Tag Archives: gender and sexuality

Snickers, Who They Are When They’re Hungry

The World’s Best Selling Chocolate Bar,

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/07/01/mars-global-cmo-expecting-brand-love-step-too-far-consumers

Snickers is the one of the top selling candies around the world. According to a 2015 report, Snickers sold approximately 405.3 million units and generated a revenue of $386.2 million.[1] Snickers is one of the many candy brands under the Mars Wrigley Confectionery (Mars) umbrella. As one of Mars’ most successful candies, Snickers serves as an indicator about the extent in which Mars is a responsible chocolate manufacturer.

In the analysis it will show how Mars does not commit to the five principles it has set out for itself. From its level of sustainability to the advertisement campaigns it has distributed over the years, Mars has not demonstrated the industry leading ideals it claims to uphold in its company, a company that sells its products to more than 180 countries. Mars neglects its responsibility as a world leading producer of chocolate, and looking through the lens of the “world’s best-selling candy bar” will reveal areas of much improvement. As a company that looks to constantly grow, and appears to have an unceasing appetite, much like the subjects of one of its advertisements (seen below), it appears that it will cut corners and feed into false and dangerous stereotypes in order to satisfy that hunger. As their famous ad campaign popularly coined, “Snickers, you’re not you when you’re hungry.”

[1] CNBC, The Daily Meal. “America’s Favorite Chocolate Candies.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/americas-favorite-chocolate-candies.

“Satisfying your hunger”,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NC0f1nvEz8

Snickers’ Mission

According to Mars before any decision is made they consider 5 key principles: Quality of work and contributions to society, Responsibility (as individuals and a company) to act now, Mutuality of benefit to their stakeholders, Efficiency to use their resources to maximum effect, Freedom to make their own decisions.[1] As a company that has been around for more than 100 years, it seems obvious that it would be able to hold itself to such high ideals and still experience high levels of success. However, as will be revealed, their desire to benefit stakeholders seems to be their strongest decider.

An important point of emphasis for Mars in order to seek higher revenues for their iconic candy bars is through their advertisements. No matter how great a candy bar is, people still need to want to buy it. James Miller, global head of strategy for Mars at BBDO, an advertising company, revealed what made their six-year ad campaign so effective. Miller attributed the success of the campaign to the fame it was able to attribute through expert commercials and recognizable celebrities, such as Betty White, Aretha Franklin, and Rowan Atkinson who portrays his famous character Mr. Bean.

[1] https://www.mars.com/about/five-principles


Mr. Bean TV Advertisement,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIVDxL2lgN4

Miller speaks extensively about where Snickers was lacking in its public persona, and how the people of BBDO looked to help Mars boost Snickers market share and retain its throne on top of the chocolate bar industry.

Miller, unsurprisingly, leaves out numerous examples of the ways in which Snickers and other chocolate manufacturers have attempted to sell their chocolate in racially and heterosexually charged ways.

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Snickers’ Fumble on Superbowl Sunday

In 2007 Snickers released a commercial during Super Bowl XLI that was met with strong criticism from many LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Snickers Super Bowl XLI Commercial,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8XbTsbkwII

The commercial was accompanied by footage released on Snickers’ website that showed professional football players reacting to the actions in the commercial. The excuse for the content of the commercial was to “capture the attention of Snickers’ core consumers.”[1] Correctly identified by the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the suggestion that in order to be a man does not include kissing other men is completely reprehensible. The assertion that “core” Snickers consumers enjoyed the commercial completely alienates people of the LGBTQ community that may have enjoyed Snickers, and feeds into the ostracizing of people that identify as LGBTQ.

Unfortunately, in the chocolate industry the form of feminizing chocolate and the association of hetero-female sexuality is not a new phenomena. Though two men kissing is no less manly than whatever acts are considered manly, such as working on a car or causing physical pain to another man, Snickers looked to feminize the two men that accidentally kissed, claiming that such an action is not manly. Emma Robertson in Chocolate, Women, and Empire  identifies the early marketing of chocolate as being something that women consume and is reserved for heterosexual people.[2] The images of elegant women being courted by men were common images seen in advertising. However, the images and sexualization of women as it pertained to chocolate transformed into chocolate turning men to be “women-like” and, according to Snickers,  making men momentarily lose their sense of manhood.

How would portraying that message be quality a quality contributor to society? How would mocking the idea of men kissing, and isolating LGBTQ members be responsibly? With those heavy questions, one would imagine Snickers would not be such a tasteless decision twice. Think again. 


[1] Clark, Amy. “Snickers ‘Kiss’ Super Bowl Ad Pulled.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 11 Jan. 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snickers-kiss-super-bowl-ad-pulled/.

[2] Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.

Getting Racial

One of Snickers’ latest commercials features singer-songwriter Elton John and rapper Anthony “Boogie” Dixson. The seemingly light-hearted transformation of an iconic pop star turned gritty rapper via Snickers has many racial implications that spans the chocolate confectionery market.

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Snickers ,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2qHuEs80Q

A close viewing of the commercial reveals many aspects that are racially charged. The setting of a lower-income household typically seen in the Los-Angeles suburban/urban areas is surrounded by typical scenery in many LA-based films. Individuals are casually dressed participating in different leisurely activities. When entering the household the viewer is met by the image of a group of people, mostly black, viewing a rap battle. The first person viewers see engaging in the battle is a black man dawning dread locks, and the crowd is reacting positively to his insults of the other participant. As the battle transitions to the other participant the viewer sees Elton John, an openly gay white-English performer, dressed in his typical flashy clothing. Predictably, as Elton John begins to sing one of his hit singles “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” the crowd reacts unfavorably. As expected Elton John is offered a Snickers to satisfy his apparent hunger and be the type of person that would fit into that sort of setting. With one bite of the Snickers Elton Johns turns into a straight black-American man, with the grittiness to fit into that environment.

There are many aspects to unpack in the commercial, but the three that are the most apparent are sexual orientation, race, and economic status. As unpacked before, the assertion that a gay person engaging in a seemingly manly or gritty activity is outside of their character is, again, an antiquated belief in society. Though not an explicitly stated portion of the commercial, it is an underlying message that a person could readily identify. Another, implied aspect in the commercial is that of economic status. Though chocolate initially was marketed as an exotic luxury only to be enjoyed by those in the elite classes, as it was widely manufactured and available to those in middle and lower classes, its identity has changed. As in the commercial, Elton John, a highly recognizable performer of high society is found out of place in a low income community. With one bite of the Snickers Sir Elton John transforms into everday rapper Boogie, someone that appears to fit perfectly into the lower community. From the differences in speech to the differences in clothing, Snickers implies the type of person that belongs in that community, and the class of people that would/should enjoy their affordable product.

Lastly, the image of a white man turning into a black man is one of the more racist images portrayed in chocolate marketing. The parallel between blackness and chocolate was a common theme in many early advertisements.

Rowntree’s Honeybunch,
https://chocolateclass.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/no-more-misogynoir-challenging-the-problematic-depictions-of-african-women-in-chocolate-advertising/



Tying the image of a stereotypical black children using the characters of Honeybunch and Little Coco to chocolate was a common practice in the early to mid-20th Century. From the appearance of dark skin and big lips, to the manner of speech, the black caricature developed was a popular and highly recognizable image.[1] However, the otherness portrayed in the Snickers ad is not one trying to portray an exotic foreignness, rather a familiarity. The image of a black person in the ghetto is supposed to be familiar to the international public. The portrayal of living in a lower-income community is supposed to be portrayed as a cool or hip experience, something that one bite of chocolate can help you experience without facing the real-world implications of it.

The racial, socioeconomic, and heterosexual themes played out in Snickers’ advertisements are a distant reality from the Quality and Responsibility that Mars claims to uphold. In fairness, Snickers does have commercials and ad campaigns that due reach that ideal, but that does not excuse the areas in which it could use much improvement.


[1] Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.

Sustainability

As company that looks to act responsibly and has the freedom to make sustainable decisions, Snickers is not looked on favorably as a sustainable product. According to rankabrand data collected in 2016, Snickers received a D grade in sustainability. Rankabrand uses 28 questions/qualifiers for a sustainable product, Snickers only satisfied 8 of the qualifiers. The qualifiers are grouped into categories of Climate Change/Carbon Emissions, Labor Conditions/Fairtrade, and Environmental Policy.[1]


[1] https://rankabrand.org/chocolate-brands/Snickers#detailed-report

Snickers Sustainability,

https://rankabrand.org/chocolate-brands/Snickers#detailed-report

Such a low grade proves that Mars’ proclaimed commitment to leading the industry in sustainability is not met by action. Sustainability is not just how much a brand claims to commit to change, but where its commitment is placed. Failing to use a significant amount of renewable energy, failing to ensure to buy their raw materials from plantations that are certified to not use child labor, and failing to commit to reducing its carbon footprint to a significant amount are large enough factors to conclude Snickers failure as a sustainable industry leading brand.

Conclusion

Mars has a long road ahead of it before it can claim being an industry leader in the chocolate manufacturing industry. The award winning ad campaign is littered with images and themes that are reminiscent of a racist and bigoted past. While making allowance for jokes and humor, the suggestion of otherness when in relation to sexual orientation, gender, or race is unacceptable. Tapping into prejudices to increase revenues is not being a company of quality or responsibility. As a company that aims to be sustainable it largely falls short of even being average. Snickers’ status of being an industry leader in popularity of product is indisputable, its stronghold of the chocolate bar market is squarely secured with very little challenge from any other brand. But to what cost does Snickers retain its throne, who is Snickers when it’s hungry? Apparently, it is a company that speaks boldly about innovation but whose actions reflect one of a selfish manufacturer that is only worried about its profit margins. It is a company that doesn’t insure its products are free of slavery, it doesn’t make sure that its impact on the planet is minimal, and feeds into antiquated and dangerous stereotypes.

Works Cited

Clark, Amy. “Snickers ‘Kiss’ Super Bowl Ad Pulled.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 11 Jan. 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snickers-kiss-super-bowl-ad-pulled/.

CNBC, The Daily Meal. “America’s Favorite Chocolate Candies.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/americas-favorite-chocolate-candies.

Miller , James. “Case Study: How Fame Made Snickers’ ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ Campaign a Success.” Campaign US, 2016, http://www.campaignlive.com/article/case-study-fame-made-snickers-youre-not-when-youre-hungry-campaign-success/1413554.

Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.

Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac: A Historical Analysis

Dating back to the earliest known origins of chocolate—or rather its characteristic ingredient, cacao—this extraordinary substance has consistently been associated with socially intimate and aphrodisiacal properties. The particular manifestation of these aphrodisiacal properties, however, and how they have taken shape over time tells an interesting story of the power of media and advertising. Much of this early knowledge is situated around the ritual practices and mythology of the Maya civilization in the pre-Columbian period, during which cacao was heavily featured and revered in the context of fertility and marriage rites. In the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiché Maya documenting Mayan mythology, “when the gods were creating humans in their final form,” cacao was among the “foods which were to form their bodies” (Coe & Coe 39). This notion of cacao playing a role in the creation of human life is a recurring theme in surviving remnants of Mayan society, bringing to mind a clear connection with procreation and fertility. In much the same way, archeological/anthropological research has indicated the “widespread, perhaps even pan-Maya, use of chocolate in betrothal and marriage ceremonies” (Coe & Coe 60). Similar beliefs and rituals held true for Mixtec and Aztec societies, as we can see in this detail from the Codex Nuttall (Mixtec book) displayed below, or in the Aztec poem that refers to “‘flowering chocolate’ [as] a metaphor for luxuriousness and sensuality” (Coe & Coe 104).

Picture6.jpg
Figure 1: This image shows an exchange of a frothy cup of chocolate from the bride, Lady Thirteen Serpent, to the Mixtec King, Lord Eight Deer (1051 BCE) (Coe & Coe 97)

Even more explicit, is the account of Spanish conquistador, Bernal Díaz de Castillo, upon attending a lavish Aztec banquet in which he writes about the emperor, including that “ they brought him some cups of fine gold, with a certain drink made of cacao, which they said was for success with women” (Coe & Coe 96). While this certainly speaks to the Spanish conquistadors’ beliefs and interpretations of cacao, whether there is any actual truth to this testimony is unsubstantiated. However this did not stop the notion of cacao as a sexual stimulant from spreading throughout Europe after it was first introduced in Spain. Almost a century after for instance, Dr. Henry Stubbes (1632-72), a prominent English authority on chocolate, was “convinced, as were most of his contemporaries in England and on the Continent, that chocolate was an aphrodisiac” (Coe & Coe 171).

If we fast forward to the 19th and early 20th centuries, these themes associated with chocolate seem to not only persist, but become ever-more present. This is likely the consequence of two key changes in the chocolate industry, the first being Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten’s 1828 invention of the hydraulic press, which allowed for the production of chocolate in solid form. The second shift lies in the industrialization of food, which gave way to mass production and, by extension, lower food costs, resulting in the democratization of chocolate (Coe & Coe 234-235). Considering its history as a substance once only available to the elite and wealthy upper echelons of society, this new potential for chocolate to be available and affordable to the masses meant immense economic opportunity—cue mass marketing. Chocolate advertising in its earlier days often featured women providing chocolate to their families, as the ideal wife and mother—roles which were both, at the time, at the forefront of any socially accepted notion of female identity. Kids were also considerably featured in these ads, thus by placing chocolate at the nucleus of the family bond, we are reminded of the original role cacao played in marriage and fertility for the Maya.

Figure 2: Nestle poster, c. 1898 – A mother, depicted in accordance with the beauty ideals of the time, is with her kids in nature, which advances the wholesome, natural image of milk chocolate
Figure 3: Post-war Rowntree’s Cocoa ad; acts as a clear representation of the role & expectations of women

In a similar vein, ads in which chocolate is the embodiment of romance soon seem to take center stage—at least for those ads targeted toward males (which speaks to a whole other dimension on the gendering of foods, but I’ll leave that for another discussion). While this notion of chocolate is clearly linked to aphrodisia, it is also convenient for business when it comes to special occasions centered around love and affection, such as Valentine’s Day and anniversaries.

Figure 4

Figure 5

As is hinted at in the ads above, this idea of chocolate as the perfect gift for a girlfriend or wife goes beyond its supposed inherent powers of attraction, to suggest that it’s so irresistible that it could win over any woman. The implication here being that simply a box of chocolates can render a woman so feeble-minded and lacking control over her desires that it removes any sexual resistance. This, again, plays into sexist stereotypes of women as mindless, emotional, pretty, sweet objects, lacking any intelligence, authority, or confidence.

While it would be nice to think this sort of messaging has subsided in recent years, the truth of the matter is that this pattern of perpetuating socially prescribed feminine ideals and stereotypes, particularly in relation to romance and desire is still common practice, only less overtly sexist. A prime example of this is for an Axe commercial in which women uncontrollably lust over a man who, upon spraying Axe Dark Temptation, turns into a walking, talking piece of chocolate. Despite being cloaked in a veil of humor, this message here is no different from that found in earlier advertising.

In a similar vein, while society has changed over time to embrace more progressive values, namely freedom of sexual expression and independence, it’s interesting to see how chocolate advertising has used this to make even more explicit the connection between chocolate, desire, and pleasure—all the while often maintaining their use of female stereotypes and ideals, which only works to delay or set back feminist efforts. That is, women are sexualized, objectified, and interlaced with sexual innuendo in such ads where there is an apparent attempt to blur the lines between chocolate and sex. Oftentimes these advertisements are targeted towards women as a way of “encouraging self indulgence for a food that provides feelings equated to sex and love” (Fahim 7).

It’s quite interesting, or perhaps more than that, it’s rather informative of the power that lies in the hands of media and marketing to perpetuate a notion with little to no basis in fact, as evidenced by numerous studies debunking any real effect of chocolate on libido or as an aphrodisiac (Shamloul 2010, Brent 2018), yet remains at the core—in some way, shape, or form, of chocolate marketing strategy.

In analyzing the way these advertisements have marketed chocolate, we can see the progress of the way society views the female role. In the earlier times, we see how the importance of women in society is closely intertwined with reproduction as well as the simple-minded housewife trope, which was quite clearly reflected in the messaging of chocolate at the time. And, subsequently, as women’s expression of sexuality in media becomes more commonplace, the importance and relevance of chocolate in society comes in large part from overt and subtle references to its purported (yet unsubstantiated) supernatural or aphrodisiacs properties. Specifically, it aims to encourage “ self indulgence for a food that provides feelings equated to sex and love.

All that being said, while this current theme of hypersexuality, desire, and indulgence is unlikely to subside any time soon (especially considering it’s persisted over thousands of years), it will be interesting to see how and if the portrayal of women in ads related to chocolate will change in this new wave of female empowerment as a marketing strategy (e.g. the new Nike and Gillette ads), which still have their issues but show an overall positive progression towards gender equality.

Works-Cited & Sources:

Brent A. Bauer, M.D. “Do Natural Aphrodisiacs Actually Work?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/expert-answers/natural-aphrodisiacs/faq-20058252.

Fahim, Jamal, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing” (2010). Sociology Student Scholarship. http://scholar.oxy.edu/sociology_student/3

French, Michael. “Modernity in British Advertising: Selling Cocoa and Chocolate in the 1930s.” Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 9, no. 4, 2017, pp. 451-466. ProQuest, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1973450713?accountid=11311, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.1108/JHRM-05-2017-0015.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Shamloul, Rany. “Natural Aphrodisiacs.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 39–49., doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01521.x.

Multimedia Sources:

http://www.historyworld.co.uk/retroimage.php?opt=retro&pic=123

http://www.atticpaper.com/proddetail.php?prod=1954-whitmans-chocolates-ad-valentines-day

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/cocoa-kings_the-pioneers-of-switzerland-s–chocolate-revolution-/43592024

https://blog.retroplanet.com/vintage-whitmans-valentines-day-ads/


An Interview with a Chocolate Lover: Issues within the Chocolate Industry Revealed

Curious about people’s relationship with chocolate, I interviewed a young female adult about how her relationship with chocolate has changed from childhood into adulthood. The interviewee has never learned about chocolate, but she alludes to various historical, economical, and social issues within the chocolate industry throughout the interview. Specifically, she raises ethical issues about cacao farming practices, and explicates how business transactions harm chocolate producers. The interviewee is a college-educated individual, and demonstrates significant knowledge about these issues presumably because of her enrollment in a course about the sociology of food. Based on her responses in the interview, it is clear that this course changed her relationship with food and influences her current food decisions. Through the interview, the interviewee illuminates glaring issues within the chocolate industry related to the production of cacao, exploitation of cacao farmers, and chocolate advertising. First, she raises issues that about the production of cacao by demonstrating awareness about the economic difficulties cacao farmers face, and by discussing logistical issues about certifications that attempt to combat those economic issues. Second, in describing her chocolate preferences and perceptions, she alludes to issues regarding chocolate marketing strategies, and demonstrates the immense influence that chocolate advertisements hold over consumer purchasing decisions.

Before evaluating the historical, economic, and social issues within the chocolate industry revealed by the interviewee, it is necessary to explain the similarities between cacao and coffee bean production. The interviewee learned about coffee production in a course at a prestigious university, so this section purposes to provide legitimacy to the issues she raises about cacao production by emphasizing that the coffee and cacao industries experience the same problems, thereby qualifying her arguments about coffee production as applicable to cacao production as well. First, the working and economic conditions of coffee and cacao farmers are almost identical. Most coffee farmers produce beans on small, family-owned farms, and live in poverty.[1] Coffee farmers typically rely on bean sales as their primary source of income, but it is extremely volatile because it responds to any fluctuation in bean market prices and sales.[2] Second, coffee farmers can obtain Fair Trade and Organic Certification. Fair Trade promises the same benefits to coffee farmers as it does to cacao farmers, including minimum price premiums, social development, better labor rights, and long-term trading partnership.[3] Third, a large gap exists between coffee producers’ farming practices and coffee consumers’ purchasing decisions. There are stark differences between farmers that produce specialty coffee, and farmers that produce conventional, non-certified coffee. Demand for specialty coffee is on the rise because consumers, particularly those that identify with the ethical eating, Slow Food Movement, are willing to pay more for certified, eco-friendly coffee.[4] Higher quality coffee beans are sold at a higher price in the market, but most coffee consumers are unaware of the implications of their coffee-purchasing decisions.[5] Lastly, similar to the chocolate industry, a few select big coffee companies – less than 10 – control more than half of the coffee market.[6] These similarities are important to recognize, as the interviewee recalls this knowledge in the interview, and subsequently reveals that the economic and social issues afflicting coffee farmers and production are the same issues that exist in relation to cacao farming and production.

coffee beancacao bean

Image 1: Coffee Bean                                                                             Image 2: Cacao Bean

The interviewee brings attention to the importance of the raw coffee bean product to the existence of the entire coffee industry. Through this observation, she emphasizes the complete disconnect between coffee production and coffee consumption, revealing that the same issue exists within the chocolate industry. The interviewee comments, “without the farmers, you wouldn’t have the product. They’re the ones creating the base product to make coffee. They’re often the most forgotten. That’s like with any food product.”[7] This remark deserves close evaluation, as it perfectly describes the fragmented functioning and separateness of the different sectors of the coffee industry, also applicable to the chocolate industry. With that remark, the interviewee astutely explains that these complex industries rely wholly on the raw product, the bean, and without which, coffee and chocolate might not exist. This comment is interesting because it offers a simplistic vision that connects the necessity of the raw product to the consumer industry miles and miles away. This perception also illuminates how coffee and chocolate consumers are highly unaware of the implications of their purchasing decisions on the economic livelihood of the producers. Pictured in images 1 and 2 are a coffee and cacao bean, respectively (Image 1 and 2). These visuals purpose as a reminder to consumers that the coffee they drink from Starbucks, or Lindt chocolate they eat from their local supermarket, are products that begin with coffee and cacao beans, harvested and cultivated by farmers. Production and consumption are inherently connected, however, farmers are often naïve about the final product and consumers are often uneducated about the raw product process, both of which exacerbate the separateness between different players within the coffee and chocolate systems.

USDA organic labelImage 3: USDA Organic Certification Label

The interviewee discusses logistical issues with the Fair Trade and Organic Certification protocols, revealing that these labels harm rather than benefit cacao farmers and production. Fair Trade, Organic, and Direct Trade certifications share a common goal to compensate cacao farmers that produce their beans in adherence to specific environmental and social standards at a higher price than the conventional market offers.[8] The United States Department of Agriculture divides organic products into three categories, “100% organic,” “organic,” and “made with organic ingredients,” where each category is defined based on strict agricultural practice regulations.[9] Agricultural products that adhere to these standards are labeled with the “USDA Organic” logo, pictured in Image 3 (Image 3). In viewing this image, it is apparent that the USDA Organic label is not informative, as the certification seal does not specify whether the product is made with 100%, 95%, or at least 70% organic ingredients. The lack of information on this label raises questions about the authenticity of these certifications, and how organic certification guidelines are monitored. In probing about her knowledge regarding Organic Certification, the interviewee says “there are requirements…You can still use pesticides, but [the farmers] use “organic” or “natural” pesticides that are “better” for the environment…I know there are loopholes in the organic certification process.”[10] Here, the interviewee identifies the major criticisms of the USDA Organic Certification process in relation to cacao farming and production practices, alluding to claims of product quality issues and loose surveillance of organically certified cacao farmers’ adherence to USDA guidelines.[11] As revealed through her remarks, the vagueness of this label generates confusion among consumers. Furthermore, these observations illuminate the need for tighter institutional regulation of USDA Organic protocols, both for the benefit of consumers – ensuring that cacao farmers are following certification standards, guaranteeing that consumers are purchasing actual organic cacao – and for the benefit of the producers – that they are properly compensated for producing cacao beans using environmentally-friendly farming practices.

The interviewee circles the debate about the effectiveness of Fair Trade certification’s impact on cacao farmers’ economic situation through her advocacy for Fair Trade coffee bean farming and production. Similar to organic certification, Fair Trade certification encourages sustainable farming practices, while also promoting social welfare and establishing long-term trading partnerships.[12] In explaining the benefits of Fair Trade for coffee farmers, the interviewee says, “the farmers work long, laborious hours and they don’t get paid very well unless they are in the Fair Trade system…more money goes to the farmer when it’s a Fair Trade transaction.”[13] Through this comment, the interviewee reveals two similarities between coffee bean and cacao production that are problematic for the farmers. First, she describes the difficult working conditions that coffee bean farmers endure, such as long and physically fatiguing hours, and subsequently suggests that the farmers are underpaid considering their strenuous working conditions. She alludes to a prominent issue that cacao farmers face in that they are not properly compensated for their grueling laborious efforts, and that their contributions to the chocolate industry are severely under-valued. Second, she asserts that Fair Trade certified coffee farmers are more economically stable than non-certified coffee farmers, referencing minimum price premiums and prompt payments promised by Fair Trade to certified farmers. This suggests that consumers perceive Fair Trade as an impactful certification that improves farmers’ economic situation. However, in reality, there is no strong evidence that the Fair Trade system is effective in combatting farmers’ economic crises, particularly that of cacao farmers.[14] This misconception is problematic, as consumers’ might purchase Fair Trade products hoping to improve farmers’ income situation, unbeknownst to the faults of Fair Trade.

The interviewee explicates that some of her food decisions are based on the ethicality of food production practices, but names high prices of Fair Trade and Organic products as a barrier that prevents her from always purchasing certified products. In regards to the cacao industry, attempts to improve the ethicality of cacao farmers’ working conditions by consumer advocacy groups more often than not fail.[15] Chocolate consumers are often uneducated about the complexities of the chocolate industry, making it difficult for consumers to grasp how their purchasing decisions impact the economic and/or social situation of cacao farmers. Therefore, consumers cannot be responsible for initiating change of the exploitative economic and social conditions endured by cacao farmers. Surprisingly, the interviewee demonstrates a deep consciousness about the relationship between production and consumption, explaining that she became a vegetarian because “I don’t like the treatment of farm animals on conventional farms…Also, I don’t like the growth hormones and antibiotics.”[16] This reasoning suggests that she chooses the type of food she consumes based on the ethicality of food production practices. She further explains that she prefers to consume organic food, as “It’s more environmentally friendly.”[17] Again, she adopts an ethical argument to support her preference to consume organic over conventional farm products. However, she subsequently mentions that she does not always purchase certified Organic or Fair Trade products because they are “more expensive.”[18] This confession reveals a common misconception among consumers that certified products are always more expensive, which is false, as Organic and Fair Trade farming practices can actually cost the same or less than conventional farming practices.[19] Through her remarks, it is clear that the interviewee is a conscious consumer, as she chose to become a vegetarian because of inhumane treatment of animals on conventional farms, indicating her care for ethical farming and production practices. However, her perception that Organic, Fair Trade, and Direct Trade products are more expensive than non-certified products alludes to major critiques of certification organizations, commonly accused of corrupt practices and falsely promising cacao farmers fair payment. Through the interviewee’s comments, she illuminates a significant issue that Organic, Fair Trade, and Direct Trade are actually more harmful than beneficial to cacao farmers’ economic and social conditions.

woman eating chocolate     Image 4: Gender in Chocolate Advertisement

Through the interviewee’s description of her chocolate perceptions and preferences, she reveals an issue rarely addressed, that of the immense control chocolate advertisements exercise over consumer choice. Chocolate advertisements commonly portray chocolate as an aphrodisiac, and as a luxurious product, through women’s sexuality.[20] Image 4 exemplifies this theme, as it pictures a woman, seemingly wearing no clothes, holding a piece of chocolate to her lips, with a seductive facial expression (Image 4). The image portrays chocolate as a desirable food through the sexual presentation and nature of the woman. The brightly colored lipstick brings focus to her lips, and accompanied by the sensual facial expression, the ad attempts to associate chocolate with love and romance. Furthermore, the woman is highly manicured, adorned with extravagant accessories, which contributes to the depiction of chocolate as a decadent and highly valuable product. Several times throughout the interview, the interviewee references chocolate as a “luxurious item.”[21] This association of chocolate with luxury precisely demonstrates the strong influence of chocolate advertisements, such as image 4, on consumers’ perceptions of chocolate. When prompted to reflect about chocolate advertisements, the interviewee pauses and appears puzzled, admitting a moment later that she only notices chocolate ads around Valentine’s Day.[22] Again, this emphasizes the effectiveness of chocolate marketing strategies to portray the product as an aphrodisiac, as consumers evidently associate chocolate with romance and love. The combination of a presumably seduced woman and a chocolate product, exampled in Image 4, contribute to this representation of chocolate as desirable. Most importantly, the interviewee illuminates that consumers are highly unaware of two issues related to chocolate marketing. First, the strong influence chocolate ads possess in forming their perceptions of chocolate, and second, the exploitation of female sexuality to deliver this specific representation of chocolate products. Based on the interviewee’s susceptibility to the impact of chocolate advertisements on her perceptions, and her unawareness of gender exploitation that litters these ads, it suggests that the chocolate industry should be taking action to enforce regulations that will reduce the influence of chocolate marketing on consumer perceptions and regulate chocolate marketing content.

Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar     Image 5: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Product

The interviewee’s description of her chocolate preferences further demonstrates consumer susceptibility to the influences of chocolate advertisements. The interviewee reveals she favors dark chocolate, offering “I buy it at Trader Joe’s…I like the pure flavor of their products.”[23] First, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store that advertises the sale of organic, natural, fresh food at low prices. Second, recall that the interviewee prefers organic food, but high prices prevent her from purchasing organic products. Keeping these two pieces of information in mind, the interviewee’s comment suggests that she purchases chocolate at Trader Joe’s because it is both organic and affordable. In addition to these conscious reasons, the packaging of the chocolate may also contribute to the interviewee’s decision to purchase dark chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s, though she is unconscious of this influence. Image 5 exemplifies a dark chocolate bar product sold at Trader Joe’s, one that the interviewee might encounter (Image 5). This package exercises marketing strategies to influence consumer choice by emphasizing a high cacao content of “61%,” indicative of pure chocolate. Additionally, printing “Imported from Belgium” carries connotations associated with Europe, such as fantasy and romance. Lastly, the package pictures a crown, presumably representative of chocolate’s historical association with royalty in Europe. This suggests to the consumer that the chocolate is luxurious and highly valuably, and implies that the chocolate will taste rich and pure. All of these elements on the package impact the consumer’s decision to purchase that product by manipulating her perceptions, thereby prompting the consumer to imagine the chocolate will taste special over other chocolate products. Similar to an issue already discussed, the interviewee reveals that consumers are naïve to chocolate marketing strategies, and make unconscious purchasing decisions based on the effectiveness of chocolate ads and their ability to influence consumers’ perceptions and taste preferences of chocolate.

The interviewee reveals major historical, economic, and social issues that persist within the chocolate industry through her comments about coffee production, and in describing her chocolate perceptions and taste preferences. Historical issues, such as the under-recognized efforts of cacao farmers and their contributions that permit the existence of the chocolate industry – i.e. they provide the raw product to make chocolate – are evidently issues that exist within the coffee industry as well. Economic issues, such as volatile income and impoverished livelihoods, partially the fault of certification organizations like Organic and Fair Trade, are also issues within both the cacao and coffee industries. Lastly, social issues related to the use of sexualized images of women to control consumers’ perceptions and taste preferences of chocolate are seemingly unnoticed by consumers. This is problematic in that consumers are unaware that these ads contribute to the proliferation of stereotypical gender roles, and in that consumers are also unaware that they possess little agency in their chocolate purchasing decisions.
[1] Christopher Bacon, “Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Can Fair Trade, Organic, and Specialty Coffees Reduce Small-scale Farmer Vulnerability in Northern Nicaragua?,” World Development 33 (2005): 497-511.
[2] Joni Valkila, “Fair Trade Organic Coffee Production in Nicaragua – Sustainable Development or a Poverty Trap,” Ecological Economics 68 (2009): 3018-3025.
[3] Valkila, “Fair Trade organic coffee.”
[4] Julie Guthman, “Fast Food/Organic Food: Reflexive Tastes and the Making of “Yuppie Chow,” in Food and Culture, ed. by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik (New York: Routledge, 2013), 496-509.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Bacon, “Confronting the Coffee Crisis.”
[7] Anonymous, interview by Ashlee Korsberg, April 24, 2017.
[8] Carla Martin, “Alternative trade and virtuous/localization/globalization” (lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, April 5, 2017).
[9] “USDA Organic Labeling Regulations,” USDA, accessed April 30, 2017, https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=c4e0df8f46a4f4b6f56d80be31f95ed3&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.4&idno=7.
[10] Anonymous.
[11] Martin, “Alternative trade.”
[12] Ibid.
[13] Anonymous.
[14] Ndongo Samba Sylla, “On the Inequalities of the International Trade System” and “The Fair Trade Universe,” in The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich, translated by David Clement Leye (London: Pluto Press, 2014).
[15] Carla Martin, “Modern day slavery” (lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March 22, 2017).
[16] Anonymous.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Martin, “Alternative Trade.”
[20] Emma Robertson, “A deep physical reason’: gender, race and the nation in chocolate consumption,” in Chocolate, women and empire: A social and cultural history (Oxford: Manchester University Press, 2009), 18-63.
[21] Anonymous
[22] Anonymous.
[23] Anonymous.

References

Anonymous. Interview by Ashlee Korsberg, April 24, 2017.

Bacon, Christopher. “Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Can Fair Trade, Organic, and Specialty Coffees Reduce Small-scale Farmer Vulnerability in Northern Nicaragua?.” World Development 33 (2005): 497-511.

Guthman, Julie. “Fast Food/Organic Food: Reflexive Tastes and the Making of “Yuppie Chow.” In Food and Culture, edited by Carole Counihan, and Penny Van Esterik, 496-509, New York: Routledge, 2013.

Martin, Carla. “Alternative trade and virtuous/localization/globalization.” Lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, April 5, 2017.

Martin, Carla. “Modern day slavery.” Lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March 22, 2017.

Martin, Carla. “Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March 29, 2017.

Robertson, Emma. “A deep physical reason’: gender, race and the nation in chocolate consumption.” In Chocolate, women and empire: A social and cultural history, 18-63, Oxford: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Sylla, Ndongo Samba. “On the Inequalities of the International Trade System” and “The Fair Trade Universe.” In The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich, translated by David Clement Leye, London: Pluto Press, 2014.

U.S. Government Publishing Office. “USDA Organic Labeling Regulations.” Accessed April 30, 2017. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=c4e0df8f46a4f4b6f56d80be31f95ed3&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.4&idno=7.

Valkila, Joni. “Fair Trade Organic Coffee Production in Nicaragua – Sustainable Development or a Poverty Trap.” Ecological Economics 68 (2009): 3018-3025.

Image sources

Image 1: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coffee_Beans_Photographed_in_Macro.jpg

Image 2: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/cocoa/

Image 3: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USDA_organic_seal.svg

Image 4: https://www.flickr.com/photos/orofacial/8219609037

Image 5: https://chocolateihaveknown.wordpress.com/category/acquired/trader-joes/

 

 

Eye Candy: Gender and Sexuality in M&Ms Advertisements

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is known for featuring beautiful, scantily clad women draped across its cover. But do you know about the woman who was featured on the back cover for six years in a row, from 2009-2014? If you guessed a seductively posed green M&M, you’re right!

(Listen to Green talk about her experience “modeling” for the back covers here.)

When Mars Inc. decided to create characters for the different colored M&Ms featured in their ads they made the bold choice to feature four male personalities and one female. Each M&M is named after their color, and their personalities are as follows: Red is a self-confident leader, Yellow is an oblivious goofball, Orange is neurotic, Blue is cool and smooth, and Green (the female M&M) is a purring seductress (“Characters”). This blatantly sexist gender imbalance was partly corrected in 2012 when Mars Inc. launched the character Ms. Brown, a savvy businesswoman (Newcomb), but most of Green’s Sports Illustrated back covers were published before Ms. Brown was created, so I’m not going to take her character into account when assessing the female image M&Ms was promoting in these advertisements.

So, without further ado, here are the covers:

green mm 2009
2009

green mm 2010
2010

green mm 2011 real
2011

green mm 2012 (2)
2012

green mm 2013
2013

green mm 2014
2014

 

Six pictures of a piece of chocolate posed like a bikini model, that’s a lot to take in! We can begin to process what is happening here by thinking about the history of gender and sexuality in chocolate advertising.

There are a few groups chocolate ads have historically targeted. 1) The housewife looking to provide wholesome food for her family 2) Men looking to win over a woman in a heterosexual romance and 3) a woman looking to indulge a guilty pleasure (Robertson 22-35). These pictures of Green fit into categories 2 and 3. Because the chocolate here has come to life as a woman, which isn’t typical in chocolate ads, the implicit message is a little less straightforward than it usually is. Green sits as the embodiment of the stereotypical female obsession with chocolate. But, with her steady gaze and placement on the back of a magazine geared towards men, she also exists as a male-directed suggestion that M&Ms will improve your chances of seducing a woman.

I tried to create an ad that would avoid falling into these stereotypical categorizations. The most egregious problem I have with these covers is that they play into a trend in chocolate advertising of women being seduced by the treat. (This trend was pointed out by Professor Carla Martin in a funny blog post you can reach if you click right here.) These ads make the statement that an M&M without its shell is nude, and that the chocolate underneath is a sensual temptation. In these M&M ads this seduction is being performed more overtly than in most advertisements. Chocolate, here, is not a passive temptation. These back covers show Green stripping down to her chocolate inner while making eye contact with the camera, aware that the viewer finds her chocolate alluring. The unabashed way Mars Inc. in these ads correlates chocolate with sex appeal, and the way they put the burden of sexual appeal on their female character is alarming.

So the ad I created seeks to change the way the viewer perceives the character Green, while being an effective and persuasive advertisement that falls into the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit theme.2016-04-08 19.06.42 (1)

  1. I kept Green recognizably female. I want to show that representations of gender can be made effectively without stepping into a sexist mode of portrayal. Green gets to keep her high heel boots (despite their impracticality as beach shoes), and I gave her a hot pink beach towel to relax on. I want to show that women can be traditionally feminine without their gender performance relating to their sexual availability.
  2. I used a classic M&Ms advertising phrase “Melts in in your mouth, not in your hand” to tie the product into the Sports Illustrated beach theme. Green has a handful of M&Ms and is giving a thumbs up to show that they are holding up under the hot sun. She is selling the product here, not a sensual experience.

 

Works Cited

“Characters.” M&M’S® Official Website | Home. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

Newcomb, Tim. “M&Ms to Introduce New Character, ‘Ms. Brown,’ at Super Bowl | TIME.com.” Time. 18 Jan. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.

Images from “Ms. Green Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Appearances.” M&M’s U.S.A. Facebook Page. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

Lady Godiva, Naked

 

empowerment and objectification

For ninety years, Godiva Chocolatier has struggled to strike a balance between empowering women and objectifying them. Godiva was named after the legendary Lady Godiva, whose story, though set just after the turn of the 11th century, exemplifies the tension between female empowerment and objectification that we see in advertising in 2016.

Godiva Chocolatier Logo
[1] Even today, the image of Lady Godiva – eternally naked – appears on every box of Godiva chocolate.
Lady Godiva is generally remembered far better for her titillating nudity than for the circumstances that preceded her naked horseback ride. As the story goes, she argued with her husband (Lord Godiva, presumably) over his tax policy, which was hurting the people in their village. He agreed to change his policies if she rode naked through the village on horseback (French). According to the story, she took him at his word and rode naked through the town, and he changed his tax policy, and in theory everyone lived happily ever after (French).

Whether the story is true or not, it poses a difficult question regarding objectification. Lady Godiva took a bold action to stand up for the people of her village, but she was coerced into it by a male partner who did not take her opinions seriously. She chose her nudity, and yet it was not her choice at all. Is she an example of a woman taking her sexuality into her own hands, and using it to empower herself, or an example of a woman forced to expose herself as the lesser of two evils?

The question of female agency in sexualized media can be difficult to disentangle. Certainly female sexuality – and indeed nudity – in and of itself is not a problem. The problem arises when women are sexualized by others, for the benefit of others, and to the discomfort or even harm of the woman.

godiva ads, past and present

Godiva has historically produced advertisements that align with stereotypes, particularly the trope of the woman who is aroused by chocolate (Martin). Their recent DIVA advertising campaign features a series of women with dark eye makeup and lidded eyes, tousled hair, and clothing that appears to be slipping off. In the image below, the placement of the woman’s hands draw attention to her hair and her low neckline, and her horizontal position implies an arousal of something more than taste.

 

GoDIVA Joie de Diva
[2] The ‘woman aroused by chocolate’ appears frequently in chocolate advertising.
 

In an interview with AdWeek to herald Godiva’s 90th anniversary, head of marketing Michelle Chin offered that Godiva is looking to shift their target demographic to reach a younger consumer. “For us, what’s most important is pushing the emotional connection that consumers have with the brand,” Chin said. “Godiva means a lot of different things to people, but it really comes down to one thing—sparking joy and delight in consumers (Nudd)”. If their current marketing strategy can be successful at sparking joy and delight in that younger target demographic, they may be able to make this shift quite easily. If their advertisements are missing the mark, though, there may be more work for Godiva to do.

finally rewarded: a close read

The ad below is a still image of a woman in her late twenties or early thirties, leaning on a countertop, lifting a Godiva truffle from a gold box on the counter to her mouth. Behind her, out of focus, several men and at least one woman are standing or sitting, some drinking from glasses, with platters of food between them. This image does not immediately appear to be overly sexual; the woman’s shirt is high-necked, and she is leaning over the counter in a realistic, non-exhibitory pose. A gold panel at the right side of the image serves multiple functions: it reminds the viewer of the gold color of Godiva’s signature chocolate boxes, it generates an association between the ad and a marker of luxury, and it creates a space for text to be easily superimposed on the image.

0000_00000_0031554A
[3] The advertisement in question.
Yet several aspects of her physical appearance match onto features that stereotypically mark a woman as a sex object: her lips are slightly parted; her eyes are closed, or at least heavily lidded; her hair is tousled and shiny; her skin looks smooth and golden. Her shirt folds in a way that draws attention to her chest and collarbones. In the language of print advertising, her body language is code for arousal – and in this ad, she is clearly being aroused by the chocolate. But this is fairly typical of chocolate ads.

A more interesting feature of her pose is her privacy from the rest of the party. The text accompanying the image indicates that she was the one to plan the party, yet she has withdrawn from it to eat this chocolate. She appears to be celebrating her successful party with a private reward: she is not being celebrated by anyone else, including and especially her male guests, blurry and silent at the back of the frame. The ad also doesn’t focus on any pleasure stemming from her successful party or from a feeling that the work she put into it was worthwhile. Her only pleasure comes from the chocolate.

The chocolate, then, is clearly a private pleasure. Women are frequently depicted in media eating chocolate “in various states of sensual arousal” and frequently alone, sneaking the chocolate “as a guilty pleasure or consolation prize” (Martin). Two things complicate this trope. First, the comparison of chocolate-eating pleasure to sexual orgasmic pleasure leaves the woman merely the object of some pleasuring force (chocolate). If the experience of eating chocolate is sensually arousing, then watching the woman in the advertisement eat chocolate is a form of accepted voyeurism, with all the problematic implications that brings.

Second, the concept of food being used in secret reward behavior is deeply connected to troubled eating patterns. Public schools have been trying to ban food as an in-school reward for good behavior for years; several studies have shown that teaching people that food is a reward means they crave it far more, and are at much higher risk for obesity (Healy). Women, in particular, are taught to conceal their eating habits from a young age, or told that men find it unattractive when women eat in public. The instinct to hide food and snacking behaviors, especially on unhealthy foods – like chocolate – can be an early indicator of eating disorders (Rainey). Encouraging the women who see this ad to mimic that behavior is likely to go poorly.

redesigning for a new demographic

Godiva’s head of marketing wants the main associations consumers make with Godiva to be joy and delight. The ad above primarily transmits a message of pleasure, and mostly sexual pleasure. To facilitate a shift toward less-sexual joy, and to broaden the ad campaign’s appeal to a wider audience, a redesign of the above print ad uses nearly the same framing and phrasing but incorporates a different woman and a different scene.

 

Finally Rewarded
A redesigned ad for Godiva’s new campaign.

In the redesigned ad, the phrase “Weeks AND WEEKS of planning” refers not to planning a party, but to Nicola Adams’ training and preparation for the 2012 London Olympics competition in boxing. Her preparation was presumably physically and emotionally taxing, and she is being rewarded with both a gold medal and a Godiva chocolate bar. This resolves several problematic aspects of the original ad.

Nicola is being rewarded not only with chocolate, but also with a gold medal. She is being celebrated for her success and performance, and her joy appears to stem from her abilities as well as from her chocolate-bar. The bright lights on her, compared to the dark background, also indicate that she is being lit or perhaps even photographed in front of a crowd of on-lookers. The public nature of the ad removes the problematic food-hiding behavior from the first ad.

From the Olympic medal around her neck, we are able to infer that she is being celebrated for her physical prowess. The gold stripe at the right side of the image is now more strongly associated with the gold medal – a symbol of overwhelming ability and success – than it is with luxury or classism.

Finally, the ad does not cast Nicola as a sex object. Her smile reaches her eyes; her hair is up, perhaps for comfort or ease of movement or perhaps just because she likes to wear it that way; she is wearing athletic clothing, and little or no makeup to accentuate her lips or darken her eyes.

suggestions for godiva

This redesigned advertisement is far from a solution to the stereotyped and sexualized images prevalent in chocolate advertisements and in all media today. By revising ad campaigns to erase stereotypes of sexism and classism and mental health (and we haven’t even discussed the racial undertones prevalent in chocolate imagery), Godiva can take a step toward reaching their target demographic with a message of delight and of joy.

works cited

French, Katherine. 1992. “The legend of Lady Godiva and the image of the female body.” Journal of Medieval History 18 (1): 3-19.

Healy, Melissa. 2014. “When food’s the reward, obese women’s judgment fails them.” Los Angeles Times, 17 July 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Martin, Carla D. “Women Alone with Chocolate in TV Commercials.” Bittersweet Notes. WordPress, 7 June 2012. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Nudd, Tim. 2016. “At 90, Godiva Proudly Looks Back as It Charts a Path Forward: The Belgian chocolatier has a lauded history but needs to court younger buyers.” AdWeek. 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Puhl, R.M. and Schwartz, M.B. 2003. “If you are good you can have a cookie: How memories of childhood food rules link to adult eating behaviors.” Eating Behaviors 4 (3): 283-93.

Rainey, Sarah. 2015. “Ever hidden food, or secretly disposed of wrappers? Then you need to read this.” The Telegraph. 14 Jan 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

 

images

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godiva_Chocolatier#/media/File:Godiva_Chocolatier_Logo.svg

[2] https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/a0be6-govida_singer_2011_01.jpg

[3] http://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/31554/n-a/godiva-chocolatier

images used for redesigned ad

[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/boxing/olympics-2012-nicola-adams-wins-1244176

[5] https://community.imgur.com/t/favorite-chocolate-bars/8015

How Women Are Portrayed in Chocolate Advertising

 

 

Early Advertisements

Chocolate companies used women to sell their products from the beginning. Through the years women in advertising became more and more sexualized. Chocolate advertising does not stick to satisfy hunger appetites, but it “arouses appetites of a social nature by promising to satisfy viewers’ deep-seated desires for sexual fulfillment and higher class status” (Fahim, 2). In other words, the advertisements are trying to sell it by saying that by eating the chocolate, one should feel that they have been sexual fulfilled and be in a higher class status. The beginning advertisements of chocolate showed women, but not in a very sexualized manner. The two women shown above are average looking women dressed in day-to-day clothing. The advertisement is says “for her…”, but it is not objectifying the women sexually. As AdWomen sums it up, “Women love chocolate, chocolate loves advertising and advertising loves women. It is a chain like all chains of love”.  Consumers “love feelings and chocolate brings sensations”, it is because of this that chocolate companies focus on women to show those loving feelings and the sensations that accompany eating chocolate (AdWomen). Chocolate advertisements use women to show that eating their chocolate can fulfill sexual desires and show the high class value that comes along with their specific brands of chocolate.

chocolate-dark-chocolate-small-51123.jpg

Advertising Today

In today’s advertising, women are very sexualized when it comes to chocolate especially. The women in this advertisement is dressed in very nice bedroom clothing and has a piece of chocolate placed just above her bust. She is most likely lying on a bed in a bedroom and is posing very seductively. On the advertisement is says, “You can see it in her eyes the joie de Godiva”. She is staring at the viewer by making direct eye contact. The customer can feel beautiful and sexy by eating Godiva chocolate. It plays on the emotions of fulfillment and feeling higher up by eating Godiva chocolate. This is just one image of a set of the “Go Diva” campaign that Godiva launched. All of the ads feature women in very sexualized manners showing their love for Godiva chocolate. Godiva “promotes a more sophisticated chocolate and use powerful imagery to convince consumers that they may attain an unparalleled experience of high-class luxury” (Fahin, 3). Godiva is trying to prove that it is the essence of luxury and power with these sexualized advertisements featuring women. This representation of women in chocolate advertising is the normal standard because chocolate companies must sell the sexualized women for their brands.

MyAd.jpg

My Advertising With Men

In the advertisement I made, it shows a man with chocolate all around his mouth and says, “You can see ti all on his face Godiva”. This man is eating his chocolate and making a mess out of it. He is wearing a plain t-shirt and a neutral background is behind him. This is not the typical ad you would see for chocolate. It is different in the largest extent because he is a male, but there is nothing sexualized about him in the ad. He is your average guy enjoying eating chocolate. This goes against what “sells” in advertising. The story behind this advertisement is that all guys can enjoy their chocolate as messy as they like it. They do not have to look like a model and scream high-class luxury. There are advertisements portraying men in chocolate, but they are usually shirtless and look like perfect models. This representation of a man enjoying chocolate is very far from the standard for chocolate companies. Though, many people could see this ad and want to enjoy chocolate as much as this guy is, companies do not see this as the ideal for selling their chocolate brands.

Sources

Fahim, Jamal. “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing.” Occidental College, 2010. Web.
MailOnline, Lucy Waterlow for. “Who Were the Aero Women? Chocolate Brand Searches for Mysterious Stars of Vintage Adverts.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 11 Oct. 2013. Web.
“Marketing and Advertising Chocolate Group.” » Godiva Appeals to Women with “Diva” Campaign. N.p., 3 Mar. 2014. Web.
“Reloader.” How To Tell What a Man Will Be Like in Bed by the Way He Eats ~. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Women, Chocolate and Advertising | AdWomen.” AdWomen. N.p., n.d. Web.

 

The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate

Mars’ global confectionery sales was a whopping $18.4 billion USD in 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), more than doubling Hershey’s sales of the same year.[1] An impressive feat given that Mars is still family owned, the 3rd richest family in America, in fact.[2] To maintain its global dominance, the company heavily invests in advertisement. In the 3 years leading up to 2013, Mars spent an estimated $7.28 billion worldwide, using the familiar trope of linking their products to Hollywood celebrities.[3] For its 2016 Snickers campaign, aired during the 50th edition of the NFL Super Bowl, the company once again featured a host of iconic figures, this time including Willem Dafoe and Marilyn Monroe. See their Snicker ad below:


(Source: YouTube)[4]

This is not, by any means, Mars’ first attempt at associating its products with familiar faces. For its 2013 UK Galaxy campaign, the chocolate giant contracted with the world’s best, AMV BBDO (ad agency) and Framestore (special effects), bringing Audrey Hepburn “back to life” to promote their products in the UK.

(Source: YouTube)[5]

But who are the true faces behind chocolate? Who are the real celebrities responsible for providing the world with one of its most favorite treat? Albeit Mars’ promise of taking “very seriously” the marketing of their brand, “providing you and your family with suitable and transparent information about [their] products,” they have, in my eyes, grossly misrepresented the true heroes behind chocolate.[6] May I present, as an alternative to Mars’, my own original ad below, depicting some of “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.”


(Source: Prezi.com)[7]

Unlike those chosen by Mars in its Snicker ad, or like those chosen by many of the other chocolate companies for their campaigns, the stars in my counter ad portray a range of contrasting complexions, are not primarily Caucasian, and hail from a vastly different socioeconomic stratum.

How does Mars, in 2016, in good conscience, create a Super Bowl commercial, primarily directed to an American audience, without featuring a single person of color, given that “African-Americans… currently comprise 67.3% of the league’s players,” according to sports and entertainment attorney Jaia Thomas.[8] There is much irony to Mars’ homogeneous selection of ethnicity, especially given that the Global South, who are primarily non-Caucasian, grows 100% of the world’s cacao. People of color were therefore intentionally included in my ad to appropriately and responsibly represent the many hues and races who are at the core of the chocolate supply chain, Mars’ included.

Mars attempts to associate their product with fame, affluence, and eroticism, using the iconic imagery of one of Hollywood’s most memorable senses. Yet it is Willem Dafoe, another iconic celebrity, who is in the famous white dress standing over the subway grate. It’s only after his cranky ranting that he takes a bite of the Snickers bar and once again becomes Marilyn Monroe. It is an obvious tongue-in-cheek attempt by the company to hearken back to the “good ole days.” The quintessential cantankerous, white, male director refers to the only woman on the set as “sweetheart.” Dafoe takes a bite of the bar and is transformed back to the beauty of the “true woman” that Monroe represents: doe-eyed, coquettish, sensuous and vacuous. The ad portrays a woman who is only likable if she eats chocolate, but unsightly and manly when she complains. Mars unfortunately falls into the sexist, racist, and classist trappings of so many other marketing schemes.

My ad was created to hopefully push back on these shortcomings. It was created to heighten public awareness of some of the true faces behind cacao production and its supply chain, depicting the beautiful and vibrant colors of not only the pod themselves, but also the farmers that come from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. In contrast to the Mars ad, the women in my ad are not monomorphic, they bear a range of shapes and sizes. The women are hardworking, people of the earth, not affected by over-grooming, and are comprised of various ages. My intention was to portray a truer depiction of the women who are intrinsically involved in the world’s chocolate making.

I also wish to illustrate the wealth disparity between cacao growers and Mars. And furthermore, hope to underscore the vast socioeconomic disconnect between these rich chocolate companies and their marketing strategies versus the earnings of cacao growers. In 2014, the chocolate industry grew to a record high of $100 billion, growing by $20 billion in a single year, according to the European Campaign for Fair Chocolate.[9] While cacao growers, on the other hand, earned less than they once did in the 1980s, currently at $1.25/day, a meager six cents on the dollar from the finish product.[10] In other words, these massive chocolate companies, in particular Mars, have profited greatly these past decades, while the earnings of millions of impoverished men, women and children have diminished.

nigeria-cocoawomen-ous_-1220x763
Most cacao growers earn less than $1.25 USD per day. This Nigerian woman, depicted here, is part of Oxfam’s program, “Behind the Brands” campaign in order to support women cocoa farmers in Africa. (Source: Oxfam America)[11]

Addressing such issues as sexism, racism and classism is complex. It calls for a rigorous and courageous examination of the systemic social reproduction of skewed ideals and misrepresentations of others. These issues involve policy changes from all levels of society, including the smallest jurisdiction of cacao shareholders at the local level, all the way up to the national level, and supported by international accords to guide good practices at every stage of the final product, explains chocolate scholar Dr. Carla Martin.[12] And that includes marketing. Mars does not bare the full onus of bringing about that change. We must all play our part, growers, manufacturers, consumers and governments alike. Nonetheless, because of Mars’ global position, the company must bare its share of responsibilities, and must strive to become a proactive player in effecting change. And that can first begin with a rethinking of their marketing campaigns, to communicate a message that is gender empowering, positive and fair, a message to affect both consumers and competitors alike.

Footnotes:
[1] “The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?,” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016, http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

[2] “Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families,” Business News, Forbes, accessed April 8, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

[3] “Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014,” Statista, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

[4] SnickersBrand, SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

[5] Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

[6] “Snickers®,” Snickers, 2016, https://www.snickers.com/.

[7] Edward Enriquez, “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate,” Prezi, April 7, 2016, https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

[8] Jaia Thomas, “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL,” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014, http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

[9] “Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers,” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate, accessed April 8, 2016, http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Frank Mechielsen, “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers,” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014, http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

[12] Carla D Martin, “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor” (Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016). See also her blog, Bittersweet Notes, to learn more about chocolate, culture, and the politics of food.

Work Cited

Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

“Bittersweet Notes.” Open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. Bittersweet Notes | Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, 2016. http://bittersweetnotes.com/.

“Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers.” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

Enriquez, Edward. “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.” Prezi, April 7, 2016. https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

“Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families.” Business News. Forbes. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

“Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014.” Statista, 2016. http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor.” presented at the Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016.

Mechielsen, Frank. “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers.” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014. http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

“Snickers®.” Snickers, 2016. https://www.snickers.com/.

SnickersBrand. SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

“The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016. http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

Thomas, Jaia. “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL.” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014. http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

From “Melt In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand” to the Sexy, Sophisticated Ms. Brown: Seven Decades of M&M Progress In Advertising Gender Representation

M&M’s, the iconic candy-coated chocolate discs, were created by Forrest Mars, the son of the Mars Company founder, and appeared in shops in 1941. The market for M&M’s, along with that of the rest of the chocolate industry, has shifted drastically over the past seven-and-a-half decades, going from a candy bought in quantity for U.S. troops serving throughout Europe in World War II(due to it’s heat resistant shell and portability), to the top selling non-military consumer candy in the U.S., raking in over $673 million dollars a year (“The Wartime Origins Of The M&M – Hungry History”, “America’s 25 Favorite Candies: M&Ms”).

With the changes to the U.S. chocolate consumer base, the advertising used to promote products such as M&M’s adapted to reflect the times and new consumers; however progress towards accurately portraying women in these ads has been slow.While still being consumed by the  U.S. armed forces, M&M’s today are primarily consumed by women, most of whom hold college degrees, with many raising children while earning upwards of $60,000 dollars a year (Allred et al). Accordingly, over the 75 years of M&M’s existence, the Mars Company transitioned from their impersonal “Melt in your mouth, not in your hand” slogan, to using M&M cartoon-like characters with unique, quirky personalities which appeal to women, to promote their products (Allred et al).

In 2012, enter Ms. Brown, the smart, glasses-wearing, witty, sophisticated, and sexy M&M, on a date with a striking young man in a romantic and quaint cafe that looks like it could be on the French Riviera. The conversation turns from the man calling Ms. Brown delicious (or if we translated the candy speech, “beautiful”), to Ms. Brown quipping that he loves only her milk chocolate body, and not her brain. After deliberating for a moment, Ms. Brown responds with “Gosh, you’re handsome”. I posit that this exchange, and the greater Ms. Brown personality represents a balancing act on the part of the Mars Company between the historical sensuality associated with chocolate and cacao, and the push to more-accurately portray women as they want to see themselves in marketing materials.

In order to understand the importance and purpose of sensuality in chocolate ads, we need to back up to 1995 when Mars introduced their first female M&M character: A green-colored, high-heeled boot wearing, shallow and flirty personality known as Ms. Green. One might assume, on first glance at the sexualized portrayal of Ms. Green, that the advertisements were meant to attract male consumers; however it is equally, if not more, likely that they were targeting women. First, the aphrodisiacal effects of cacao, as well as the substance’s precolonial use in fertility rites, and the colonial adoption of cacao as a romantic food, created an air of novelty and seductiveness surrounding chocolate and cacao (Woloson). Second, research shows that men, but even more-so women, often visualize or “dream” the outcomes of eating the foods portrayed in ads, and are then more likely to purchase the product (e.g., a person may view the Ms. Brown ad and come to desire the charming man and romantic cafe, and then associate the eating of M&M’s with that visualization) (Reeves, 27).

Ms. Green was the female trail-blazer among the M&M characters, and while it could be argued that the personality should have been far more nuanced from the start, it sold M&M’s. Seventeen years later Ms. Brown appeared as the overachieving M&M operations manager, and helped to diversify the M&M line and better represent consumers. Nearly half a decade later, it’s time again for a new female M&M personality: One that doesn’t need to overachieve to prove a point. One that embraces the sensuality and elegance of Ms. Green, the wittiness of Ms. Brown, and the strength to resist temptation in the face of objectification (i.e., “Gosh, you’re handsome”, replaced with “You can love both body and brain, or not at all). Introducing the new Ms. Purple:

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Works Cited:

  • Allred, Alana et al. M&M’s Brand Case Study Update. 1st ed.
  • Woloson, Wendy A. Refined Tastes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. Print.
  • ”The Wartime Origins Of The M&M – Hungry History”. HISTORY.com. N.p., 2014. Web.
  • ”America’s 25 Favorite Candies: M&Ms – Bloomberg”. Bloomberg.com. N.p., 2016. Web.
  • Reeves, Kira-Lynn, Brennen, Bonnie, Garner, Ana, and Turner, Lynn. Manna from the Glossy Pulpit: Food Advertising in Women’s Magazines (2012): ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Web.

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Women, Sexuality, and Body Image in Chocolate Advertising

It is difficult to tell whether advertising evolves in response to changing consumer preferences or if the advertisements themselves shape new preferences.  Yet, it is undeniable that advertisements for many products, chocolate being a prime example, have become more nuanced in how they entice consumers and reflect the norms that pervade our society.   The days of Rowntree’s ‘Special Mothers Campaign’ to blatantly target insecure mothers are past (Robertson, 21) but there is no shortage of television commercials that show distressed children being pacified by “loving” mothers with chocolate.  For this post, I will analyze a Godiva advertisement and compare it to one generated by my group in order to analyze the role of gender, body image and sex appeal in advertising.  I argue that our advertisement which strips away the refinement in the Godiva still and also uses a scruffy male rather than a female model reveals inherent associations we make between chocolate, gender, sexuality, perception of beauty, and body.

Blog 3 Godiva ladyThe Godiva advertisement use both bold and subtle persuasion techniques to appeal to women in the advertisement pictured.  The most striking component of the advertisement is the woman pictured: she embodies the modern perception of beauty with sparkling blue eyes, shapely features, slim face, and full lips.  The woman herself is enough to catch the
attention of any casual passerby, both male and female.  The slogan is also catchy: “Every Woman is One Part Godiva,” and it indicates that the advertisement is intended to appeal to women by associating body with Godiva chocolate.  In an age when body insecurity is pervasive among many young women, this slogan encapsulates the desires of much of the ad’s audience.  Yet, there is much more subtlety that speaks to larger advertising trends in the chocolate industry.  For example, the color and lighting of the advertisement is dark and rich, giving the still a sensual feel that reflects Godiva’s desire to connect their chocolate to female sexuality.  This hyper-sexuality is evident in the pose the model pictured displays: her eyes seem slightly hooded; her fingers are curled leisurely; and her mouth is ajar enough to take a nibble of the chocolate but not wide enough to convey any effort.  This advertisement clearly associates the “ideal” woman with a shallow perception of beauty and sexual response in commonplace acts.

Slide1Our advertisement was designed to contrast the one created by Godiva in multiple ways, primarily through the type of model and the slogan.  The model pictured is an average-looking male with unkempt facial hair and a plain blue shirt.  Yet, the fact that he is male is not the only difference, as evidence by the Dove ad pictured below; it is the blatant sexualization of chocolate advertisements that is clearly missing from our ad.  The slogan is identical to the actual Godiva slogan but replaces “Woman” with “Man.”  Through these two perversions, our advertisement is radically different from the original.  The overt sexual component is almost entirely diminished, and it is almost comical to insinuate that men associate body image and chocolate.  Even the subtleties revealed in the Godiva image are different: the background color is a bright blue, indicating a playful, rather than sultry, mood, and the man is gripping a massive chocolate bar like a sandwich rather than with the sensual delicacy of the woman in the other advertisement.

The juxtaposition of these two advertisements exposes trends in advertising and consumer preferences that pervade modern society.  The Godiva advertisement targets women, uses overt sexuality, and associates the product with body image.  Just as Divine Chocolate presents farmers as “cosmopolitan consumers of luxury goods” (Leissle, 121), the Godiva advertisement impresses upon its audience a sense of desire that is in direct contradiction to reality.  The advertisement that we created represents the antithesis and reveals the biases of consumers.  Our ad with its scruffy model, bright background, and almost goofy targeting of men bucks the socio-historical trend of chocolate advertising that hyper-sexualizes and targets women.

 

References

http://files.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_950/9500755/file/dove-chocolate-dove-chocolate-small-50065.jpg

http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/happy-young-man-eating-chocolate-11629814.jpg

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Robertson, E. (2009): Chocolate, women, and empire.  Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

A Woman’s Worth? The Needless Exploitation of Women in Chocolate Ads

A significant theme permeating chocolate advertising, along with topics like race, class, and the overall physical desirability of women, is female sexuality. For decades, companies have continued to use oppressive depictions of women in ads, representing them as shallow and painting them as, “becoming irrational, narcissistic, or excessively aroused due to chocolate” (Martin). It’s unfortunate that advertising tends toward these assumptions of how women want to be – sexy, attractive, well-off – and has not yet evolved to appeal to other universally attractive qualities, like basking in the fulfillment of a personal or professional success.

This ad was a product of Godiva’s 2009 advertising campaign, ‘The Golden Moment.’ An attractive woman leans on a bed in a ‘little black dress’ or sexy negligee, the curvaceous neckline reminiscent of the curves of a woman’s body. Her hair is tousled, an allusion to the foreplay she may have just experienced. Her lips are slightly parted in a seductive expression as she gazes longingly at the chocolate in her hand, as if it was her lover. All of these qualities make no secret of Godiva’s message: the feeling a woman receives after indulging in Godiva chocolate is as amazing as the feeling of indulging in a sexual encounter. Godiva attempts to sell us the idea that the special moment when that luscious piece of chocolate hits one’s tongue – the “golden moment” – is as deliciously satisfying as the moment of orgasm. This effort at appealing to raw, intimate emotion and female sexuality is an attempt to convince its mostly female consumer base, in the midst of an economic downturn, to put aside practicality; that Godiva chocolate is, “still worth buying during tough times” (Elliott), an indulgence on par with sexual passion.

Godiva’s name was based upon the legend of Lady Godiva, who was married to the powerful Leofric around 1050 A.D. (BBC). She is described as having, “pleaded with her husband to relieve the heavy burden of taxes he imposed on the citizens of Coventry” (BBC), and that her husband had been willing to grant her request upon fulfillment of his own request: that she ride naked through town, which she did as a selfless act for her community. Godiva’s website references this legend, albeit buried under many sub-menus, describing Lady Godiva as a selfless, kind, brave woman. They even launched the ‘Lady Godiva Program’ to formally recognize, “inspirational woman around the world” (Godiva). Why then, we must wonder, do their advertising strategies not fall in line with the celebration of these deeper and more meaningful inner qualities of women (or, gender aside, people), rather than reinforcing tired, superficial qualities like physical attractiveness and sex appeal?

Response ad to Godiva: celebrating who women are, rather than what they look like.
Response ad to Godiva: celebrating who women are, rather than what they look like.

It is possible to create an ad that targets the same customer base while focusing on what women do instead of how they look, thereby contributing to an overall change in how our society values women. One attempt depicts a doctor walking out of her office for the day, the setting made clear by the blurred figures in the background of patients and medical personnel. She is wearing a white coat and a stethoscope around her neck, and is smiling and waving goodbye to someone as she makes her way down the front steps. Her face wears an expression of happy confidence. Tucked under her arm is a box of Godiva chocolates; we wonder if she was rewarded with this special gift by a patient, or if she is planning to treat herself at the end of a productive day. The ad is successful by targeting the high-brow, prosperous female consumer base who enjoys indulging in the finer things in life, while highlighting the worth of women as it extends beyond the physical. Rather than equating feminine desire for chocolate with unbridled emotion, the ad conjures a more pragmatic view of enjoying chocolate, allowing some emotion to shine through in the doctor’s bright smile.

Proponents of ‘critical race theory’ believe that in order to, “adequately address the problematic representations and lack of diversity in advertising, we must educate ourselves about racism and create equal opportunity for anti-race themes to become commonplace” (Martin). Likewise, it is important that advertising professionals embrace fresh ideas and begin avoiding the typical depictions of women that have dominated the advertising landscape. Normalizing a concentration on the amazing things women do, as opposed to the current concentration on how sexy, aroused, or obedient women “should be” – or getting away from gender entirely as an advertising theme – would be a sizable step in the right direction toward gender equality.

Beyond Godiva: a 2008 ad for Whittaker’s Dark Chocolate using female sexuality to appeal to consumers (click the YouTube logo on the bottom right of the image below to click through to YouTube and view the video):

* Footnote for Maggie: reminder that we discussed my including a link to the first ad in lieu of embedding the ad, due to the NYT copyright. You may have to click through an ad after clicking on the link, in order to view the image.

Works Cited:

aas119e43. “Respondent Chocolate Ad.” 10 Apr 2015. Image.

BBC Ancient History. “An Anglo-Saxon Tale: Lady Godiva.” 2014. Bbc.co.uk. Web. 9 Apr 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/anglo_saxons/godiva_01.shtml

Elliott, Stuart. “Godiva Rides in a New Direction.” New York Times. 16 Nov 2009. Web. 8 Apr 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/business/media/16adnewsletter1.html?pagewanted=all

Godiva. “The GODIVA Name.” http://www.Godiva.com. Web. 9 Apr 2015. http://www.godiva.com/our-story-the-godiva-name/OurStoryArticle1.html

Martin, Carla. “AAAS E-119 Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Google Slides, AAAS E-119 iSite. 20 Jun 2011. Web. 9 Apr 2015.

Unknown. “A New Ad for Godiva.” New York Times. 16 Nov 2009. Image. Web. 9 Apr 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/11/16/business/energy-environment/16adnews1.html

Unknown. “Whittaker’s Dark Chocolate Ad 2008.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 15 Nov 2008. Web. 9 Apr 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlbnoAVNMPk