravagance and unnecessary elements from the Manziel ad, which take away the attention from the good—the chocolate—that we are providing. Our ad is also timeless: whereas the Manziel ad can only be played so long as long as Manziels’ popularity is high—as it was likely an attempt to make the Snickers bar seem cool through association with Manziel and capitalization on his fame—our ad recognizes chocolate as special and cool without other actors associated with it. We place chocolate on a pedestal; we do not need celebrities’ endorsement to make people buy it. Our ad propagates the platform and belief that chocolate is simply chocolate, and that it will sell on those inherent qualities and merits that come from it being chocolate.

An actual chocolate commercial that resembles our vision in animation is Mars’ “Biggest Ever Chocolate Bar” ad from the ‘80s.

In this commercial, the focus is clearly on the Mars’ bar. The narrator lists out the bars’ many qualities—the biggest in size, more milk, sugar, and chocolate. The chocolate bar is on the screen for the majority of the commercial, shown at a close-up, to make sure the viewer’s attention it solely on it. There are no celebrities or distracting aerobics workouts to take away the viewer’s attention from the bar.

Citations:

Mars Biggest Ever Chocolate Bar (Classic UK Ad 1980’s). ClassicUKads. Mars Company, 2010. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nTWp7CC0_0

TV Commercial – Snickers – Johnny Jam Boogie – Featuring Johnny Manziel – Satisfies. Sonic Wendy. Snickers, 2014. YouTube. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71DhBJgsAmY >

Moss, Sarah, and Alexander Badenoch. Chocolate:A Global History. Reaktion, 2009. Web. https://books.google.com/books?id=94Ke9b2a-FAC&pg=PT112&lpg=PT112&dq=trends+in+chocolate+advertising&source=bl&ots=0s2s8exvRz&sig=5BFITnOCUre3eG4iAXmM_FQlCnY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xiAoVaLoC6aIsQT_1IDoCg&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=trends%20in%20chocolate%20advertising&f=false

“A Taste of the Future.” Kpmg.com. Kpmg, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/taste-of-the-future.pdf&gt;.

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