Why is it that chocolate advertisements, more often than not, focus on women enjoying chocolate and not men? In this blog post, I will challenge that idea. In this groundbreaking Galaxy Chocolate commercial, we see a woman who is clearly enjoying the amazing views around her, the attractive man in front of her, but really, she’s just loving that chocolate. At the end of this article, we’ll explore ideas about an alternate scenario, in which I have created a more inviting and diverse take on the ad, demonstrating a man and a woman sharing chocolate without the divide of the back and front seats of the car.
This Galaxy chocolate ad from 2013, features a computerized rendering of Audrey Hepburn, who is on a bus that seems to have crashed into a farm stand’s cart. After seeing the Galaxy chocolate bar in her purse, she glances out the window and immediately locks eyes with a handsome man, who gestures to the front passenger seat of his car. The music and mood changes as Audrey scoots her way off the bus and walks to the man’s car, stealing the bus driver’s hat in the process. Instead of getting into the front seat like any normal human, she places the bus driver’s hat onto the man’s head and earns a glance of confusion. As Audrey magically appears in the back seat, the man drives off into a landscape of paradise. Audrey tears open the Galaxy chocolate bar wrapper, breaks off a piece, and as she enjoys the chocolate we see another wide pan view of the luxurious oceanside. She has the stereotypical female losing herself to chocolate reaction, without ever sharing a piece with her driver, who was never formally introduced to us.
This ad is definitely marketed towards women as it features one so heavily. Not only is this ad speaking to women and saying “wow, Audrey Hepburn is dead and she likes that chocolate, I’m alive I’ll like it too” It also comments that, “this chocolate will make a hunky man show up in a shiny car.” Now why didn’t she share her chocolate with any of the men surrounding her in this commercial? Well, obviously Audrey Hepburn is not a zombie and couldn’t go off script in this ad to add in her own personality…But with all of the men in this commercial, why can’t we see past the woman?
According to Laura Tan (2), chocolate presented distinctly to women by women may be on its way out. Tan shows that men are currently eating more chocolate than women, and by popularity, sugar is now more evil than fat. This means that today’s modern woman yearns for permission to consume such villainous delicacies, that is, only if their food tracking apps say they have enough room for a candy bar will they spend a dollar or so at CVS. Conversely, there are also studies that show dark chocolate can be beneficial to heart health. While it has it’s health benefits, those women actively counting and scrimping every last detail of their diet, are likely to only feast on chocolate for a “treat yourself” dessert once in a while. So, if more and more women are jumping onto the fad of being overly healthy, why are they still the main stars of chocolate ads?
To challenge the motif of men as background characters; I inlisted the help of two colleagues.
Instead of a beautiful, sunny landscape in paradise with an elegant celebrity sensually consuming chocolate, we see cold and grey urban day with two people in ordinary street clothing. A woman is in the driver’s seat with a man accompanying her in the passenger seat, completely opposite from what we previously saw in the Galaxy chocolate ad where the woman is in the backseat while the man drove. Instead of only seeing a woman enjoy her chocolate, we also see a man enjoying his. One of the stereotypes challenged by this mock ad is that chocolate is always a sexualized object. Shown clearly, both parties are genuinely enjoying their chocolate, not forcing an overly stimulated emotion on top of it. Unlike other stereotypical advertisement images, the woman in this photo is happily enjoying her chocolate, instead of sensually taking a bite while wearing red lipstick and silk surrounds her. Seeing a man enjoying his chocolate not only markets to men who will think “oh if he is enjoying his chocolate with that girl, I can too!” it continues to market to women as well.
In conclusion; if ads were more inclusive, products would in turn be more inclusive. For example, Aerie (the lingerie line by American Eagle), started its campaign “Aerie Real” or #aeriereal. With this, Aerie put an end to retouching and photoshopping of their models leaving in traits that make their models human: unlike other companies that will retouch every freckle and wrinkle until their models are plastic. Their demographic ranges from young women aged 15-21 (6) and these real unretouched women are an inspiration for them to be happy and proud of the body they have. If any of the major chocolate companies out there started advertising with real people; and no, not the “real” people used in car commercials, but actual real live people that go to work every day, cook dinner for their families, and occasionally want a chocolate bar, their ads would be diverse and inclusive to a broader range of individual customers.
1-3- “Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM
2- “How we resurrected Audrey Hepburn(TM) for the Galaxy Chocolate Ad” http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/oct/08/how-we-made-audrey-hepburn-galaxy-ad
3- “The Secrets Behind Advertising Chocolate to Women and Why it’s about to Change Forever” http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/do-chocolate-firms-target-women-flake-cadburys-sweets-confectionery
4- “Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You? Thank Your Microbes” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-dark-chocolate-good-for-you-thank-your-microbes/
5- Aerie Real https://www.ae.com/featured-aeriereal/aerie/s-cat/6890055
6- “Aerie’s Unretouched Ads ‘Challenge Supermodel Standards’ for Young Women” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/aerie-unretouched-ads-photos_n_4618139.html