Tag Archives: Gender Stereotypes

Cacao, Cocao, Cocoa: The Deification of Chocolate in an American Household

Chocolate has fallen from its archaic divinity; as industrial chocolate manufactures, such as Hershey, Ghirardelli, Cadbury, Mars, L.A. Burdick and the multitudes of other small and large confectionary manufactures have strategically subverted religion and evaded the creation of a static definition of what can be classified as health food (Off, 2008). This has been done on a global scale (Allen, 2010). Yet, for all of the exploitation of natural and human labor resources in the mad capitalist race to net exponentially larger profits, methods of chocolate consumption have changed. Chocolate has invaded every home in America and continues to spread into even the most remote regions of the world were chocolate is merely grown as a exported market good (and the farmers have never tasted the finished product) (Leissle, 2012) (Martin 2016) (Stuckey, 2012). Modern chocolate consumption has continuously increased and transformed from a relished delicacy into an addiction, one that has fostered a cultic fanaticism in its omnipresence in American culture (Martin, 2016). Chocolate addiction has been fostered by dynamic consumption practices, various health benefits, ideals of beauty, sexualization of female chocolate consumption, and the reframing of sales advertisements to secularize and/or create holidays revolving around chocolate consumption (Leissle, 2012) (Howe, 2012) (Robertson, 2009) (Martin, 2016). Addiction is an all encompassing cultural mindset which has gone further in the continued liminal state of chocolate’s meaning to contemporary American society (Benton, 2004) (Robertson, 2009). Average American households often are not aware that their chocolate consumption is irrevocably linked to the various external methods of ideological implantation of chocolate as a religious iconographic good. A brief ethnographic analysis of an average New England household, comprising of my future in-laws, engenders a radical deviation from chocolate as a coveted, addictive necessity and furthers chocolate’s ideological transformation by coming full circle to again reify chocolate’s worship as a physical manifestation of divinity.

Cacao, or Kakawa, is a substance similar to maize, corn, in its purveyance in Mesoamerican culture and religious iconography (Coe & Coe, 2013). Cacao is also shown in Mayan iconography to have been conflated with the Maize god, this has rendered archaeological interpretations of cacao as the food of the gods (Coe & Coe, 2013). Ancient associations of cacao with the food of divinity has not been lost in modern methods of advertisement (Leissle, 2012). Even analyses of chocolate advertisements can be interpreted to illustrate that chocolate and divinity are intrinsically linked. Capitalism has not so subtlety transformed and secularized religious holidays by constructing the consumption of chocolate as a ritualized activity, in which participants (consumers) will be glorified and feel euphoria through acts the giving and receiving chocolates (Martin, 2016) (Robertson, 2009). Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and even the forty days of Lent have all become associated with chocolate consumption (Coe & Coe, 2013). Lent is the most indicative of chocolate’s association with divinity, through its construction as a vice (particularly for women) which should be avoided so as to liken oneself to the divinity of Christ’s fast and then temptation by Lucifer in the desert. My fiancée’s (F) family is traditionally Irish-Catholic, like much of the greater Boston area, and has their roots firmly set in the nomenclature of religious etiquette. However, like many religious followers, they merely retain a religiously linked ethnic identity. This is not to say that they do not follow a set of religious rituals that underpin their daily lives, but the god (chocolate) to which they devote both cognitive and subconscious worship, is revealed through the family’s vocalization and ritualization of chocolate consumption. Through almost a year of total emersion into their household I have observed both passively and actively their emphasis on the  importance of ritual chocolate consumption. By cooking, and baking, with the father (FD); observing F’s sister’s food habits (FS); and through consensual approval to inquire about their chocolate habits during informally structured interviews, I have captured a snapshot of the ethnographic phenomenon by which chocolate has been re-deified.

Anonymity Disclaimer: all proper names are changed to protect anonymity and personal privacy.

Fridge
This is a clear over exaggeration, but illustrates the extent chocolate is incorporated into their diet.

The demographic biological sex ratio in my fiancée’s family, including myself, is three females to two males. I entered their household in June 2015, as it was the most convenient way to save up money for our wedding and attend school. My fiancée and her sister both have severe cases of mental illnesses, and have self-proclaimed themselves vegetarians, which has inhibited their ability to consume a wide variety of food products. Prior to my debut, F’s family cooked for and brought FS any food that FS desired, while FS was unable to leave her bedroom due to severe agoraphobia. During this period and into the first several months of living with the F-in-laws, the father (FD) and mother (FM) brought FS mass quantities of sweets (per her request)- the vast majority of which contained chocolate in some form. These sweets were then incorporated into FS’s daily diet through both home cooked treats and purchased delicacies. So pervasive was chocolate into the kitchen and pantry, I could not open the refrigerator without stumbling upon 8 out of 10 items containing chocolate. Even F considered pancakes unsatisfying is they did not contain chocolate chips, accompanied by chocolate milk, and chocolate croissants, from FD’s crafting or purchased from the local French bakery. Upon my alien perspective into this near total emersion of chocolate into every aspect of nutrition, as I prefer recipe purity without the forced inclusion of chocolate, F’s mother (FM) made it quite clear that the extant to which chocolate was considered medicinal. Even long-standing family recipes, such as their grandmother’s scone recipe, that originally contained fruit changed to substitute chocolate chips; this was celebrated not only by F’s immediate family but the extended relatives as well. F, FD, and FM prefer dark chocolate; FS prefers milk chocolate. Methods of dietary consumption are among the easiest to witness, but also the amount to which F’s family purchases or crafts feminine hygiene products known to contain cocoa butter, and the amount of objects, utensils, and other paraphernalia used in the consumption, production, promotion, or distribution of chocolate.

Saying that their mass consumption of all things chocolate is a product of the historical engendering of chocolate as healthy for dietary consumption limits the extent to which FM’s concept of medicinal use resonates with the subjectivity of healthy consumption (Albritton, 2012) (Watson, Preedy, & Zibadi, 2013). FS suffered tremendous weight gain from overconsumption of carbohydrates and sugars (Albritton, 2012), most in the form of chocolate pastries and confections, but FM continued to supply these “medicinal” chocolates. In accordance with popular conceptions of the medicinal use of chocolate, it historically has been linked to a healthy state of mind and postulated to aid the treatment of mental illnesses such as “hypochondriac melancholy“(Watson, Preedy, & Zibadi, 2013). FM’s utilization of chocolate as a medical ritual to expedite the healing of FS’s mental faculties echoes: the Mesoamerican use of cacao as a restorative of the deities, the early European adoption of cacao as a similar but secularized restorative devoid of divine embodiment, and contemporary literature on chocolate’s ability to illicit pleasure responses from the brain. Contemporary concepts of chocolate’s medicinal use illuminate the chocolate industry’s persistent norms of advertisement and the increase of processed sugar consumption and sugar additives into nearly all forms of processed foodstuffs. Yet FM’s use goes beyond these analyses and parallels the sentiments that “‘chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea, and universal medicine'” (Coe & Coe, 2013: 206). While FM’s use may be a product of the historical connections of chocolate and sugar with pleasure and medicine, through the incorporation of chocolate into the entirety of the family’s diet, chocolate has been ritualized and elevated beyond the simple medicinal binary to that of a religious deity, with whom daily worship will foster inner-peace, health, and happiness in its followers. FM’s deification of chocolate retains striking parallels to the Christian description of a personal daily relationship with God, as advertised by the Bible.

chocolate-london
A example of the cultural stigma concerning chocolate as addicitive.

F’s family’s ritual utilization of chocolate’s medicinal benefits are the product of historical polemics concerning the increase of sugar consumption, the socio-economic shift of chocolate from Mesoamerican stable to European luxury to plebian stable, and subliminally engendering advertisements (Coe & Coe, 2013). Sugar has been directly linked to diabetes, obesity, and increasing addictive behaviors, akin to drug addiction, through it’s association with pleasurable reinforcement as a reward (Benton, 2004)(Mintz, 1985). The historical shift in utilizing sugar as a preservative (Goody, 2013) directly led to the chocolate industry’s use of sugar as a stabilizing agent which also happened to increase sweetness aka. desirability, and thus “unintentionally” producing a method of engendering consumer addiction for chocolates at a early stage of industrialization (Brenner, 1999) (D’Antonio, 2006: 107) (Mintz, 1985). By keeping in context the link between sugar and addiction, the increase of sugar in chocolate opened new possibilities of advertising. Not only was chocolate now sweet, it also had been historically constructed as medicinal; it could now be produced in vast quantities previously unavailable until the industrial revolution (Brenner, 1999) (Coe & Coe, 2013). Chocolate could now be produced cheaply, containing adulterated products and sweeteners, masking the purity of the roasted cacao bean’s savory nature, and enabled new advertising strategies, informed by chocolate’s newly found socio-economic versatility (Stuckey, 2012) (Allen, 2010). These advertising campaigns have been able to pander to chocolate’s versatility in its ability to render multiple positive responses from consumers. F’s family utilization of chocolate as a restorative “cure-all” is the product of sugar’s addictive qualities, but their daily, weekly, monthly consumption of chocolate as a dietary necessity (only in the manner to which it produces a mental release of endorphins via the sugar and the Pavlovian association of chocolate with sugar) goes beyond this sweet binary to echo the mental and physical rejuvenation that religious ritual produces (Benton, 2004).

ChocolateCrossLollipops_000
Chocolate cookies meant to imitate those taken during communion, as well as to celebrate the taking of communion. This reinforces the rewards gained upon participating in religious rituals.

Mars’ Snickers campaign “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry, Snickers Satisfies” illustrates the multi-faceted approach that the Mars company takes in its marketing (Brenner, 1999). Mars’ advertisements embody the concept of satisfaction through one of it’s original marketing strategies to simply make a larger candy bar cost the same as the competition’s small one, through the incorporation of peanuts, caramel, and nougat (the primary ingredient of two of these is sugar)(Brenner, 1999). The campaign simultaneously engenders the concept that the Snickers’ bar will satisfy the physical manifestation of hunger and that the consumption of the candy will elevate the psyche back to normalcy (Benton, 2004). This engenders the ritualization of chocolate consumption as a divine facilitator of both inner (mental) and outer (physical hunger) peace; thus similarly paralleling the act of taking communion at Catholic Mass, this advertisement reifies a foodstuff to miraculously facilitate the divine restoration of the mortal self. F’s family reflects this theological embodiment of chocolate consumption as a canonized ritual, yet this advertisement does not alone explain why the three women are so captivated by chocolate’s allure.

cacao tree maize god
The Maize god is here depicted as apart of a cacao tree (Coe & Coe, 2013: 39).

Hershey’s Dove chocolate campaign (above) has a clear agenda engendering a gender stereotype of women being the primary consumers of chocolate (Robertson, 2009). F’s family represents this as the three women (F, FS, and FM) are the primary consumers of chocolate, while FD is the primary facilitator of consumption through his production of meals and snacks that prominently incorporate chocolate. This stereotype of women as chocoholics is rooted in historical contexts and has long been debunked as an “[addiction not] to chocolate but to sugar” (Robertson, 2009) (Coe & Coe, 2013: 260) (Benton, 2004). However, no matter the scientific or psychological realities of sugar addicts (Benton, 2004), this advertisement embodies chocolate’s reconstructed relationship with divinity by directly linking the consumption of Dove chocolate with the Mesoamerican concept of deification of oneself through the consumption of divine foodstuffs: particularly in their artistic conflation of the Maize god with cacao trees (Coe & Coe, 2013: 39), and through Mayan recipes mixing maize and cacao (Tokovinine, 2015). The Maya considered all objects to be of divine embodiment (Tokovinine, 2015), particularly those containing maize, which they believed was the physical embodiment of their physical selves as they were created from sacred Maize, stated in their sacred origin text the Popul Vuh, and were also divinely given the sacred crops of maize and cacao for consumption (Coe & Coe, 2013). By conflating the Maize god with a cacao pod the Mayans set a ritual precedent for the divine consumption of chocolate as enabling humanity to transcend into a divine state of epiphany. The Dove advertisement then conflates this ancient cultic practice with the more modern concept of women as the primary consumers of chocolate. Women, constructed in the advertisement as the downtrodden and oppressed gender (Bourdieu, 2001), can escape this existence through consuming chocolate and experiencing their own “moment” or existential epiphany outside of this oppression (Robertson, 2009). F’s family’s near unilaterally gender-stratified consumption of chocolate represents the religious epiphany of transcendental existence, which also reinforces the earlier discourse concerning chocolate as a parallel of Communion. Chocolate consumption now enables modern humanity to embody divinity.

Hershey furthers this gender binary of chocolate consumption through Dove’s “Only Human” advertisement campaign, which in chocolate consumption provides and escape from being female (Benton, 2004). The women are shown to be weak and “Only Human,” but Dove chocolate then provides a “real” comfort from the harsh realities of femininity (Benton, 2004). Going beyond this advertisement’s sexist engenderment, chocolate can now be associated with another of religion’s coveted abilities: the offerance of sanctuary. Chocolate makes the difficulties of human existence tolerable by offering brief sanctuaries, at the ‘moment’ of consumption, meta-physically separated from the human experience. The sanctuary that chocolate provides in these ‘moments’ parallels the sanctuary offered to praticioners of prayer, which provide a ‘moment’ with divinity meant to rejuvenate and make right the pain of a human existence. F’s family’s incorporation of chocolate into nearly all foodstuffs is now clearly representative of ritual prayers for protection from the evils and difficulties of a modern human, explicitly female, existence.

Other modes of ritual chocolate consumption are woven throughout the family’s daily lives: that of hygienic products. It has been well documented that cocoa butter, made from hydraulically pressing cacao liquor (Coe & Coe, 2013: 255), is highly effective in the treatment and prevention of various skin, and hair ailments. Placement of cocoa butter into hygienic products echoes both Baptism and the Catholic ritual of the Anointment of the Sick. Both of these religious rituals engage in a ritual purification of the body and soul. Chocolate can be religiously vindicated through the purification of the human existence, and divinely heal the physical manifestations of the human condition. Dissenters, who would disagree with this statement, are to be reminded of the Christian Science movement, whose belief in the healing power of prayer is thought to heal all physical ailments (thought to be sins’ physical manifestations), and scientific medical treatments are spurred as sinful disregard of God’s will (Norton, 1899). Thus a conflated argument to be made is that the consumption of chocolate is equal to prayer, regardless of the science behind cocoa butter’s ability to remedy topical ailments of the skin and hair. Even through dissent, contemporary chocolate consumption has reified itself as divine through F’s family’s hygienic self anointment with sacred cocoa butter.

LA Burdick
The exact type of ceramic serveware that F has at home.

Ritual can be identified easily through archaeological interpretation of material culture- that is to say, the artifacts by which rituals are carried out with. Chocolate manufacturing has built megalithic structures dedicated to the continual production of chocolate, such that entire communities sprung into existence to support its cultic fanatical production. Milton Hershey’s factory communes illustrate this quite succinctly (Brenner, 1999)(D’Antonio, 2006). Even the consumption of chocolate has ritual implements, such as: stylized porcline serveware, chocolatière, and the appropriated Mesoamerican molinillo (Martin, 2016). F’s family does not have all such ritual implements as modern technology’s updated versions of the chocolatière and molinillo (serving kettle and whisks), but they do have stylized ceramic ware for the sole consumption of chocolate, indicated by the imprinted logo of L.A. Burdick (a chocolatier company). F’s house has designated chocolate cabinets for the storage of preserved “instant” chocolate beverages, edible chocolates, and hygenic cocoa products; while this cabinet space is shared with similar items for drink, eating, and hygeine, the totality of chocolate’s combination with these other products merely increases the variety by which chocolate’s ritual artifacts are incorporated into daily life.

Chocolate’s transtitional state speaks to the originial liminal state by which the Mayans contextualized their existence around divinity. Chocolate has come full circle in the historical utilizations and perperonderances by which chocolate consumption has been stereotyped, redefined, and ritualized. Through the analysis of F and her family’s cultic ritual habits of chocolate, they are revealed to be the ultimate by-product of a centuries-long polemic that has created a new world religion focused on the ritualized production and consumption, based on an engendered, constructed faith that chocolate is divinely able to elevate the human condition out of the mire of oppression, through psychological and physical restoration of peace, harmony, happiness, and self-satisfaction.

 

 

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Empowering Women in Advertisments

I wanted to open this blog post with a witty sentence introducing my topic, why the era of sexualizing women in advertisements needs to end, and googled ‘sex sells’ for inspiration. The second hit had the following description:

Here is the cold hard truth, “Sex Sells.” Hate it or love it, sex attracts the eye more than any other type of advertisement (Ovsyannykov).

In lieu of this, here is my introduction, albeit angrier and less witty than I had originally intended:

Here is the cold hard truth, we live in a patriarchal society: women currently earn $0.79 to every dollar made by men and it will be another century before gender equality is achieved in top management positions if we continue at the current pace (Bloomberg). Hate it or love it, barriers and obstacles to gender parity are rampant in society, one of the most pervasive being the presentation of women in advertisement as sexual and trivial beings. “Sex sells,” it attracts the eye, capturing the attention of audiences, but it is not the only means of effective advertising. In fact, for products or services that have nothing to do with sex, sexual advertisements can be less effective than non-sexual advertisements (Lynn).

The chocolate industry is plagued by marketing campaigns that marginalize women, depicting them as sexual objects unable to resist the temptation of chocolate. By portraying women in this light, these advertisements are helping to maintain gender stereotypes and harming the mental health of young girls. The chocolate industry, particularly as a non-sexual industry, has a moral obligation to move away from using gendered stereotypes in advertisements.

Chocolate Advertisements: A Gendered Portrayal  

In “Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History,” Emma Robertson discusses the portrayal of women in the chocolate industry versus the reality of their position. She traces chocolate from the harvest of the cacao in Africa to production in factories to consumption, and offers that advertising “failed to represent the actual economic, political, and social conditions in which Rowntree and Cadbury products, and ultimately profits, were produced” (Robertson, 19). Women were fetishized as housewives and mothers, shown as irrational narcissistic consumers, and objective as “sexual objects to maintain male morale” (Robertson, 30). Prior to WWII, they were solely depicted in the workplace during wartime although they were responsible for the production of chocolate bars in factories during peace times.

For more examples of the sexualization of women in chocolate advertisements, check out this web page from Carla Martin’s “Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.”

The Sexualization of Women: Dramatic Effects

By depicting women in such a sexualized way, the chocolate industry is subliminally enforcing the antiquated stereotype that women are objects. This bolsters the current societal inequities and provides supporting evidence to stereotypes. This has a couple noteworthy implications for the workplace: it may make people less likely to inherently trust and support the rise of women in managerial positions, and also can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly bombarded by the idea that women are meant for the house not office, women can internalize this message and consequentially not try to rise the corporate ranks or stand up for themselves and demand an earned salary/position.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a study that found that the sexualization of women in the media has negative effects on young girls who are exposed to it, effecting cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development (Zurbriggen). Research finds a strong linkage between sexualization and eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression, three of the most commonly diagnosed mental problems in girls and women (Zurbriggen). This means that the take away for young girls viewing the sexy chocolate ads described above is not the product advertised but the characteristics of the oftentimes female model.

 Changing the Dialogue: Our Kit Kat Advertisement

In hopes of changing the focus of chocolate advertisements, we chose to recreate a Nestlé Kit-Kat advertisement from the “One-minute break” campaign created by Zoopa, an Italian agency in 2008. Inspired by the “One-Minute Sculptures” of Erwin Wurum, this ad campaign features various professionals in silly positions with a Kit Kat bar. Unlike the featured men who are shown in appropriate workplace clothing, the woman is shown in a revealing skirt with a high front slit even though skirt suits generally have a small slit in the back for the sole purpose of allowing for greater leg mobility when walking. While the painter is shown with brushes and a ladder, the doctor with a stethoscope, and the businessman with a laptop, the woman is shown solely with a rolling chair, an object that does not increase productivity whatsoever, particularly as standing desks become more and more popular in the workplace.

Our advertisement (below on the right; the original advertisement is below on the left) is empowering: we clothed our model in a pantsuit just like the other members of the campaign. The laptop she carries and the added tagline, “Two perfect presentations down, two to go. Have a break, you earned it”, not only stress her professionalism but also the role of Kit-Kats as an enjoyable midday energy-booster. With her head turned, the focus is on the Kit-Kat bar, not the model, with the red packaging standing out starkly against the light backdrop. These changes keep the main intended message from the original advertisement intact, “Have a break. Have a Kit Kat,” while dramatically improving the subliminal message – that women can be powerful agents in the workplace.

Moving Forward: A Moral Obligation

The portrayal of women in advertisements has not naturally followed nor kept pace with the changing social roles of women, and it is time chocolate companies, particularly the Big 5, transform their marketing practices. To encourage change, governments should follow the European Union, who in 2008 passed a resolution urging Member States to honor the ‘European Pact for Gender Equality’ by tackling marketing and advertising (Van Hellemont and Van den Bulck). Specifically, they called on Member States to ensure:

“by appropriate means that marketing and advertising guarantee respect for human dignity and integrity of the person, are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory nor contain any incitement to hatred based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

Although enforcing this type of legislation can be difficult, it can create incentives for change. The resolution suggested Member States create public awards for companies and campaigns that create advertisements emphasizing gender equality. This incentivizes companies by providing them with the opportunity to gain free media attention across a large population. The legislation also starts a dialogue, and public pressure can be the strongest catalyst for change.

Work Cited

“Cadbury’s Flake – Bath (1992, UK)”.YouTube. 2016. Web.
Colby, Laura. “Women’s C-Suite Equality is Only 100 Years Away.” Bloomberg. 2015. Web.
Lynn, Ann Louise. “The effects of female sexual images on persuasion.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (1995). Web.
Martin, Carla. “Valentine’s Day: Women Being Seduced by Chocolate.” Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. 2012. Web.
Nestlé S.A. Kit Kat. Ads of the World. Zooppa, June 2008. Web.
Ovsyannykov, Igor. “Sex Sells, 50 Creative Sexual Advertisements.” Inspiration Feed (2011). Web.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press (2010). Print.
Van Hellemont, Corinne, and Hilde Van den Bulck. “Impacts of advertisements that are unfriendly to women and men.” International Journal of Advertising 31 (2012). Web.
Zurbriggen, Eileen L. et al. Report Of The APA Task Force On The Sexualization Of Girls. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Web.

Sexualization of Women in ads: Godiva’s Failed Attempt to Empower Female Consumers

Introduction

Chocolate consumption was feminized early and many advertisements initially targeted women because they were responsible for household decisions and thus had purchasing power (Robinson 20). Chocolate companies however also soon recognized the potential relationship between female sensuality and luxurious chocolate and started targeting men through feminine advertisements. Today, advertisements for chocolate have become increasingly more sexualized and we see an alarming trend with ads that promote gender stereotypes. Women in contemporary ads are often depicted as irrational or excessively aroused due to chocolate (Martin). As the analysis of the campaign below suggests, there is an urgent need for advertisements that empower female consumers.

The GoDiva Campaign

In 2004, Godiva launched an advertising campaign, GoDiva, aimed at promoting an indulgent lifestyle to women between 25 and 30 and (Cho). Godiva’s efforts to appeal to a new consumer base, however, were not particularly successful because the campaign exploited women rather than empowering them.

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As seen in the advertisement above, which is part of the campaign, a scantly dressed woman is lying down, seductively gazing into the camera. She is clad in a sheer fabric that is seemingly falling off her shoulders. Her hair is tousled and she stares into the camera with desire. Interestingly, the Godiva chocolate truffle is sensually placed on the woman’s chest, bringing the viewer’s eyes to her cleavage. The woman’s right hand is placed on her chest while the left hand is sensually caressing the hair, further adding to her sultry look. All these attributes give the advertisement an erotic vibe, and could highlight that the woman has or is soon to engage in a sexually pleasurable act.

Moreover, the strange placement of the truffle seems to suggest that the truffle is not aimed for self-consumption, but rather to be consumed by someone else. Furthermore, her posture places her at the disposal of the implied chocolate consumer, reinforcing the notion that this woman is subordinate to her partner.

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These ads were part of Godiva’s campaign and feature women who seductively gaze into the camera.

The tagline of Godiva’s campaign, “Every Woman is One Part (Go)Diva” is catchy, but in connection to photos of submissive women, it fails to empower prospective female consumers. The other ads in the campaign similarly feature white women with seductive styling and submissive body postures. Moreover, the models are portrayed in dimly lit rooms that feature chandeliers and ornamented wallpapers. These factors imply that Godiva is primarily for upscale white consumers, thus highlighting issues related to race and class.

Lastly, it seems problematic that Godiva chooses to highlight the word diva in the campaign. Although Merriam Webster’s definition of the word diva suggest that it is “a usually glamorous and successful female performer or personality,” the word also carries a negative connotation and is often used to describe someone who is arrogant and high maintenance. The interaction between the campaign’s tagline and photos submissive women thus seem particularly problematic.

An Alternative Ad

In response to Godiva’s campaign, I am proposing a campaign that effectively empowers women. As highlighted, a major issue in Godiva’s campaign, and chocolate advertisements in general, is that the women are portrayed as submissive tools intended to satisfy someone else’s sexual desire. My campaign addresses issues of female exploitation and seeks to empower prospective female consumers.

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Rather than highlighting the word “diva,” which carries negative connotations, the ad will highlight the word “go” to further emphasize that the woman in the ad has agency.

In the proposed ad, a young woman is portrayed in an office setting. She is exiting a meeting room with a confident smile on her face. In stark contrast to Godiva’s Diva-campaign she is not staring into the camera, and is thus not consumed by the male gaze. The woman in the proposed ad has a lot of agency, and seeks a moment of “sweet escape” after a successful day at work. In contrast to the original ad, she is portrayed as strong and independent, and thus the chocolate is intended for self-consumption. The new ad highlights that the chocolate can be associated with luxury and gratification, without blunt references to sex. Moreover, the woman in the ad is appropriately dressed and shows very little skin, to refrain from exploiting the female body.

Lastly, one major issue with Godiva’s campaign is that it failed to promote diversity, and my campaign will cast a diverse group of women of different ethnicities. Moreover, the proposed campaign aims to promote a healthy body ideal, similar to the woman in the proposed ad above.

I truly believe that the proposed campaign will appeal to female consumers who need a break after a busy day at work. The campaign is also likely empower women, and will be extended to include females in other work settings, thus reaching a broader audience. The working woman is relatable, and the campaign successfully pushes back on gender stereotypes and female sexualization in chocolate advertisements.

 

Works Cited

Martin, Carla D. “Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements”.” Harvard University. Cambridge, MA. 30 March. 2016. Lecture.

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

 

Media Sources

Godiva Appeals to Women with “Diva” Campaign. Digital Image. http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/. Web. 9 March. 2016

 

 

 

The sexualization of women in chocolate ads: completely absurd when subverted.

The overt sexualization of women is pervasive in current chocolate advertising. This is likely an artifact of the portrayal of chocolate as sinful, which has been common in western culture since its introduction to the European market. Chocolate advertising is, and has been for a long time, problematic in many ways, but the sexism and clear sexual innuendo in its advertising seems both the most frequent abuse as well as the most curious. Chocolate is mostly an impulse purchase in the U.S. and Europe, and is most often purchased by women, so chocolate advertising, understandably, targets women (Martin, Lecture 2016). At the same time, however, the portrayal of women in chocolate ads is often incredibly sexist, and sexualizes them in a way that is expected of ads targeting a mostly male audience.

I have selected three chocolate advertisements that use this form of marketing. The first is a frame from an advertisement for a Cadbury flake bar, in which the viewer intrudes on a young woman eating a Cadbury chocolate flake bar in her bathtub, and presumably having an orgasm. Really, the imagery is so apparent that we don’t actually have to presume that much, if at all. It is understandable that a company would want to advertise a product to women as capable of giving them orgasms, at least on the level of ‘sex sells,’ yet ads like this portray the women as obsessive and sex-crazed, at best, and objects akin to a piece of chocolate at worst. Emma Roberts points out in her book that there is a clear link in advertising between women and sex, and that such advertisements “perpetuate western sexist and racist ideologies under a veneer of pleasurable consumption” (Robertson 2009), yet this is often used to sell products to men. In fact, advertisement research on the topic has shown that women in general respond more negatively to sexual advertisements than men (Dahl, Sengupta, & Vohs 2008). Why would ads for women cross the line from selling sex to women, to selling sex to men and falling into sexist stereotypes?

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This woman is apparently having an orgasm by eating this chocolate bar in a way that suggests fellatio. Nobody eats chocolate like this, and no one eats chocolate in a tub. Why is she being sexualized to sell the chocolate to women?

Below are two more ads that fall into the category of sexualization in a way that targets women and is at the same time offensive to them. In the advertisement of Filthy chocolate, the sinfulness and obsessiveness that often ties women and chocolate together is explicitly written in the text of the advertisement. Further, we can see the woman, clothed in chocolate, in a state of what seems to be intense pleasure, but with her body contorted in an extremely unrealistic way, and which portrays sexuality but not ‘properness.’ That is, it buys into a typical representation of women for male audiences, that aims to portray them as sexual objects, but with some degree of resistance to that sexuality, because are not intended to embrace their sexuality as openly as men can. In the advertisement by dove, it is hard to discern any traceable attempt to appeal to women, other than the fact that a woman is eating the chocolate. The woman holds her mouth and consumes the chocolate in an incredibly sexual way, but is disembodied, without any character, and shows no sign of enjoyment of the action, which the other ads, though problematic, at least are able to achieve. This ad strikes me as completely nonsensical, as it only sexualizes the woman but fails to deliver any convincing evidence that the chocolate will maker her happy.

 

 

In our advertisements, my group partner and I decided recreated these advertisements with men eating chocolate in the absurd way that women are portrayed as eating chocolate in many of these ads. It is intended to point out the completely flawed thinking that goes into ads that target women at the same time as stereotyping and objectifying them. First, and most apparently, nobody actually eats chocolate the way that these women are portrayed as eating chocolate. It is actually accepted in the media as not being absurd because people are used to this overt sexualization of women, but our ad points out how absurd it is by showing people very different from incredibly attractive, likely airbrushed, women eating chocolate in this manner. These ads include an attempt to portray the contorted, sexual-yet-shy body language of the ‘Filthy’ chocolate ad, to the apparent orgasm that eating chocolate can give a person. In the context of young men doing these things instead of young women, they seem ridiculous.

 

Works Cited

“As Britain’s Sexiest Chocolate Ad Hits 40 … It’s Joss – Only the Sultriest, Funkiest Flake            Girl.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

Bui, Quang. Filthy Chocolate Ad Campaign. Digital image. 22 May 2011. Web.

Dahl, D., Sengupta, J., & Vohs, K. (2008). Sex In Advertising: Gender Differences And     the Role of Relationship Commitment. Journal of Consumer Research, 215-231.

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

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate         Advertisements.” Aframer 119x. CGIS, Cambridge. 30 Mar. 2016. Lecture.

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

Silva, Tanya. “Chocolate, Orgasms, and Valentine’s Day.” Tanyasilva.com. N.p., n.d.        Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

The False Narrative of Chocolate & Female Sexuality, and the Importance of Promoting Chocolate to Women Without Degradation

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Advertisement for Dove’s Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate bar from the “My Moment. My Dove.” campaign (2008).

Historically, chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac, associated with love and sex, and perceived in highly gendered ways, with evidence of this in the Aztec culture and Victorian Era, for example (Martin). Modern advertising narratives, such as the Cadbury Flake ad featuring a woman in a bath, continue these traditional themes associated with chocolate by selling the candy with highly sexualized, erotic images and messages. Chocolate advertisers frequently depict the experience of consuming chocolate as “identical to the pleasure of sex or redeemable for the pleasure of sex” (Anderson). I will examine the Dove ad for their Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate bar, pictured to the right, and consider how the image, and other chocolate ads, create a harmful narrative around chocolate and female sexuality. Too often, they promote a notion of women as weak objects, who, once exposed to the influence of chocolate, which serves as an alternative to men, are completely powerless.

The Dove ad is not true to the actual product: the cranberry almond bar is not a substitute for sex and it will not incapacitate the woman by providing her with irresistible physical satisfaction. By obscuring the reality of the product and depicting women as easily, irrationally entranced by chocolate, and by extension, as helpless, I contend that ads like this Dove ad are promoting an injurious characterization of women as objects without agency, and without interests beyond satisfying their own pleasure. It is important to consider the effects of these messages on female self-perception, and work to create ads that instead more accurately celebrate chocolate as a tasty sweet, rather than a “sexual surrogate” (Kawash), and women as real people with depth and personality.

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This ad for Magnum Chocolate is one example of the preponderance of ads suggesting that women share sexual experience with chocolate.

Samira Kawash, author of Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, notes the “overt sexuality” of the Dove ad, which she describes as featuring a “lithe woman caressed by brown silk, writhing in pleasure” (Kawash). Upon first glance, the viewer notices a woman wrapped up in a silky brown material with an expression of pure bliss. Her eyes are closed, her features are soft, and her expression is one of peaceful ecstasy. She is certainly in rapture, but her face has been molded in a way so as to not create a dramatic appearance, so she does not appear too powerful. The ad focuses on the comprehensive sum of the different elements of the image: the woman’s euphoric expression, the silky folds of the fabric, the soft lighting, and the suggestive overlaying words.

Noticeably, the whole advertisement is tinted brown and it is difficult to discern sharp boundaries between the woman’s face, her hair, and the silky cloth that is wrapped around her. Dove has carefully crafted and edited the image so as to make the woman in bed resemble creamy chocolate in hue and texture. It is if chocolate is literally taking over the woman because of its overpowering effect on her. She is a remarkably flat figure and resembles a painted face, rather than an individual with a personality, sense of self, and means of influence.

The words at the bottom of the advertisement further reinforce the overt sexual connotations of the image and characterize the woman as easily seduced and without agency: “Now it can last longer than you can resist. Unwrap. Indulge. Repeat.”

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My re-designed Dove ad, working to promote a more realistic characterization of chocolate and a positive depiction of women.

My re-designed ad celebrates women as strong, dynamic beings, and markets Dove chocolate for what it is — a sweet. The new ad focuses on the women’s actions, namely, their decision to go for a bike ride together, rather than their sexual satisfaction. It shows that women are strong and in control; they enjoy adventures, represented through biking, and sweets, presumably chocolate, and will not be manipulated or lulled into an euphoric slumber by a mere candy. Furthermore, I incorporated three women into the advertisement to suggest the social nature of chocolate as a food to be shared among friends, rather than an erotic object or substitute for sex that is enjoyed alone in one’s bed, as the initial advertisement suggests with the shrouded woman. The new slogan, “Now life can be full of adventures and sweets,” promotes chocolate as a delicious addition to an active life, rather than an instrument to prod female sexuality.

Considering that most chocolate, and certainly the “My Dove, My Moment” ad, is targeted at women, the implicit messages of female degradation have a negative effect on self-perception. The re-designed ad takes the opportunity to reach so many female consumers to convey a positive, uplifting message by featuring women who are engaged with the world around them and with one another. Dove chocolate will provide women with “sweet” support in their active lives.

 

Works Cited:

Anderson, L.V. “Cuckoo for Chocolate.” Slate Magazine. Slate.com, 13 Feb 2012. Web.

Cadbury’s Flake: Deliciously Terrifying. Video. YouTube. N.p., 2 Mar 2010. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM4rfqcHtNo&gt;.>.

Cranberry Almond Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate. Digital image. Calorie Count. N.p., 2016. Web. <https://www.caloriecount.com/calories-dove-cranberry-almond-silky-smooth-i132158&gt;.

Dove Ad. Digital image. The Society Pages. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/files/2010/11/dove.jpg&gt;.

Magnum Chocolate Ad in Beautiful HD. Digital image. YouTube. N.p., 9 May 2011. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM4rfqcHtNo&gt;.

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times. The New York Times Online,, 13 Feb 2014. Web.

 
Martin, Carla, PhD. “Chocolate expansion.” AFAM 199X. CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, Cambridge. 10 Feb. 2016. Lecture.

Race and Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements

Intro

Chocolate and advertisements often go hand in hand. Since its discovery by the Europeans, the popularity of chocolate rose in the 1600s, and it do so through the use of advertisement. Early advertisements began as word of mouth, but over the years it has progressed into what we now know as modern Ads: videos, photos, drawings. Along with progression, came a slew of negative stereotypes that were consistently portrayed for the sake of marketing certain goods. Of the many representations shown through images and videos, the two that will be discussed, is the use of race and gender in Ads. Time and time again, the respect for the history of chocolate and people has been disregarded for the sake of promoting a product.

Race

Chocolate is often used as a synonym for darker skin. This is portrayed consistently in the media whether it is though words or imagery. In this Thai Ad, a new charcoal donut is being advertised. A bite is take out of the donut, which presumably turns the woman “black”. This literal representation is seen in the woman painted in black—to depict “charcoal”, while her pink lips stand out against her face. Dunkin Donuts has received much criticism over the lack of racial sensitivity in the Ad. The chocolate donut could have been marketed in other ways without resorting to race. Tactics such as this undermines  the history and struggle of a group of our population in order to sell products.

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A woman’s face turns black, after taking a bite out of a charcoal donut.

Gender

As seen in both ads, females are often depicted as the representation for chocolates and sweets. Females are stereotyped into roles of femininity and sexuality in order to represent the object at hand. It often becomes hard to tell whether it’s the product or sex that is being sold, as the two are very entwined. As the image below shows, Cadbury is being compared to a female, and not just any female, but the supermodel Naomi Campbell. Her name brings to mind, images of being a diva, sassy, tall, slender, and beautiful. Focus is paid to the physical attributes that are deemed as the ideal. These physical features are used to convey confidence, sassiness, allure and sexuality. This theme is repeated in countless advertisements where females are seen laying on a bed, or in various sexual poses. It’s as if, any female that doesn’t fit the mold of the stereotypical sexual woman, chocolate just wouldn’t taste as good.

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An Ad comparing an new Cadbury product to the model Naomi Campbell, who is of African descent

Original Ad

More focus need to be paid on making advertisements inclusive. Breaking free of stereotypes will allow the advertised message to reach a greater array of audiences who do not fit gender and racial molds. The focus should always be on the product more so than the people. Advertisements should aim to remove any ambiguity as to what is being sold and any stereotypes that are being subliminally reinforced. The original ad depicts an image of chocolate of various color and shapes, with the message   of celebrating all colors and shapes. The message is in direct response to the images above, where the mainstream links chocolate exclusively to dark skinned and African people. This ad tries to break free of socially constructed images of the “ideal women”—tall and skinny—which do not always depict the everyday norm. Above all, the advertisement focuses solely on the product, leaving no ambiguity as to what is being sold and the audience that is being targeted—everyone.

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An Inclusive Ad that aims to focus just on the product and to celebrate differences.

Although this original Ad aims to deconstruct stereotypes, its focus may be too narrow. The slogan, “..in every shade and size”, responds only to the racial and body image portrayal of females. Male audiences, along with children and elder people may be marginalized. This shows how easy it is to leave out sections of the consumer population, wether it is intentional or not. It also shows how important it is to be inclusive of all people. Advertisements should direct their efforts in embracing and celebrating differences, not using it to reinforce centuries old ideal. Over time, Ads should completely move away from depicting chocolate to race and gender all together. The sole reason for candy should be for the sake of taste and satisfaction.

 

References

 Logan, Ruth. “Dunkin’ Donuts Apologizes For ‘Racist’ Blackface Ad.” News One Dunkin Donuts Apologizes For Racist BlackfaceAd Comments. NEWSONE, Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. 
 Wade, Lisa. “On Cadbury, Naomi Campbell, and Colorblindness – Sociological Images.” Sociological Images On Cadbury Naomi Campbell and Colorblindness Comments. The Society Pages, June 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. 

Sexism, Racism, Colorism and Chocolate

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Supermodel icon Naomi Campbell. photo: the gaurdian

Founded in 1824, Cadbury is no stranger to controversy and has created a legacy of producing stereotypical, racially insensitive advertisements. A few examples are the infamous Drumming Gorilla (2007); and the Mastication for the Nation (2009). Although these advertisements negatively impacted and offended consumers of color in a hurtful way, the Cadbury brand continued to ignore and exploit the offenses for financial gain. In this instance, Cadbury compared their Dairy Milk Bliss Bar to Naomi Campbell–an iconic supermodel of European nationality and Black ethnicity. Campbell, nationally known, recognized and worshipped for her striking features and beauty, signature runway walk, and flawless brown skin; also became known for having violent physical outbursts and tantrums. It is the latter of Campbell’s reputation that Cadbury used to both explain and defend the source of inspiration for the Bliss Bar advertisement. In my critical analysis, I consider Cadbury’s history of racially inappropriate ads; lack of sensitivity to people of color; and refusal to address and eliminate overarching racist themes in their advertisements. Finally, I create an alternative advertisement, which introduces the three new flavours of the Dairy Milk Bliss Bar, inviting diversity through inclusion.

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Cadbury’s infamous Dairy Milk Bliss chocolate ad. photo: theguardian

In 2011, Cadbury ran a campaign to introduce its Dairy Milk Bliss Bar in three new flavors (Chocolate Truffle, Toffee Truffle & Hazelnut Truffle). The image is simple: the Dairy Milk Bliss Bar mounted atop a montage of diamonds. But it is the tagline that sucks the life from its debut launch: “Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town.” The lifeless ad drew immediate criticism and was hailed as racist among consumers, civil rights leaders/organizations, and most importantly–Campbell herself. Not only was Campbell “shocked and hurt to see her name next to the chocolate bar,” (Daily Reporter, 2011) but felt that being likened to a chocolate bar was in “poor taste on [many] levels” (TheGuardian). Campbell shamed the ad as an “insult to black women” (TheGuardian). Cadbury, who initially defended the ad, citing its creative inspiration with a “tongue-in-cheek play on her reputation for diva-style tantrums,” (TheGuardian) denied that Campbell’s skin color and ethnicity played any factor. Nevertheless, their explanation did not appease the public or civil rights organizations who called for an apology and boycott of Cadbury, which forced Cadbury (who initially refused) to issue an apology to Campbell, her family, and consumers–later pulling the ad.

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Cadbury’s controversial ‘Drumming Gorilla’ ad (2007). photo: theguardian

As the old saying goes: ‘this ain’t their first rodeo!’ That said, I find Cadbury’s apology to be disingenuous. Even if their claim to “poke fun” at Campbell’s “diva” tantrums is true, the word diva itself is a sexist, misogynistic term, used to describe a woman who is demanding, hard to work with, temperamental and superior. Furthermore, was Campbell the only celebrity making headlines for bad behavior? According to FOX News, and US Weekly Magazine, the majority of 2010 and 2011’s biggest celebrity meltdowns were by white men. So why did Cadbury choose to target Campbell specifically? Furthermore, why was her behavior significant enough to warrant a national advertising campaign as opposed to other celebrities? Lastly, how did the connotation of the tagline connect with other sociohistorical themes and stereotypes?

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Cadbury’s attempt to publicly apologize to Campbell in yet another ad.  photo: theguardian

Historically and in present day society, dark colored chocolate is associated with wickedness and impurity; whereas white chocolate is associated with goodness and purity. This is a historical perception that is deified in racism. In the Bliss Bar ad, the chocolate bar is surrounded by white diamonds and a bright-colored background. I believe the imagery was created to distract from the dark, wicked perception of chocolate in contrast with what is acceptable and desirable. In another equally racist and misogynistic chocolate advertisement which appeared in the British editions of women’s global magazines: African women with dark chocolate skin were pictured with a tagline themed “women with attitude,” (Leissle, p. 124) despite the fact that there was no “attitude” upon their countenance. In a world dominated by white men, women have historically been objectified to sell products. However, women of color are usually typecast with themes of negativity or aggression, while white women are cast as well-mannered, welcoming and desirable.

As women of color, there is also a deeper, complex issue that factors into racism: colorism. In colorism, people of color with lighter skin are perceived as more favorable and desirable; where people of darker skin are perceived as less favorable, undesirable and aggressive. These false stereotypes carry deep ancestral history. Although Campbell’s public persona may have contributed to the Bliss Bar ad, the narrative was intended to objectify her skin color and ethnicity in a way that was unfavorable and undesirable.

 

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My version of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Bliss Bar advertisement. Inclusion.

In my advertisement, I create an invitation for the world to be introduced to the Bliss Bars new flavours. I intentionally excluded all references to race, sex and ethnicity for the purposes of objectifying our common love and desire for chocolate. By choosing to focus on our commonalities and shared love for chocolate, we all feel included. My wish for Cadbury is that they eliminate the racial undertones and narratives of their advertisements. Thereby, choosing to task themselves in becoming aware and sensitized to why people of color feel exploited, humiliated and dehumanized by their advertisements. Inasmuch, their most racially offensive ads have been created by an agency, Fallon, who clearly lacks sensitivity to racist connotations, imagery and historical context. Maybe therein lies an arrogant resistance to humility and responsibility. Perhaps Cadbury should allow Campbell to stay… and invite Fallon to ‘move over.’ Permanently.

 

Works cited

Daily Mail Reporter: Cadbury apologizes to Naomi Campbell over ‘racist’ advert that compared her to chocolate. June 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393982/Cadbury-apologises-Naomi-Campbell-racist-advert-compared-chocolate.html

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Cosmopolitan Journal of African Cultural Studies. 24.2, 121-139.

Mark Sweeney: Cadbury apologizes to Naomi Campbell over ‘racist’ ad.  TheGuardian. June 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/jun/03/cadbury-naomi-campbell-ad

 

 

Satirizing Problematic Axe Chocolate Advertisements

In many forms of advertising, women are frequently portrayed in erotic, stereotypical ways to sell products. One scholar argues that commercials from many industries, such as skin care, clothing, and tobacco, among others, show women “as things or mere sex objects” and reinforce images of both physical and emotional “weakness” in women (Cohan 323-327). These spots use women in revealing clothing, often with sexual facial expressions and body positions, to sell their goods by capitalizing on viewers’ desires. While some of these marketing campaigns have been attacked as unethical (Zhou and Chen 492), they remain ubiquitous in the promotion of chocolate, leaving viewers increasingly desensitized to their existence. For our advertisement, Nancy Liu, Alison Stein, and I decided to satirize the Axe Chocolate Body Spray campaign (AXEvip). We replaced chocolate with a food less frequently depicted as sexual: pasta. By mimicking the erotic chocolate images, our ad illustrates how abnormal and problematic these concepts should appear for all types of food.

Among sexualized commercials, chocolate campaigns are often some of the most egregious, depicting women losing control of their emotions and bodies when faced with the sweet. As shown by Professor Martin, these ads reinforce patriarchal stereotypes by having men provide chocolate for the women in their lives, show women going through mood swings between rage and ecstasy while eating chocolate, and portray women in sexual, revealing, almost orgasmic positions after consuming the food (Martin).

One advertisement for M&Ms called “Devour” depicts one woman warning an M&M that Kristin “can’t control herself around chocolate” and will “devour” the human-like M&Ms. Later, Red the M&M leaves the party with Kristin, who is dragging Red forcefully away (Big Game Ads). Although seemingly light-hearted, this advertisement portrays Kristin losing her mind, willing to eat someone who, in this commercial’s universe, appears to be an accepted member of society because of her overwhelming desire for chocolate. These types of television spots reinforce the stereotype that women are irrational, particularly when dealing with chocolate.

In the troubling Axe Dark Temptation Body Spray campaign, women in the ad chase after a man who, in women’s eyes at least, has become a human piece of chocolate after using the deodorant. The women lose their minds, licking him in the movie theatre, eating the chocolate on his butt while on the bus, crowding gym windows just to get a sight of him, and ripping off his arm while on the street (AXEvip). These depictions of women losing control in response to the mere scent of the chocolate spray reinforce stereotypes that women are mentally weak. Thus, when near chocolate, they can neither control themselves, nor can they differentiate between chocolate consumption and sexual desires. The advertisement also treats women as sex objects governed by their carnal desires. No matter what they happen to be doing when the man appears, they are happy to dismiss their obligations to follow him.

By depicting women in this sexualized way, the commercial exploits the desires of its male customer base, who largely wish to attract women. Were it not for the stereotypes associated with chocolate, such as the response of overpowering desire and sexuality in women, the spray would never have been made. Thus, the deodorant exploits and reinforces the same concerning depictions discussed above, which are crucial for its existence.

The spot also displays multiple other upsetting tropes. As is common in advertisements about love, heterosexuality dominates the commercial with only male-female attraction. The spot also perpetuates problematic images of race. When the unenthused white man becomes a human chocolate, he immediately gains wide eyes and an exaggerated smile with pearly white teeth common in stereotypical depictions of black people. His gift of a chocolate hand to the woman in the hospital is also troubling given the history of this confection, which is related to the hands of African slaves cut off as punishment by Belgians on Congolese rubber plantations (Martin). Although these images add to the problematic nature of the commercial, we decided to focus on the gender aspects discussed above.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.32.58 PM
AXE Pasta – By Nancy Liu, Alison Stein, and Jared Cowan

In our ad, we have replaced the chocolate spray with a “pasta” version. The woman in the flier has lost control over herself while eating the food, getting the sauce all over her clothes and face. Like the depictions of chocolate, the woman has been overpowered by her desire to consume the pasta. The vaguely phallic nature of the spaghetti noodle in her mouth adds to the carnal nature of the image. We then decided to mock the slogans used in the Axe ads with our own pasta slogan, “Bring out the carb-lover in her.” Much like the chocolate Axe commercial, we have sought to exploit the male desire to attract women by referencing the theoretical idea that the scent of pasta is also overwhelming. Because of the abnormality of this depiction, the sexualized image of pasta is uncomfortable and almost comedic. Unlike chocolate, sexualized pasta images are not so common that they go unnoticed by society. Thus, it becomes easier to see the problematic nature of the erotic and ditzy depiction of this woman and to then apply these ideas to the disappointing chocolate ads.

By satirizing the chocolate commercial, our odd pasta image makes the troubling nature of chocolate marketing clear and seeks to remove this “societal blindspot” (Martin). In much of advertising over the past three decades, companies have sought to complicate stereotypical depictions of women, which has resulted in slow improvements around the world (Sheehan 91-6). As discussed by Professor Martin, however, the discourse surrounding chocolate lags behind that of other areas because we are desensitized (Martin). Thus, we need to continue to expose these worrying advertisements that are much too prevalent in the chocolate industry.

Works Cited

  1. New AXE Dark Temptation Commercial (US). 2008. Film.
  2. Big Game Ads. M&M Brown – Super Bowl Commercial | M&M Red – Big Game Commercial | Devour. 2014. Film.
  3. Cohan, John Alan. “Towards a New Paradigm in the Ethics of Women’s Advertising.” Journal of Business Ethics4 (2001): 323–337. Print.
  4. Martin, Carla. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” AAAS-119X. Harvard University Cambridge, MA. 2016. Lecture.
  5. Sheehan, Kim Bartel. Controversies in Contemporary Advertising. SAGE Publications, 2013. books-google-com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.
  6. Zhou, Nan, and Mervin Y. T. Chen. “A Content Analysis of Men and Women in Canadian Consumer Magazine Advertising: Today’s Portrayal, Yesterday’s Image?” Journal of Business Ethics5 (1997): 485–495. Print.

Reframing the Golden Moment: Analyzing Sexual Tone in Godiva Chocolate Ads

Luxury chocolate has historically been sold and advertised to wealthy, white, female consumers. The class connotations of chocolate advertisements from companies like Cadbury, Ferrero Rocher and Godiva use luxurious settings and beautiful well-dressed white women in ecstasy to capitalize on the implications of wealth as well as the association of chocolate and female pleasure. This Godiva Ad, featuring said beautiful white woman and a “golden moment”, plays into the ubiquitous advertising tropes discussed above. By using an innuendo for orgasm and a sophisticated model, the ad suggests that the woman consuming Godiva luxury chocolate is something to aspire to not just because of the trappings of her class but also because of the pleasure she’s able to attain. In pushing back on this ad, I suggest that every woman’s “Golden Moment” is not a sexual climax but rather any good feeling. The hope of this original ad is to dispel the notion that chocolate is pleasurable because it is like sex for women; the pleasure of chocolate does not need to be sexualized because of the subject’s gender.

godiva1
The ad in question is one of many that feature women, often as “Godiva Divas” indulging in chocolate and basking in the afterglow of having consumed Godiva products. 

Any close reading of an ad for Godiva Chocolate would be required to start at the very branding of the luxury chocolate. In its very name the company draws on historical associations with female sexuality through Lady Godiva, the nude noblewoman on horseback. The small, stylized logo in the bottom left-hand corner evokes the lady in question but most prominently features the company name “Godiva”. This subtle inclusion of branding in an ad that features a mostly clothed woman, albeit in bed, strengthens the tie between the chocolate and female sexuality that is essential to the ad’s messaging.

godiva outline
An enlarged version of the stylized logo shows in more detail and underlines the importance of the Lady Godiva legend in the branding of their chocolate – just the outline of a nude breast is the subtle connection between Godiva Chocolate and female sexuality that runs through all of their branding. 

The next important feature of this ad is the subject—the woman lying in bed. While the setting of the ad will be discussed later, the woman herself is an important piece of understanding the intent and result of the ad. This woman, much like the white women historically featured in Rowntree Ads (Robertson 28), represents aspirational upper-class whiteness, suggesting that to consume luxury goods like she does is a right reserved for the wealthy. The styling of her clothes, face and hair reinforce this notion as she is in a form fitting, sophisticated black dress with glamorous eye makeup. Her hair is styled to make it look effortless and slightly tousled but beautiful, reflecting the ease of her elegant lifestyle. These aspects of her styling also are sexually suggestive—the dress is cut to frame her breasts with a sweetheart neckline and the same effortless and tousled look is evocative of post-coital bed head. The pose in the bed and also against the pillow strengthens again the association between this ad and female sexuality, placing the subject of the ad in a pose and place evocative of sex.

The discussion of setting is brief only because the major setting of the ad is in a well-appointed bedroom. As discussed above, the fact that this woman is in bed is evocative, almost purely, of sex. Settings like this are not unique, with ads featuring bedrooms, bathrooms, and bathtubs are almost ubiquitous in the luxury chocolate marketing world. The sexual implications of these places are clear and they endow each ad with a sensuality that chocolate companies have long exploited to sell chocolate. The additional implications of this setting are class related. The major feature of the furniture in the bedroom is the beautiful tufted headboard in the background. While the recognition of the design value of a headboard as such has certain class implications, the mere fact of a headboard when many don’t have them at all puts the wealth of the subject on display, creating in addition to sexual implications, class implications for the consumption of Godiva chocolate.

new ad
The new ad pushes on the boundaries of class and race with a black family set without the trappings of wealth. The family aspect additionally pushes back on the sexualization of eating chocolate. 

In pushing back on this ad I hoped to do two things. First, I wanted to create “The Golden Moment” that had to do with pleasure or accomplishment that was not inherently or implicitly sexual. In creating this ad I wanted to find a “moment” accessible to women regardless of class. I chose to celebrate sharing chocolate with family in an ad whose “Golden Moment” is a smile between a grandmother and a granddaughter. The setting was also explicitly chosen to not reflect upper-class sensibilities as the focus. Much lik other campaigns that try to feature “unconventional models” for selling chocolate, the family here is American Black, giving Black Americans the opportunity to see themselves as the target consumer of the product (Leissle 135). Finally, instead of using the female silhouette logo created by Godiva, I opted instead for the logo used on Godiva products that includes only the name. This ad eliminates the use of female sexuality by positioning its subjects in a completely non-sexual situation and setting. This creates a new Golden Moment associated neither with sex nor with upper-class whiteness.

 

Works Cited

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

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.
Elliott, Stuart. “Godiva Rides in a New Direction.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
Images

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