In 2012 JELL-O responded to the Mayan Calendar scare with an attempt at viral marketing.
Playing upon the craze of a world ending 12/21/2012, Kraft Foods decided to cash in by poking fun at the Mayan religion. In this admittedly semi-genius advertisement, JELL-O asks if chocolate will save us from the Mayan foretold apocalypse. They trek far and wide to the top of an obscure Mayan ruins to offer chocolate JELL-O to the gods in hopes that the world will see 12/22/2012. Will chocolate JELL-O save the world?
This ad does several things cleverly. It plays upon people’s curiosity of an already publicized Mayan event. This leaves people associating JELL-O with the apocalypse. Which brings me to the second part of the ad’s clever anchoring.
It specifically states that if the world is not destroyed and Earthlings live to see 12/22/2012, it was the chocolate pudding sacrifice that appeased the gods.
A rundown of the commercial’s racist elements reveal many associations with the historical exploitation of exotic culture to sell chocolate.
A cartooned map of the Yucatan. (an exotic locale)
A cliched and sarcastic representation of an ancient culture. The narrator even goes so far as to call their religious practices lame. “No wonder the gods decided to end the world.”
An expedition “deep into the jungle” led by a white man, and his native looking crew. They reach a fictitious ruin and offer chocolate JELL-O pudding to the gods. Will it appease?
In Chocolate, Women and Empire, Robertson shares a history of tactics big business advertisements use by implementing race to sell chocolate. With this colonized/colonizer paradigm (Robertson, 36) this ad not only blatantly and unapologetically undermines the Mayan religion, it uses these various forms of racism to sell a product.
By leaving viewers hanging, it would be obvious that should the world still be in tact on 12/22/2012, it was Kraft who saved the world. The video ends with a tag “JELL-O, FUN THINGS UP.”
In response to Kraft’s commercial offering chocolate pudding to the Mayan gods, I’ve created an equally sarcastic ad by a fictitious company called Creamy Criollo.
The idea behind this advertisement is to show what a would be Mayan god’s reaction is to a modern day version of what a big chocolate company considers “chocolate”.
A quick look at the JELL-O chocolate pudding ingredient list reveals the following:
Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Disodium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Artificial Color, BHA (Preservative)
With cocoa ranking third on the list (even then it is diluted with other ingredients) it’s no wonder the Mayan gods decided to destroy the world in 2012.
I did not use race, gender, or class in my advertisement, but rather a shocking portrayal of what this world has come to with its processed ideas of food throughout the last two centuries. What this portrayal hopefully shows, is that use of quality ingredients is the only ancient stereotype that should be acceptable in marketing.