Women in Chocolate Advertising: Submission and Dominance

Chocolate advertising often portrays women as having an emotional response to chocolate, sometime chocolate is a temptation, or an indulgence, and often women are portrayed as being having an overwhelming and out-of-control need to consume chocolate. Chocolate advertising often draws a parallel between how women feel when they are aroused or have romantic feels toward someone to the feelings they get when eating chocolate.

This ad for “Fling” aired in 2009 and was considered provocative even by today’s standards.

While she may be overcome with her desire for chocolate, and a desire to consume it in private the woman appears to be in control of the situation.  However, in this ad from the same year, the woman appears to be overcome and almost powerless over chocolate.

While there woman appears to be aroused, she does not appear to be fully in control of the situation and the ad is punctuated by alarming sounds, such as the sounds of cocoa beans being smashed by a rock, and images such as the branding of chocolate by a hot iron, that while erotic border on disturbing if one considers that the woman may not be a willing participant.  Is she willing, or being dominated by chocolate, and experience that she can not escape?

This idea of chocoalte controlling women is interesting and a frequent them in print advertising as well.

In this ad by Haagen Daas the female subject appears to be silenced by the chocolate ice-cream bar that she is consuming.  Perhaps even more alarming is the racial stereotype that can also be implied as the female subject of color, who appears to be silenced by a confection that is on a white stick.

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Haagen Daas also ran another version of this same ad, which can be interpreted completely differently.

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We see similar imagery in this Dove ice-cream print ad, yet the imagery still implies that the female subject is being controlled or silenced by the chocolate treat.

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We see similar themes in stock imagery as well.  In this image the female subject may or may not be enjoying drinking chocolate that is being poured on her at an alarming rate.

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This ad by Nestle appears to have been created for the China and portrays the female subject in what could be considered as submissive to an activity involving chocolate.

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The woman’s hair is covering her eyes, putting her in a submissive position and possibly indicating she is not a willing participant. She is not smiling and while arguably, she may be in the throes of passion, she may also be engaged in activity that is forced. It appears that it is her hand that is holding the chocolate rather delicately and it is pointed towards her open mouth, again it is unclear if she is a willing participant in eating the chocolate or if she is posing or acting under some else direction. The pouring and splashing of chocolate on the red background indicates that this may be an erotic endeavor and that by eating the chocolate the woman may be aroused or that there is some erotic activity in the background.

This ad is indicative of a larger trend seen in print advertising for chocolate in which women are engaged in eating chocolate and the activity is stylized in an erotic way.

I have restyled to ad to put the female subject in control of the situation and of chocolate.


In this portrayal the female subject is dominant, and in a position to choose.  The chocolate and other food items take a submissive role as part of a selection of items that are being considered for her enjoyment.  She is gazing down on her selection and her eyes are open.  She is thoughtfully contemplating her choice and is prepared to indulge in any of the three options. The option of a Nestle chocolate bar is portrayed as on equal footing to the other options and she can take it or leave it.

Works cited:

1848 Chocolate Ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzOchsY4RhQ

Fling Chocolate Ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlRGT474Kiw

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 9: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements’” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 1 April. 2015. Class Lecture.


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