Imagine flipping through a magazine and you come across this ad.
What sticks out to you? Is it the weird-alien- head? Or maybe it’s the weird mini people living in the alien head? Maybe you are asking yourself, “Why is she wearing pigtails?” (Because let’s be honest, who wears pigtails WITH pink ribbons nowadays?)
Yet, if we take time to truly look at the ad, we can begin to see there are much deeper meanings and subtle insinuations being presented. More importantly, there emerges a narrative that is deeply embedded in the history of chocolate. Historically, chocolate has been tied to some very problematic advertisements surrounding race and women.Cadbury Bournville Chocolate unfortunately falls into this category with their “Deliciously Dark” campaign – consider is big WOMP, WOMP. Although the campaign aims to promote feelings of releasing the darker side of consumers (insert evil villain laugh here), there are several aspects of this advertisement that are troublesome and simply objectify woman. Aside from her Britney Spears, “hit me baby one more time” ensemble, the combination of big doe like eyes, the child-like pig tails, and glasses makes this working woman immediately reduced to a young innocent girl. This deliberate choice of portraying her as a young and naïve girl writes her into a submissive role. Yet, she is not too submissive to be seductive, which is why there is a glossed and colored lip on the girl. Notice how the chocolate is placed next to her full, shiny lips further sexualizing the subject of the add. Interestingly enough, this scenario is placed in what looks like a cubicle, which leads me to believe that she is some kind of assistant. There becomes a dynamic for which she is stereotyped as a young, dumb, blonde – and perpetuates this idea that the only thing a woman can do in an office setting is administrative duties. What’s more bothersome is the portrayal of her “dark” fantasy version of her in the clear head which, to me, has some underlying message of girls are “airheads” and in positions of inferiority. But once she becomes the boss in her head, she is now wearing more revealing clothing, and again is sexualized even further. Sadly, there are more of these “dark” ads.
Source: my drawing
In response to the “delicious” but highly sexist ads, I drew a “Passions” ad. Here the tagline reads, “WE CAN DO IT…AND HAVE IT ALL!” The image was inspired by the “Rosie the Riveter”, or J. Miller’s famous “We Can Do It!” poster from the WWII era, which promoted strong female roles.
As you can see in the drawing, the woman is standing in her high rise, corner office indicating she is highly successful in her firm. I strategically placed things throughout the office to portray a strong, successful, family oriented, and intelligent woman. For instance, you can see she has a Harvard degree on her wall; she has a family in a frame on her desk; her nametag on the desk reads “CEO” (subtle hints that she earned her position); and she also recycles! I attempted to make her in a more realistic body type instead of the continuous slender models who usually appear in ads. I also tried to portray a more ethnically diverse woman, which has curly wild hair and most likely a minority in most situations – promoting the idea of women in positions of power. Additionally, I created this strong woman to combat the earlier woman’s ad, because you can be smart, successful beautiful and hard working without having to compromise anything – especially your chocolate!
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women and empire: A social and cultural history. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. Print