Historically, chocolate was associated with masculinity. It was found in the coffee houses and places of repose that men generally frequented.[i] It was a good that was most deeply associated with the highest class: white males. That, however, saw a sharp change over time. Chocolate production involves women on both ends of the manufacturing and advertising spectrum. Not only are women highly involved in the actual farming of cocoa (and yet often caught up in the “politicizing force” of production politics), but also chocolate is often exclusively marketed using women.[ii] Chocolate, in advertising, becomes something that women lust for and go crazy over. This generally leads to sexualization or fetishization of women with regards to chocolate. At the same time there is a sense of mysticism surrounding women on the production end, women in Africa, who are depicted as cultural enigmas or equally fetishized. People have attempted to clear up the stigma encompassing women and chocolate, especially female cocoa farmers. Companies like Divine Chocolate, for example have made valiant efforts. They released an ad campaign “reframing of the exchanges of goods and capital between Africa and Europe” and depicting female farmers as cosmopolitan and glamorous.[iii] However, is this even a healthy way to represent women in chocolate advertising?
The ad that we chose to look at and analyze, and which we found to be particularly problematic was a Cadbury advertisement for the Fruit & Nut chocolate bar. The ad was released in Portugal in 2003.[iv] It depicts the body of a naked woman, covering her chest with her bare arms and features the tag line “Good Things Shouldn’t Come in Pieces.” Right off the bat, we’re aware that what the tag line is referring to: the lack of graphic imagery, the fact that the female model’s arms cover her chest. She is teasing the audience with glimpses of only “pieces” of her nude form. This advertisement sexualizes the female body in the hopes of selling chocolate. Sex sells, and here, Cadbury is insinuating that we as an audience are entitled to seeing more of her body simply because we want to. It seems to be a rather unhealthy message to send to women, and really anyone who sees this advertisement about the right a woman has to her own body.
What we did to fix it was very simple, and in my opinion very effective at combatting that negative point. We just clothed the model and altered the tag line very slightly. The same point is communicated to the audience regarding the novelty of the candy bar: it can be broken up into small pieces and eaten, yet is packaged as an entire candy bar. Our slogan tries to convey that same sentiment, without objectifying the female model next to the chocolate. In fact, in our ad she really doesn’t serve any purpose, so we could have even just cut her out of the picture, but thought it more effective to clothe her in retaliation.
The objectification of female bodies, and the sexualization of chocolate cravings with regards to women is something so common that College Humor made a parody in the below fake advertisement. This fake ad is worth a watch if just because it raises some valid points about the typical chocolate commercial. We should all do our part to steer clear of this sort of objectification, and fight against it if we can.
“Fruit & Nut: “PIECES” Print Ad by Interact Comunicacao Interactiva.” Coloribus. Coloribus, http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/fruit-nut-pieces-5466555/resizes/600/
Leissle, Kristy “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2).
Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.
[i] Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. 69
[ii] Robertson, 123
[iii] Leissle, Kristy “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121
[iv] “Fruit & Nut: “PIECES” Print Ad by Interact Comunicacao Interactiva.” Coloribus. Coloribus, http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/fruit-nut-pieces-5466555/resizes/600/