When companies make advertisements to promote the items they are attempting to sale, it is important for companies to consider their target audience. A main problem with such publications over the years is that women have been overly sexualized in these advertisements to the point where is has become normal to see women covered in chocolate in a sexualized pose. In fact, a quick Google search of the phrase “chocolate commercial” shows the following three images in the top results page.
Advertisements follow gender differences that are present in the everyday lives of people. In a study of shoppers who were asked if they resent the stereotyping and inequalities in marketing, the overall consensus was yes (Fusion, 2016). However, companies continue to use these marketing strategies to appeal to their shoppers because their products sell. For example, chocolate companies make billions in revenue per year (Martin, 2016). If their marketing strategies are working, there is little reason for chocolate companies to push for a change in their advertisements, regardless of how sexist they may be.
Think back to the last ten times when you watched a chocolate commercial or saw a chocolate advertisement photo. Were they mostly sexualized women who were crazed beyond belief at the sight of chocolate? Because the answer is probably yes, it is evident that chocolate companies use sexist marketing to sell their products. As they continue to make sexualized ads of women, chocolate companies perpetuate the bias that women are crazed and lack self control. They promote inequality for women and portray women as chocolate objects only necessary for sexual need. Unfortunately, when companies adopt sexist marketing, they continue to promote cyclical inequality: the advertisements are sexist when they adapt to the stereotypes present which then reinforces stereotypes.
For the purposes of this post, a present chocolate advertisement will be analyzed and critiqued to explain the problems associated with the advertisement. Then a new advertisement will be created to push back on the problems and attempt to reach a wider audience.
In 2001, Cadbury launched this Snowflake chocolate bar advertisement. The model April Palasthy was the subject of the ad and the ad even made it onto several front pages of different magazines (Cozens, 2001). In this advertisement, Palasthy is pictured shirtless with a chocolate bar in her mouth. She is definitely hyper-sexualized and portrayed to fit the common stereotype of women in chocolate advertisements. Cadbury’s advertisement has at least three problems which perpetuate the objectification and hyper-sexualization of women.
First, Turner is pictured shirtless which sexualizes her from the moment the advertisement is noticed. She appears shirtless but the advertisement is mysterious because it is unknown whether or not she is fully naked. The focus of the advertisement should be the chocolate but instead, the woman’s body is strongly considered. Her nakedness is a marketing strategy that promotes Turner as an object, on an equal level as chocolate. Second, the chocolate is strategically sexually placed in her mouth. This is a common action that chocolate companies do, as seen in these ads.
The mouth is used for eating the chocolate and the lips are used for kissing, which are innocent acts. However, her sexual facial expression proposes that the way in which the chocolate is placed in her mouth is of sexual desire.
Third, the phrase “how much would you like this girl’s job?” is the worst problem of them all because it contributes to the other two. If the phrase is considered at first read, it is interpreted as desiring the girl’s job to eat chocolate and get paid for it. However, the phrase has a very explicit double meaning – the consumer would like to receive a job from the girl. People know a job to be a sexual act performed by women. Adding this phrase to a possibly naked woman with an object in her mouth is very problematic because the woman is depicted as a sexual object ready to bring pleasure. This advertisement targets men who have this sexual desire for what Palasthy sells and women who want to feel sexy like her. Cadbury’s marketing promotes a fetish status in which men and women presume that they will receive these sexualized advances if they buy the chocolate (Fahim, 2010).
An advertisement that counteracts the cyclical inequality and sexism in chocolate marketing is needed. It is critical to portray women as more than sexual objects, which the original advertisement strongly fails to do.
The new advertisement fixes the three problems present in the original advertisement because it eliminates the sexism of the model. There is no longer a possibly naked woman present to perform sexual favors. Instead, the women in this ad are dressed in business clothes and are portrayed as successful and important people along with their male counterparts. This creates equality between the two genders by promoting success and insinuating that the pleasure comes from the work and the chocolate itself, not the women.
Each person in this ad is different by either gender or race, but all have the equal opportunity to enjoy the chocolate bar. The new ad focuses on targeting men and women who want to be successful. It promotes feelings of accomplishment because the Flake bar could be enjoyed as a reward for hard work. By depicting women as important people, the marketing strategy no longer involves objectification or hyper-sexualization. Marketing such as this could decrease the bias that women are crazed for chocolate and objects for male pleasure.
A potential problem of this advertisement is that it could alienate people who do not like people in suits, corporate people, etc. However, this ad is not meant to be a one-step solution to marketing problems, but it would be a start in the right direction. Primarily, if chocolate companies depicted women this way, women would be less sexualized which could influence a positive portrayal of women, in society and other markets.
Cozen, C. (2001). Cadbury’s relaunches snowflake. The Guardian.
Fusion, J. (2016). Merketing to men vs women. Chron.
Farhim, J. (2010). Beyond cravings: Gender and class desires in chocolate marketing. Occidental College; OxyScholar.
Martin, C. (2016). Introduction to chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. Harvard College, Lecture.