One of the ‘Big Five,’ Mars Chocolate, has once again set about marketing their latest creation: DOVE Fruit and Nut Blends. This particular campaign is being advertised in the U.S. market, however, the fetishization of women in connection to selling chocolate is not limited to North America, Mars, nor the chocolate industry. Robertson (2009) develops a narrative where the consumption of chocolate became feminized early on in the West. Robertson describes women as the household adult having purchasing power and (after seeing a commercial geared toward this power), wanting to do right by her children and husband and thus finding a way to satisfy their chocolate needs. However, Robertson, describes a shift in advertising post WWII (1940s and 1950s), where the housewife becomes a magical figure and both she and the product end up becoming fetishized. Fast forward to the current DOVE Chocolate commercial being played out today: A light-skinned woman of uncertain ethnic descent appears in the first second of the 30 second video, but the viewer does not get familiar with her face because it will become evident that the commercial is not about her, rather her expressions and the way her body seemingly responds to this new fruit and nut dark chocolate blend. It is well established that advertising firms should know their audience and market, however, the sensuality seen in recent chocolate commercials is a bit perplexing. If it is really about the chocolate, then the chocolate should be able to sell itself or not rely too heavily on the woman being featured.
See stills taken from the video below:
See commercial at this link (current user plan does not allow embedding video at this time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WwZa8qDTmY
Video credits and information:
Length: 30 seconds
Released: March 2016, U.S.
BBND-NY Advertising Agency
Production Company: The Joinery
Directed by: Ozan Biron
In “Who’s winning China’s chocolate war?,” Mars has emerged as the victor, but by far, (34% of national consumption), their DOVE brand reigns supreme within the Chinese market. It is interesting to see Mars come out on top because Allen (2010), was emphatic about the Big Five finding their niche in the vast Chinese market. Specifically, Allen asserted that the chocolate company with the ability to make their brand stand out would win over the Chinese consumer. Allen pointed to the traditional gift-giving practice that chocolate could play-but this would mean focusing on the packaging. Where an American consumer might eat the whole chocolate bar in one sitting without paying much attention to the packaging, the Chinese consumer would be selective in choosing the chocolate bar or bag because it would be given as a gift.
Photo credit: Huffington Post
The U.S. market favors Mars DOVE brand as well. The Huffington Post looked at America’s favorite chocolates and DOVE performed quite well, going above other giants like Cadbury and Hershey’s.
But again, we have to question Mars motivation in featuring a woman in the throes of passion, writhing her way in and out of shot. The DOVE commercial does exhibit great visual effects to showcase the “stars” of the new chocolate blend being advertised, however, but even these are very sensual. The fruit has chocolate poured over it and then there are bursts as shot after shot capture the movement of fruit, nuts, and chocolate being melded as one.
The alternate way of advertising DOVE’s Fruit and Nut Blends is simply by focusing on those very things. The fruit does take on a few characteristics that could be interpreted to be gender-specific, but it is all in the eye of the beholder. The nuts dance about as the dark chocolate rains from above.
Relevantly, Robertson (2009) writes that chocolate lends itself to fantasy-sometimes this illusion is one of sensuality and excess- but why must it always be women who go crazy and lose their minds? Advertisements can be witty and enticing without being sexual. DOVE Chocolate already enjoys a good share of the market and the chocolate should be able to sell itself on its own merits; in this case, whether it be for the American or Chinese consumer. The dominant query for this particular DOVE advertisement was actually about the music, not the chocolate. To sum, if DOVE wants conversation and buzz to swirl around their latest creation, it should be focused on what is different about this chocolate versus their last.
Allen, L.L. (2010). Chocolate fortunes: The battle for the hearts, minds, and wallets of China’s consumers. New York: AMACOM.
Doland, A. (2014, December 8). Who’s winning China’s chocolate war? Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/print-edition/winning-china-s-chocolate-war/296091/
Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, women, and empire. New York: Manchester University Press.
Tepper, R. (2013, February 6). America’s most and least favorite chocolates. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/valentines-day-chocolate_n_2632330.html