In advertising for chocolate, women are portrayed as sexualized figures generally representing a class of high socioeconomic, heterosexual Caucasian individuals.
As Emma Robertson says in Chocolate, women and empire, “Women consumers were often depicted in Aero adverts of the late 1930s being urged to listen to their desires in an implicitly sexualized discourse: ‘Do you know that when you get an urge to eat chocolate, you shouldn’t resist – there’s a deep physical reason for it?’ These urges are ‘natural’ and should be obeyed: ‘When you resist the urge to eat chocolate you are ignoring one of Nature’s most serious warnings’” (Robertson, 35).
In a historical sense, women were seen as sexualized people and used to market goods. Even today this themes exists in advertising as I discovered a particular commercial that especially capitalizes on sensual images and noises of a woman to advertise chocolate.
This “Sexy Chocolate commercial” begins with a woman tearing open a chocolate wrapper and then sensually imagining the making process for this 1848 chocolate bar. I interpreted this advertisement as if the woman is masturbating, shown as the chocolate is made, and does not need a man to have an orgasm. It suggests that when she has chocolate, he sexual needs are met and sufficiently pleased. There is no literal talking in the video – just moans, sighs, and sounds of the chocolate being made.
Going above and being the sexual image typically captured of a woman selling a product, this video also arguably plays with the issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. By using a white woman wearing a gold ring that may suggest wealth, this product draws a line across race, gender and class. In response to this stratification amongst consumers, I worked with a classmate to create an advertisement in response to this video.
(View larger size here: chocolate pics-2)
We decided to create this advertisement to critique the historical portrayal of women, sexuality, and race in marketing for certain products, particularly chocolate. These three pictures contain the same dialogue between two individuals: “Honey, this isn’t going to work” “I know, we don’t need each other if we have chocolate.” This advertisement, literally containing couples turned away from each other in bed, is meant to illustrate that if these individuals have chocolate, then they can have orgasms on their own. Just as the video hinted at masturbation, the pictures suggest that when we just have chocolate and ourselves then nothing else is needed. The targeted audience of our creation is for both men and women of all races and sexuality preferences, as opposed to the typically slanted intent of advertisements. By coupling individuals of the varied race, gender and sexual preferences, we criticize the stereotypical white, heterosexual couple serving as society’s norm. Chocolate doesn’t have a sex, a gender, or sexual preference; anyone can have it and it can be your sexual partner regardless of who you are and whom you like.
In modern day advertisement of Divine Chocolate, Kristy Leissle comments on the role of females as they are portrayed in advertisements. “Through a complex rendering of Ghanaian women farmers as attractive, socially mobile beneficiaries of their own development efforts, the Divine adverts offer a positive space in British print media for viewers to question narratives that place Africa in an eternal developmental lag. They invite connections among people who grow, sell, and consume luxuries like chocolate, across a visual gulf that is often too vast to bridge“ (Leissle, 122).
The modern role of females, as Leissle adequately demonstrates has taken on a meaningful stance against the traditional and primitive notions in advertisement. The position that women hold as co-owners of Divine Chocolate suggest that “the gendered development of imagery reframes Africa’s roles in modernity, creating an alluring female figure that envisions and promotes Africa’s contributions to industrial production and its role in luxury consumption” (Leissle, 123).
Even with this powerful advance in the right direction to empowering women in Africa’s advertising, the historical sexualized women in chocolate advertisements endures.
This image is of yet another example demonstrating a woman sensualizing the process of eating chocolate, possible naked and enjoying her orgasmic experience.
Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24.2 (2012): 121-139.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.