The purpose of advertisements is essentially to sell either a product or some sort of service to a consumer. The food industry has made great use of this strategy and spends billions of dollars each year world wide on marketing. A multitude of studies have been conducted to find just what makes people tick and make impulsive decisions. One such tactic that many companies have implemented for years now is the use of sex appeal. Studies have shown that sexual appeals were more persuasive than non-sexual appeals when it came to marketing (Reichert et al., 2001). But what exactly constitutes a sexy ad? Another study has shown that there are essentially 4 characteristics that make up a “sexy ad”: (1) physical features of models, (2) behavior and or movement, (3) intimacy between models, and (4) contextual features (Reichert, 2000). While companies feel at least some sort of obligation to promote their product the best they can, the problem that has arisen as a result of this is that companies are portraying messages that are not in the best interests of society. For example, the use of seduction in order to lure the consumer into buying a product has consequently promoted the objectification human beings, and especially women.
As a response to the trend of companies to use sex appeal to sell products, we have created a response ad to demonstrate a way that the problems associated with sexual appeal ads can be eliminated. The original ad that we have chosen to respond
to is a still ad by Godiva Chocolatier that depicts an attractive woman, seductively staring into camera with a piece of chocolate lying just above her cleavage. The woman is lying on the bed in a submissive and vulnerable position pushing her hair back with one hand and seems to be dragging her other hand down her body. Her clothing looks very elegant. The ad seems to be set in modern day. Towards the bottom of the ad it says “You can see it in her eyes. The joie de Godiva.”
When analyzing any ad, we must first ask ourselves two questions: What is it trying to achieve? And how is it trying to achieve it? The answer to the first answer is simple. The ad is trying to sell the audience Godiva chocolate. The answer to the second question refers to playing upon the tendencies of the mind. Godiva is using the beautiful and seductive woman to make the audience (likely male) feel special. It is likely that this plays upon the ego and sets rationalization to the side. Thus the
consumer is led into making a connection between the chocolate that is resting on her and the attention from a beautiful woman, a package deal. Now as stated before, while this seemingly has a persuasive effect on the audience, it does not come without its flaws. This ad, and any ad like it, gives off the message that woman, chocolate, and sex are things that can be bought. The ad essentially places chocolate and the woman on the same plane, and since this is an advertisement to buy a product, there is an insinuation that women are also just products for sale. The specific positioning of her body lying on the bed gives off a submissive stance, once again playing on the ego of the consumer and creating the image of a woman being an object of male desire. The main problem here is that women are being objectified simply for the sale of chocolate, when the real focus should just rest on the chocolate being sold.
Our response ad is an attempt to tackle the problem of the objectification of humans, and more specifically the objectification of women as seen in the Godiva Chocolate ad. Our new ad is a still ad that features just chocolate, without the presence of any human beings. In fact, it’s an image of chocolate on a plain white background. There are two pieces of chocolate shown: one is a full-sized piece and
the other is cut open so as to show the consumer the inside qualities of the chocolate. The ad gives no setting or context, it just focuses on what is important, the chocolate. At the bottom of the ad are the words “Godiva Chocolate. It speaks for itself.” The words “it speaks for itself” incites a bit of curiosity for the consumer. It makes the consumer ask “what exactly is it saying?” The catch is that they have to taste it to find out. The simplicity of the ad against the white background goes against traditional advertisement strategies. It causes the consumer to ask themselves “what’s so good that it doesn’t need to be promoted?” once again inciting a curiosity that will hopefully get them to buy the product. The main takeaway of this ad is that we have removed the objectification of women by focusing on the chocolate and playing upon a different part of the brain. Assuming this ad will still generate sales, this ad serves to show how chocolate marketing doesn’t have to be at the expense of the messages the society receives.
We don’t have to promote the objectification of women in order to sell our products. The focus should be more on the product itself and the quality it’s made with as opposed to the body parts of the individual posing with it. We can change the way people think about the world and the people around them. Media has grown to be an instrumental part of our daily lives and can thus be used as a tool to incite change and make the world a better place. We can change the status quo for the better, but it first starts with an awareness of what is wrong so that we can find a way to fix it.
Reichert, Tom; Heckler, Susan; & Jackson, Sally. “The Effects of Sexual Social Marketing Appeals on Cognitive Processing and Persuasion.” Journal of Advertising 30.1 (2001): 13-27. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
Reichert, Tom & Ramirez, Artemio. “Defining Sexually Oriented Appeals in Advertising: a Grounded Theory Investigation”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, (2000): 267-273.