Tag Archives: axe

As Irresistible as Chocolate

The scene opens with a lanky, half-naked teenage boy in front of a bathroom mirror, spraying himself with the standard amount of Axe body spray – way too much. He rests the bottle of Axe Dark Temptations on the sink and the camera pans out to reveal he has now turned to solid chocolate. A catchy tune rifts in the background as this “chocolate man” goes about his day, the object of every woman’s sweets craving and sexual desire.

“As irresistible as chocolate, new Axe Dark Temptation”

The video above is one of a series of commercials and advertisements released by Axe Body Spray to promote their chocolate-scented cologne line, Axe Dark Temptation. This particular ad even went on to win Gold at the Cannes International Film Lions Festival in 2008. Though not an ad for a chocolate product itself, this chocolate cologne commercial speaks to the warped perception that women find chocolate irresistible and somehow derive a sexual satisfaction from the food product. But perhaps even more disturbingly, it promotes the idea that a woman’s sexuality could easily be manipulated with something as simple as cheap body spray.

Since the mid-90s, advertisements for chocolate and chocolate related products have capitalized on the sexuality of women to promote their products to the masses. The misogyny and prejudice in the representation of the female gender is rampant. “Woman as consumers of chocolate have historically been depicted as obsessed by the product….chocolate has supposedly addictive properties which women are unable to resist.” (Robertson, 2010). Within this trend, a common method frequently used by advertisers is the “fetishizing” chocolate. “One misconception about chocolate that is exploited by contemporary advertising is that it is an aphrodisiac” (Fahim, 2016). This idea manifests in a variety of ways in popular media – the depiction of women finding solace in chocolate and not men, women having “a moment” with their chocolate, women exhibiting irrational and animalistic behavior to obtain said chocolate, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 1.56.21 PM

In the above scene of the Axe Dark Temptations ad, two women are ravenously licking the chocolate boy. Their euphoric expressions elude to the idea that the action provides them more than just satiation of hunger.

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The two ads my group mates, Jared Cowan and Alison Stein, and I have created in response to the Axe “Chocolate boy” ads are intended to parody the notion that women cannot distinguish between consumptive and sexual desires. When one replaces the food product “chocolate” with other delicious food products, it becomes explicitly obvious how flawed the logic used by Axe in the Dark Temptations is. We hope to show that encouraging men to spray on chocolate scented cologne makes just as much sense as encouraging men to spray on “pasta” or “burger” scented cologne. If women are truly as brainless and undiscerning as Axe makes them out to be, then surely, by the same logic, pasta and burger cologne should be just as effective?

Taking a step back, it is easy to write off the misogyny in commercials like Axe as humor or simply a joke made in poor taste. But the manipulation of a woman’s sexuality in such a context ultimately speaks to an imbalance of power. In Marcel Mauss’s “Essays on the Gift” (1967), he notes that the exchange of chocolate is typically from a powerful entity, a parent or a man, to a less powerful entity, the child or the woman. To equate sexual desires to chocolate cravings, as is the case in many of these advertisements, is to suggest that sexuality can be “controlled” or manipulated through a commodity. Whether chocolate is used to coax an angry lover out of her tantrum or, in this case, lure a gym full of woman to you, it is wrongfully depicted as a tool of control. This stereotype is harmful because it diminishes a woman’s right to choose who/what she is attracted to and in which way.

Works Cited

Axe – “Chocolate Man” Vegaolmosponce, 2008. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3qYT60DSKQ&nohtml5=False&gt;.

Fahim, Jamal. “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing.”Oxyscholar. Occidental College, 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Mauss, Marcel, and E. E. Evans-Pritchard. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. New York: Norton, 1967. Print.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. 2010. 1-131. Print.




Taste the Dark Temptation: Sex in Chocolate-Inspired Products


Chocolate and romance go together, most people would agree. A strong argument can be made that chocolate is an aphrodisiac as there are many ties between chocolate and romance in history. The Aztecs may have been the first on record to believe that chocolate had sex inducing properties. The Aztec emperor Montezuma was claimed to consume goblets of chocolate in copious amount to stimulate his amorous energy. Casanova, known as the “world’s greatest lover”, touted chocolate to increase his romantic desires. Myths and stories aside, the modern chocolate industry has been at the forefront to remind us of not only the romantic traits of chocolate, but also how it’s the one sweet treat a women cannot resist.

Advertisements are made of young women satisfying the desire of sexual pleasure by tearing the foil off a piece of chocolate, closing her eyes, taking a bite and wanting more as it melts on the lips. Unfortunately, sexualized representations in chocolate advertising are so common that consumers have adapted such depiction. Chocolate has been portrayed as an “intoxicant possessing the power to comfort, reward and satisfy sexual desires (Fahim, 2010).” In particular, the sexual desire is feminized.


Chocolate takes many forms: Think about bars, kisses, chunks, fudges, syrups, malts, ice cream, cakes, and shakes. But it also takes the form of inspiration for other products. Such products exploit the use of chocolate as a fulfillment for sexual desires. Axe, the men’s grooming product, came out with chocolate-inspired products called the “Dark Temptation”. The crux of the advertisement is that if girls like chocolate, they will like a guy who smells like chocolate. Heavy emphasis was placed on the “irresistible” nature of chocolate as a tool to attract “needy” women. I proposed an advertisement where the concept of “dark” and “irresistible” is replaced with something more appropriate.


“Years of advertising have left the impression Axe is all about sex (Neff, 2014).”

The following advertisement (2008) is from Axe’s marketing campaign of its new product “Dark Temptation”. The advertisement depicts a white male who turns into a chocolate man after using the Axe’s Dark Temptation spray. He then walks on the street where young white women get sexually attracted towards him. He is shown in different areas where women gather to bite and lick his body. The advertisement features a “chocolate man” besieged by sex and chocolate crazed females. The advertisement emphasizes the total transformation of an “ordinary” male into an “attractive idol” of female masses. The “chocolate man” is seen as smiling with open eyes, suggesting that he approves of this behavior of women getting attracted towards him. Although the advertisement is about a male fragrance and is not exclusively about chocolate, it clearly depicts how chocolate is viewed in the Western society. The advertisement depicts the idea that chocolate is irresistible, and Axe has developed a cologne that is as irresistible as chocolate.

The following still images have been taken from the video:


In this image, “chocolate man” is sitting in a movie theatre while two females are licking his cheeks. One point to be noted here is the normal behavior of all males sitting behind. This again depicts the desire of chocolate being feminized.


In this image, girls working out at the gym stop their workout as they see the chocolate man. This is depicting the concept of chocolate as woman’s guilty pleasure.





Throughout the video and other advertisements (such as shown above), women are shown as “irrational” without any other feelings besides orgasmically enjoying the presence of chocolate. The message of each of these advertisements couldn’t be clearer: “use Axe and get laid. Repeatedly, by different women (Lindstrom, 2011).”

Proposed Advertisement

Axe heavily emphasized on the “dark” and “irresistible” nature of the chocolate. The use of the phrase “dark temptation” is interesting in this advertisement as it suggests that a male should seek the “dark” characteristics (evident by the chocolate man) in order to gain the attention of white women (evident by the point that all women in the advertisement were white). Emphasis was also placed on the “irresistible” nature of the chocolate and that of a women. The phrase “irresistible” suggests that women cannot control their desire for chocolate/sexual pleasure and will always find an excuse for it.


The primary objective of the proposed advertisement is to challenge the “dark” and “irresistible” nature of chocolate and its association with women.

The phrase “dark” was replaced with “pure” suggesting that any temptation that should occur after smelling the fragrance should be natural. Furthermore, removing “dark” takes away the notion of black male bodies as hyper-masculine objects. As mentioned earlier, the phrase “irresistible” was used in the old advertisement to suggest that women cannot control their desire. The phrase “irresistible” was replaced with “pleasant” thus making an attempt to remove any sexual association with chocolate.

The one problem with the new advertisement, however, is that it does not address the basic problem of associating chocolate as an intoxicant possessing the power to satisfy sexual desire, especially that of female. Perhaps the problem is not only with the advertising companies portraying such image of women but rather its wide spread. Chocolate’s association with love has been attributed to the cultural practices of receiving chocolate on Valentine’s Day. However, it seems to me that chocolate is pleasurable simply because it is delicious. Chocolate’s association with love and sex is propagated by the chocolate marketing.




O’connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 July 2006. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
Neff, Jack. “Axe Goes Celibate: Why Unilever Chose to Forgo Sex in Ad for New Scent.” Advertising Age CMO Strategy RSS. N.p., 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/unilever-chose-complexity-sex-axe-scent/294539/&gt;.
Fahim, Jamal. “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing.” Oxyscholar. Occidental College, 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student&gt;.
Lindstrom, Martin. “Can a Commercial Be Too Sexy For Its Own Good? Ask Axe.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/10/can-a-commercial-be-too-sexy-for-its-own-good-ask-axe/246863/&gt;.

“Romance and Chocolate.” Majesticgardenscom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://majesticgardens.com/romance-and-chocolate/&gt;.

Reiley, Amy. “Chocolate – the Aphrodisiac of the World’s Greatest Lovers.”Eat Something Sexy. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://eatsomethingsexy.com/wordpress/aphrodisiac-foods/chocolate/&gt;.


UNILEVER – AXE – DARK TEMPTATION: http://www.jortatamaki.com/axe-dark-temptation/

Axe Dark Temptation: http://guiahombres.com/axe-dark-temptation-la-gama-completa-que-huele-a-chocolate/




Sexy Chocolate: How white women and black men are aphrodisiacs in advertising

Axe’s Dark Temptation commercial (2008) portrays a young white man who morphs into a “chocolate man” with brown skin, an exaggerated smile and bulging eyes after using the body spray. He then walks around a city while young thin white women scramble to snap his arm off, aggressively lick and bite his ears, and seem controlled by their cravings for chocolate/his body. They have no hesitations about consuming him and do not ask for permission to touch him. He seems in on the joke; at one point he breaks off his nose and sprinkles it into two white women’s ice cream cones without asking, because he already assumes their reaction will be delight and ecstasy. Even though the chocolate man is carnally exploited by white female desire, his plastered smile underlines that this is exactly what he wanted, and that is why he used the product in the first place. Despite that this commercial does not advertise a chocolate product, the fact that chocolate is used as a vessel to advertise the deodorant is significant in understanding how Western society conflates race and sexual desire, masculinity, heterosexual relationships, and chocolate as a food.

The commercial operates on the stereotype that women cannot resist chocolate and therefore will not be able to resist men who use this dark temptation spray. This is even literally written on their website advertising the fragrance today (2015).


This trope has been done again and again in chocolate advertising involving young white women; it is implied that chocolate is something that they irrationally, orgasmically enjoy, and that in exchange for affection from these women, men should give them chocolate products (as evidenced by Valentine’s Day marketing).


The blatant undertones of race take center stage in this ad; the chocolate man looks like a classic minstrel blackface stereotype, and the exaggerated smile has a history in chocolate advertisements such as the French company Banania’s ads that echo the Uncle Tom motif, a black man content with his exploitation for the pleasure of white consumption. There is also a history of black bodies posing as literal chocolate snacks for white cravings in Western advertising (i.e. Little Coco and Honeybunch from Rowntree’s Cocoa in the U.K., Conguitos in Spain), so this Axe storyline is nothing new (Robertson 42-44).

blackface     “classic” minstrel make-upScreen shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.38 PM (screenshot of video above)


banana  Uncle Tom imagery  (France)

Axe is simply following tradition (i.e. Old Spice) by conflating the black male body with white female sexual desire and white male longing and envy when marketing their product. Axe is operating on the idea that in order to obtain the sexual attention of white women one must acquire “dark” characteristics (the product’s name isn’t even “Chocolate Temptation”—it’s “Dark Temptation.”) This ad shows that American society has a long way to go concerning portrayals of white women serving as the ultimate “trophy” for male sexual desire and black male bodies as sexual, hyper-masculine objects in chocolate advertising.

The second advertisement is for a fictional perfume for women called “White Chocolate Truffle” with the tagline “Anything but Vanilla”.


The image of a young, curvy white woman wearing a revealing evening gown while unwrapping and eating a white chocolate truffle already echoes many themes already mentioned in this essay; white female beauty, lust, and chocolate products are all fused together, and the presence of the evening gown implies wealth and upper class status. White skin, specifically white female skin, has long been associated with quality and high social capital.  Here intersectionality plays an important role (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 11)—for even though her white skin is historically viewed as superior and desirable, she is still a woman, and ultimately in many chocolate advertisements her body itself is a commodity to be consumed, not unlike the truffle in her hand, or the implied truffles popping out of her neckline waiting to be “unwrapped” and enjoyed.


Commodification of women’s bodies (vimeo)

The message is clear: Women need to buy this perfume to smell like white chocolate—a desirable, sweet treat so they can smell as appealing/be as appealing as this sexy woman eating an actual white chocolate truffle, with curves that mimic the truffle shape of the candy to be consumed to satisfy another type of desire (male desire), yet again drawing a connection between receiving heterosexual attention by becoming more like a chocolate product.

Whereas the Axe commercial may be seem odd at best, offensive at worst to 2015 viewers, the White Chocolate Truffle ad looks like something we have all seen before in magazines, and could easily star a buxom white celebrity such as Christina Hendricks, Scarlett Johansson, or Marilyn Monroe, which brings up other complicated issues. White women who showcase their curvy bodies are associated with glamour, class and sex appeal in Hollywood, whereas women of color with round bodies in many cases are criticized for being overly promiscuous or classless for displaying their curves (one just has to look at the backlash for the recent cover art for Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album to understand the double standard.) (Duca).








Why is society not offended when white curves are showcased? Would a milk chocolate truffle ad using Nicki’s curves be effective? 

This taps into Western cultural associations with the words “vanilla” and “chocolate” and their conflation with blandness, boringness, pure, clean, and whiteness and spiciness, exciting qualities, dirty, naughty, and people of color. This ad is communicating that this perfume is “anything but vanilla”, implying the user will be the opposite of vanilla–like chocolate—embodying the scandalous, sexually titillating qualities that chocolate (people of color) supposedly imbibe, but still while staying safely within the privilege of being white, and therefore “classy”, and like cocoa butter, sweeter and without as strong a kick. (Martin Lecture 16 Slide 12). The metaphorical imagery is allowing the white female consumer to become sexier and more sexual through the means of chocolate, while still safely and demurely playing up to common images of white female sexuality.

Ultimately, both white women and black men are consistently portrayed as sexual objects in chocolate advertising. Time will tell if this trend will continue.

Works Cited (in order of appearance)

“Dark Temptation” 10 April 2015. http://www.theaxeeffect.com/#/axe-products/dark-temptation-body-spray

Robertson, Emma. “Does you mean dis?: cocoa marketing and race”. Chapter 1: “A deep physical reason: gender, race, and the nation in chocolate consumption. Chocolate, Women, and Empire A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press. New York. pages 35-44.

Blackface. February 6, 2014. Hulton Archive Image. banana1015.com 10 April 2015.

Banania, French Chocolate Drink. Image. Slide 13, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Conguitos, Spanish Chocolate Candies. Video. Slide 14, Lecture 16: Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

White Chocolate Truffle Ad original work of Julie Coates, conceived by Julie Coates and Dami Aladesanmi.

Six Basic Tenets of Critical Race Theory. Slide 11, Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.

Naked lady covered in chocolate. https://vimeo.com/6742298

Christina Hendricks advertisement. 20 Sept 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk./tvshowbiz/article-2074214. 10 April 2015.

Scarlett Johansson Gallery. mobile.fanshare.com. 10 April 2015.

“Marilyn Monroe voted cleavage queen.” http://www.santabanta.com/newsmaker/3892. Image.

Duca, Lauren. “Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Cover Reveals Something Way Bigger than Her Butt”. HuffPost Entertainment. 31 July 2014. Huffington Post. 10 April 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/middlebrow-nicki-minaj_n_5635394.html

Chocolate and Vanilla. Slide 12.Lecture 16. Race, ethnicity, and gender in chocolate advertisements. March 30, 2015. AAAS 119x, Carla Martin. Harvard University.