Many of the marketing campaigns of chocolate brands contain many themes and implications which push stereotypes that harm specific groups of people. In researching chocolate advertisements, we came across a Dove print ad which was particularly troubling.
The print ad portrays a black man’s six pack, as though it is a bar of chocolate, in seductive lighting with the caption “Six Pack that melts a girl’s heart. Dove Chocolate” at the very bottom in small print. The idea behind the ad is that a woman can be as seduced by chocolate as she is by a black man with a good physique and a six pack.
This very simplistic print ad highlights some of the most problematic themes that occur in chocolate advertising: the objectification of people representing chocolate and the idea that only women can be seduced using chocolate.
The objectification of the black man’s abs would not be as problematic if it wasn’t for the history of chocolate. The use of the black man’s abs objectifies him and compares his worth as equivalent to a bar of chocolate. Actually, the image of of the abs combined with the words at the bottom of the ad implies that the chocolate is better than the black man’s abs because it can also “melt a girl’s heart” implying that the other cannot.
We had a problem with “Six Pack that melts a girl’s heart. Dove Chocolate” because it makes it seem as though only women can be seduced by chocolate. While chocolate has been sexualised in ads, we did not have a problem with the sexualization per say, but rather that it was pointed towards one gender. The connection between chocolate and its sexualization isn’t that surprising given that it has been considered for a large part of its history as an aphrodisiac.
Our commercial address these incorrect representations of gender and race by removing the human six pack and replacing it with a chocolate representation of a six pack and changing the caption to be inclusive of all genders.
We decided that implying that chocolate can provide pleasure was not harmful if it applied to all genders. This was the reason why we removed the gendered caption: “Six Pack that melts a girl’s heart. Dove Chocolate” and replaced it with “the six pack that melts your heart. Dove Chocolate” in our advertisement. We also decided to replace the man’s six pack with a chunk of Dove chocolate with six pieces. This way the ad is no longer objectifying a man, and we removed the element of gender from the image as well.
Our advertisement’s theme that eating chocolate can be as pleasurable of an activity as being seduced by people who have six packs removes the problematic gender or race themes of the original Dove campaign.