Behind every advertisement there is an appeal to the senses which aims to persuade the viewer to partake. These inclinations can go in multiple directions however, I find the most intriguing of these is the advertisement which gives psychological permission to indulge. The image that entices, the catch phrase that lingers, the thought that then haunts throughout seemingly endless workdays…
Often times these adds are playing off of the idea that an everyday indulgence could become something adventurous and somewhat taboo. The idea that ignoring a small amount of guilt might give way to a wilder version of ourselves is a common marketing theme and the chocolate industry has not escaped this form of media manipulation. In fact, the history of the chocolate industry has been littered with these sorts of adds, egging consumers on with sensual imagery or playing on the taboo of indulgence. The above image is an add created in 2014 which was put out by a Brazilian advertising agency called Matriz. The frothy cup of chocolate is purposefully meant to mimic a refreshing cold beer, another product which often carries the stigma of indulgence and taboo, and the caption reads “Here’s to the chocoholics.” Thus comparing the desire for chocolate to be as compelling a force of desire as the addiction to alcohol. Even the lighting suggests the struggle of to indulge or not to indulge: with the left side of the image cast in shadow and the right side illuminated by some unseen light.
The truth about where the shame of chocolate lies are in the disgraceful conditions of how cacao workers are treated. Often times these workers are unpaid children. Often times they have been trafficked. Their work is riddled with hazardous chemicals and dangerous equipment. (Coe 264) One of the ways it is possible to combat these horrific circumstances is to purchase agricultural products which are direct trade certified. This certification means that very exact standards set by the buyer are met by the producer. There are no fees to participate in this certification so the already impoverished are not excluded. Also, the certificate raises the prices of these agricultural goods so the farmers benefit financially according to the quality of the product which means there is incentive to produce better and better products. Ultimately, the goal is to create a close relationship between buyer and producer where the buyer take a more responsible and active role in where there products come from. (Macatonia 1)
The following is an add that challenges the concepts and ideas of the first, directing the consumer to take a different approach when thinking about their chocolate buying decisions.
The tagline “addicted to growth” addresses the same concept as the first add but instead of the thrill of an indulgent personal pleasure it takes takes the concept outside the realm of a self-centered act and encourages the viewer to think about progress. The two cacao trees represent both growth in the literal sense and ecological sense but “support direct trade” moves the idea into the metaphorical sense since the goal is also to create better, fairer, safer working conditions. This means the add is also encouraging socioeconomic growth.
Taboo and indulgence is a fascinating marketing method however the motivation to move our world into a better future, I believe, is just as powerful. There is much left to accomplish in getting ethical working standards for farmers all over the world and the first steps are properly educating the consumer on how to purchase ethical products. If executed correctly, the efforts of advertising agencies could prove to be a powerful weapon in the war against inhumane work practices and conditions.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.
“Going beyond Fair Trade: The Benefits and Challenges of Direct Trade.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.