Long a symbol of wealth, prestige, and power, in contemporary European (and now in North American cultures as well), chocolate is also associated with “romantic love, personal indulgence, and festive occasions.” (Leissle, 131)
This play on personal indulgence has led modern day marketers to not only continue to target the elite, but more specifically to women, sexualizing them by creating a narrative that they can be aroused and sinfully satisfied through the act of eating chocolate.
Many foods are believed to have aphrodisiac qualities, including chocolate (e.g. asparagus, almonds, avocados, bananas, basil, arugula, garlic, eggs, figs, oysters, chili peppers, honey, wine, pomegranates). (Martin, “Chocolate expansion”)
Dove Chocolate, a subsidiary of MARS (https://www.dovechocolate.com/aboutdove), has perpetuated this stereotype through a series of advertisements for their new chocolate with almonds. The message delivered through the campaign (print and video) is that only Dove can provide a chocolate so pure and silky. Its visuals, taglines, and representation tell a story that focuses on sensations and indulgent “moments” where true joy seems to live, but only for the exclusive, privileged few.
Dove’s Original Print
Dove’s original print invites the viewer to “nourish” one’s soul through the saturation of one’s senses. This is shown as a guilty pleasure. An attractive woman with flawless skin is seen up-close, enveloped in silky rich fabric. Caught up in the bliss of her “moment,” she appears to be perfectly at ease, naked, a glow in her cheeks, bedroom eyes, hair blowing in an unseen breeze as she rests amid the silk with a secretive smile. This smile seems to imply something intimate, nearly post-coital, as if the viewer has caught a glimpse of her in this luxurious moment; as if she is basking in the delight of a chocolate-induced orgasm.
Chocolate advertisements create these moments, selling the notion that, “women become irrational, narcissistic, or excessively aroused due to chocolate.” (Martin, “Race”)
Dove’s Revised Advertisement
Dove’s revised advertisement also focuses on cherished, magical moments, but instead of the erotic or exclusive, they are moments, alone or shared, that celebrate life’s milestones – monumental or mundane.
The new print focuses on strength and challenging oneself (as seen in the woman rock climbing), unity (a family enjoying an afternoon outdoors), joy (friends jumping on the beach), support and teamwork (a game of wheelchair basketball), firsts (teaching a child to fish), celebration (a group of elderly friends dancing), romantic love (a couple holding a heart), and health (a family sitting down to share a balanced meal). Inspirational natural beauty is also included with the sun setting over a lake and then rising again. The new print encourages viewers to “nourish” their souls and “saturate” their senses through beautiful moments for all.
In sum, chocolate is not a sexualized joy or moment for an elite few, but a food and experience to be enjoyed by all.
Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. Third Edition. Thames & Hudson Ltd: London, 2013. Print.
Martin, Carla D. “Chocolate expansion.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 10 Feb. 2016. Class Lecture.
Martin, Carla D. “Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 30 Mar. 2016. Class Lecture.
Leissle, Kristy. 2012. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121-139. Class Reading.
http://carlyjaneproductions.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/17.DoveAds_-Michael-Thompson.jpg; Carly Jane. 17 September 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2016
https://dovechocolate.com; Dove Chocolate commercial – Senses; May 6, 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2016
https://youtube.com/watch?v=SwPwQ4S4op8&index=1&list=RDSwPwQ4S4op8&nohtml5=False; Dove Chocolate commercial – Senses; May 6, 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2016