Women, Sexuality, and Body Image in Chocolate Advertising

It is difficult to tell whether advertising evolves in response to changing consumer preferences or if the advertisements themselves shape new preferences.  Yet, it is undeniable that advertisements for many products, chocolate being a prime example, have become more nuanced in how they entice consumers and reflect the norms that pervade our society.   The days of Rowntree’s ‘Special Mothers Campaign’ to blatantly target insecure mothers are past (Robertson, 21) but there is no shortage of television commercials that show distressed children being pacified by “loving” mothers with chocolate.  For this post, I will analyze a Godiva advertisement and compare it to one generated by my group in order to analyze the role of gender, body image and sex appeal in advertising.  I argue that our advertisement which strips away the refinement in the Godiva still and also uses a scruffy male rather than a female model reveals inherent associations we make between chocolate, gender, sexuality, perception of beauty, and body.

Blog 3 Godiva ladyThe Godiva advertisement use both bold and subtle persuasion techniques to appeal to women in the advertisement pictured.  The most striking component of the advertisement is the woman pictured: she embodies the modern perception of beauty with sparkling blue eyes, shapely features, slim face, and full lips.  The woman herself is enough to catch the
attention of any casual passerby, both male and female.  The slogan is also catchy: “Every Woman is One Part Godiva,” and it indicates that the advertisement is intended to appeal to women by associating body with Godiva chocolate.  In an age when body insecurity is pervasive among many young women, this slogan encapsulates the desires of much of the ad’s audience.  Yet, there is much more subtlety that speaks to larger advertising trends in the chocolate industry.  For example, the color and lighting of the advertisement is dark and rich, giving the still a sensual feel that reflects Godiva’s desire to connect their chocolate to female sexuality.  This hyper-sexuality is evident in the pose the model pictured displays: her eyes seem slightly hooded; her fingers are curled leisurely; and her mouth is ajar enough to take a nibble of the chocolate but not wide enough to convey any effort.  This advertisement clearly associates the “ideal” woman with a shallow perception of beauty and sexual response in commonplace acts.

Slide1Our advertisement was designed to contrast the one created by Godiva in multiple ways, primarily through the type of model and the slogan.  The model pictured is an average-looking male with unkempt facial hair and a plain blue shirt.  Yet, the fact that he is male is not the only difference, as evidence by the Dove ad pictured below; it is the blatant sexualization of chocolate advertisements that is clearly missing from our ad.  The slogan is identical to the actual Godiva slogan but replaces “Woman” with “Man.”  Through these two perversions, our advertisement is radically different from the original.  The overt sexual component is almost entirely diminished, and it is almost comical to insinuate that men associate body image and chocolate.  Even the subtleties revealed in the Godiva image are different: the background color is a bright blue, indicating a playful, rather than sultry, mood, and the man is gripping a massive chocolate bar like a sandwich rather than with the sensual delicacy of the woman in the other advertisement.

The juxtaposition of these two advertisements exposes trends in advertising and consumer preferences that pervade modern society.  The Godiva advertisement targets women, uses overt sexuality, and associates the product with body image.  Just as Divine Chocolate presents farmers as “cosmopolitan consumers of luxury goods” (Leissle, 121), the Godiva advertisement impresses upon its audience a sense of desire that is in direct contradiction to reality.  The advertisement that we created represents the antithesis and reveals the biases of consumers.  Our ad with its scruffy model, bright background, and almost goofy targeting of men bucks the socio-historical trend of chocolate advertising that hyper-sexualizes and targets women.

 

References

http://files.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_950/9500755/file/dove-chocolate-dove-chocolate-small-50065.jpg

http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/happy-young-man-eating-chocolate-11629814.jpg

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Robertson, E. (2009): Chocolate, women, and empire.  Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

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