Snickers and Sexism: How Far is too Far in Advertising?

Snickers-Boxing-Gloves

Figure 1,Retrieved from: Snickers.com

 

The chocolate bar Snickers, which is a brand of the Mars corporation, began an advertising campaign featuring several advertisements which used the tagline “YOU’RE NOT YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” (Waxman, 2014). In these advertisements the Mars corporation attempts to make light out of how individuals, primarily men, behave when they are hungry portraying them as acting in a manner which is unlike who they would normally behave when they are not hungry (Snickers, 2016). Despite the intentional shock value that these ads evoke (Waxman, 2014), several underlying themes are portrayed in the advertisements including loss of control over an individual’s behavior, the over-sexualization of women, and, in the example used in figure 1, possibly portrays domestic violence towards women. This blog post will focus on an analysis of the advertisement from the campaign in figure 1 as it is compared to an original created advertisement portrayed in figure 2 that was created to depict the Snickers product in a manner that does not stereotype, over-sexualize, or condone domestic violence towards women and portrays the Snickers product for what it actually is, a food product.

 

IMG_0675

Figure 2. Original Work Advertisement

 

In the original advertisement portrayed in figure 1, the actors consist on a woman dressed in a bra and underwear with the arms of another individual that probably belong to a man based on the visual factors used including arm hair (Waxman, 2014). The woman appears to be standing in a seductive sexual pose with her eyes closed and holding her hair as if she is welcoming the man to take her bra off. The man in the image seems to be having trouble removing her bra because he is wearing boxing gloves. Above the boxing gloves is the caption “YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” that is intended to make several inferences to him being unable to remove her bra and continue with the assumed sexual activity that they appear to be beginning to engage in. The advertisement does not show or detail any representation to the product, what it looks like, has in it, or even that it is a food product. Several problems exist with this advertisement, mainly that the advertisement uses sex to sell a chocolate bar. Additionally, the advertisement also could promote violence toward women because the man is wearing boxing gloves, a product that is worn during a fight, perhaps implying that he is ready to fight her. Because the woman is facing away from the man the theme of potential violence could be fueled based on the fact that she has her eyes closed it could appear that she is afraid of what he may do as he prepares to hit her, perhaps out of his frustration at not being able to remove her bra.

 

In the advertisement in figure 2, the original work advertisement, a Snickers chocolate bar is portrayed as broken down into its four main parts, chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and nougat (Snickers, 2016). In the advertisement a question is posed if the individual reading it is hungry, beginning with a story for the reader as they see four bowls of items that when added together equal satisfaction from hunger with a Snickers bar being shown at the bottom which is what all of the ingredients look like when added together. This advertisement, unlike the advertisement featuring the woman and the man’s arms, does not portray any people, only the product being advertised. Because the original work advertisement does not portray people and it does not make any reference to people it does not sexualize or degrade women like the original advertisement does that sexualizes women and promotes domestic violence.

 

The advertisement campaign run by the Mars Corporation to sell Snickers chocolate bars has been referred to as being edgy, using bold eye catching views to capture the attention of the readers of the advertisements (MB, 2014). Despite the success of the Snickers campaign many of the advertisements have created negative media attention to the product because of the sexual, violent, stereotypical nature of the ads (Waxman, 2014). Backlash against the advertisements has not only come from community groups against domestic violence and racial discrimination but from other chocolate companies as well such as Cadbury which released an advertisement campaign called #BOOSTNUTS where their competing chocolate bar to the Snickers bar is portrayed in a non-sexual or demeaning fashion (figure 3). The competing advertisement campaign is meant to boost awareness to the sexism that exists in product advertisements, including chocolate advertisements done by the Mars Corporation.

boost-sexism

Figure 3, Retrieved from: http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

 

While the debate against sexism is important, and it is positive that Cadbury brought it to light, the root problem is that the Mars Corporation believed they did nothing wrong with their advertisement campaign (Chambers, 2014). The comments form the Mars Corporation regarding the backlash of the advertisement is an outward display of how the mindset of the general public has become more accepting of sexual references, violent scenes, and discrimination being used in advertisements (Chacko, 2016). Unless the trend and patterns of consumer behavior changes based on advertising motivating behavior companies will continue to use sex and violence in their advertisements and the discrimination, stereotypes, sexual innuendo, and over-sexualization of violence will continue to be prevalent in main stream advertisements (Liston, 2014).

 

References

Chacko, R. (2016). The Mystery of Sex in Advertising | Commonplace. Retrieved April 06, 2016, from http://www.mhlearningsolutions.com/commonplace/index.php?q=node/5957

Chambers, B. (2014). Street harassment commonly used in ads. Retrieved April 07, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/street-harassment-commonly-used-in-ads-1.2857428

Liston, M. (2014). Snickers’ ‘Anti-Gender Bias’ ad gets all the wrong attention. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

MB. (2014). Snickers – Ad Analysis. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://snickersad.blogspot.com/

Waxman, O. (2014). This Snickers Ad Manages to Be Sexist to Both Men and Women. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://time.com/40255/snickers-ad-manages-to-be-sexist-to-both-men-and-women/

 

 

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