Growing up around advertisements, one rarely understands the true power of them until they are much older. The themes in advertisements change with time, often mirroring and using the themes ubiquitous in society at that time. Looking at advertisements now, specifically the ones created by the five “Big Chocolate” corporations depicted above, there is a sense that advertisements are becoming increasingly exploitative. This exploitation has come in the form of targeted child ads before they reach an age where they are able to distinguish between an ad and a program. These are problematic not only because they are indoctrinating indiscriminately, but because of the hypersexualized, masochistic, sexist, and at times even blatantly racist imagery that they validate. Possibly the most frustrating aspect of this phenomenon is that it is avoidable and, from the perspective of the corporations, essentially unnecessary. . In this post we have taken a problematic ad from our point of view and ameliorated some of these problematic implications without, I would argue, reducing the effectiveness of the ad. Overall, corporations are now often stuck in the paradigm of these ads when often these problematic themes depicted retract from their overall message and disillusion their audience.
Pictured directly above is the original advertisement for Cadbury fruit and nut bar released in October 2003. It depicts a young woman’s upper body with no clothes on, only using her arm to cover up her breast. The ad then reads, “Good Things Shouldn’t Come in Pieces.” The most powerful message that sticks out to the audience is most likely the woman depicted on the left. This ad attempts to appeal to the male population by equating the “whole” nature of the bar’s fruit and nuts with the representation of a hypersexualized female. From a female perspective, however, it is very problematic in the clear objectification of not just the female in general, but the female body. It implies that the female body can be a “piece” or an object of desire to be bought rather than a living being. It implies that men not only can buy these bars and the female body, but through language like “Shouldn’t,” it implies that they have a right to own these things. Furthermore, if we examine the audience of these ads, it is most likely targeted at teens and young adults, but inevitably children are exposed to it as well. Studies have shown that through these ads that objectify the female body, some children are indoctrinated with this perfect, often unattainable ideal of the perfect female body, leading to issues of body dysmorphic issues down the road. For males growing up, this possibly creates a sort of superiority complex of being able to own women. Is this really what we want children to be seeing? Feeling? Believing? As aforementioned, the frustration with these ads is that there really is no tangible upside to them. Marketing is not a science and I would argue that a far less sexualized and objectifying version of this ad may actually be more effective as a marketing tool.
Below I have added the revised ad that my group came up with that we see as combating some of these problematic themes in the original ad. The initial change that we made was to add clothing to the woman depicted on the left side of the ad. This removes the objectification of the female and the female body, but still leaves something to be desired by the audience with the inclusion of red lips that still represent a more subtle sexuality. The phrase is also changed to, “Good Things Come in Small Packages,” removing the wordplay that further works to objectify the female. While some people may argue that this detracts from the effectiveness and allure of this ad, it actually widens the audience base that it appeals to. In our society today, one defined by progressive feminist and humanitarian movements headed by educated people, by removing the objectification you also remove the main objection that any feminist or supporter of feminism would have with the advertising, making them more likely to purchase the product. Additionally, there is no issue of child exploitation with ads targeted at young boys and girls in that the perpetuation of the female body that can be owned does not exist anymore. This is also more effective in that the language more accurately describes the product itself. There is some ambiguity in the original ad’s language that confuses the audience when it talks about the “pieces” that is now removed. With some simple revisions in the ad, we remedied not only the problematic themes that are so prevalent in the chocolate, but also possibly made the ad in itself more effective.
Martin, Carla D. “Issues in Advertisements.” Chocolate Culture and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 1 Apr 2015. Class Lecture.
Robertson, Emma. “Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History”. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. Print.