While chocolate is a sweet delicacy enjoyed by millions around the world, the underlying forces of cacao production often leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths. After Europeans “discovered” chocolate in Mesoamerica, its dissemination in Europe relied on the forced labor of indigenous populations and later African slaves on cacao plantations. Slavery was abolished on paper in England in 1833. Yet, it persisted under new names from serviçal in Sao Tome e Principe to “worst forms of child labor” in Côte d’Ivoire. I will compare the response of two influential companies in the cocoa industry–Cadbury and Nestlé–when faced with evidence of forced labor in their cacao supply chain. While both companies’ actions are ultimately profit-driven, Cadbury took more legitimate actions to divest from forced labor than Nestlé, as the latter has yet to fully invest in ethically-sourced cacao.
William Cadbury’s awareness of forced labor in cacao plantations started with rumors of horrible work conditions in Sao Tome and Príncipe in 1901. At the time, Cadbury obtained 55% of its cacao from the area (Higgs 2012:9). He met with Portuguese authorities who assured him that new labour legislation addressed concerns of minimum wage (Satre 2005:23). Still, Cadbury commissioned Joseph Burtt in 1905 to investigate the work conditions in Sao Tome e Principe. Prior to Burtt’s return, Henry Nevinson published his investigative journalism in Harper’s Magazine in 1905.
Nevinson shed light on the forced labor of indentured servants (serviçal) in Sao Tome e Principe (Martin 2017). It was indistinguishable from slavery. Burtt returns in 1907, and his report supports Nevinson’s research. Yet, British authorities request Burtt revise his findings to assuage Portuguese authorities because Portuguese authorities were instrumental to British colonial interests in South Africa (Satre 2005: 76, 24). Up to then, Cadbury’s actions were behind the public eye. While the company researched forced labor and attempted to negotiate with both British and Portuguese authorities with no divestment in sight, their consumers continued purchasing their “guaranteed pure and soluble” cacao.
Nevinson persevered with his reporting and published “The Angola Slave Trade” in The Fornightly Review, which garnered a lot of publicity. Forced labor alarmed British consumers because although England had abolished slavery in 1833, they were still complicit to it. Slavery did not align itself with the Quaker values of the time. As consumers started demanding Cadbury take action, Cadbury takes a final trip to Sao Tome and Principe.
Upon his return, he convinces J.S. Fry and Rowntree, other British chocolatemakers to join him as Cadbury boycotts cacao production in Sao Tome and Principe. Presumably, Cadbury divests because of the continuous failed promises by the Portuguese government to ameliorate working conditions in both islands. While the Portuguese government was not intent on ending slavery in cacao production, Cadbury did not suddenly reach enlightenment in 1909. At the time of initial evidence of slavery in Sao Tome and Principe, Cadbury had no other sustainable source of cacao if it wanted to maintain its leading status amongst British consumers. A viable option was needed as the British confectionners turned to mainland West Africa. Hence, the boycott from its main source of cacao did not hurt Cadbury because during his backdoor negotiations with various stakeholders, cacao trees were being planted in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). From his visit to the Gold Coast in 1906 to the official boycott from Sao Tome’s cacao in 1909, cocoa harvest in the Gold Coast increased from 9004 to 20,534 metric tons (Grant 2005: 175). Therefore, in addition to being ethically sound, the move to the Gold Coast in 1909 was also business-proof.
A century later, big chocolate makers are still guilty of profiting from the fruits of forced labor in their supply chain. In 1998, A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted was published. The UNICEF report was one of the first to highlight evidence of child labor in West Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. Young people were often worked almost under horrible conditions: “the [Malian] boys had little to eat, slept in bunk-houses that were locked at night, and were frequently beaten. They had horrible sores on their backs and shoulders, some as a result of carrying the heavy bags of cocoa, but some likely the effects of physical abuse” (Off 2008: 121). Child labor in cacao farms in Côte d’Ivoire involves familial and contracted labor, often including human trafficking of children from neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. Such labor conditions violate the International Labor Organization (ILO) Minimum Age Convention and the ILO Forced Labour Convention (Schrage and Ewing 2005: 101-102).
Increasing media attention to such reports of child slavery pushed the cocoa industry to stop dawdling and take action because “the mistreatment of children posed a clear threat to corporate reputation and sales” (Schrage and Ewing 2005: 104). As the United States Congress began the legislative process of banning Ivorian cacao, the industry proposed a protocol to address the reports. In September 2001, the Chocolate Manufacters Association (CMA) and the World Cocoa Foundation signed the Protocol for the Growing and Processing of Cocoa Beans and their Derivative Products in a Manner that Complies with ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Chila Labor also known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol. Ever since its inception, the protocol has continuously been extended as chocolate companies fail to eradicate the worst form of child labor from their supply chain by their own deadlines. Many have critiqued the protocol as too lenient because a voluntary plan does not ensure the industry will be accountable.
Nestlé has undertook actions to adhere to the Harkin-Engel Protocol. The company joined the Global Issues Group (GIG), “an ad-hoc, pre-competitive association of cocoa industry participants formed in response to the agreements as spelled out in the Harkin-Engil Protocol” (Tulane research). Furthermore, Nestlé contracted UTZ Certified, a product certification organization, to be held accountable for its cacao consumption. In 2009, Nestlé established the Cocoa Plan. The hyperlinked video highlights the work of the Cocoa Plan in Côte d’Ivoire. Through the International Cocoa Initiative, the Cocoa Plan has built schools throughout Côte d’Ivoire in order to provide alternatives for children who were previously child laborers or could potentially be involved in cacao production.This iniative, among others, empowers local communities and seeks to reduce the prevalence of the “worst forms of child labor” in cacao production.In addition, Nestlé has supported further investigation into their cacao sourcing. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) conducted a thorough investigation of the company’s cacao supply chain, making it the first chocolate-maker to undertake such a process (CNN 2012). The FLA has continued these investigations, which attest to Nestlé’s investment in an ethical supply chain. Nestlé’s actions were in response to growing criticism. The company had to handle lawsuits and respond to documentaries about the persistence of forced labor in Côte d’Ivoire in order to appease its consumer base, who was demanding more accountability in the cacao supply chain.
Consumer demand for and consumption of ethically produced chocolate is highest in the United Kingdom. This trend explains why Kit Kat chocolate bars in the UK bear the Faitrade mark and Kit Kat chocolate bars in Germany do not. While both bars have the Cocoa Plan logo, Nestlé reveals that it only purchases 14.5% of its cocoa through the Plan, of which 75% is either UTZ or Fairtrade-certified (Nestle 2013: 160). While Nestlé has taken steps to ethically source its cacao, this has only been for consumers who actively demand it.
Similar to Cadbury, Nestlé is acting in a profit-maximizing way. Ethics are secondary because the investment in the Cocoa Plan for all of its chocolate would not be be as profitable beyond the UK. Unlike Cadbury, Nestlé has unfortunately not significantly addressed the Protocol because shared responsibility with other big chocolatemakers and lack of significant consumer demand diffuse the pressure to immediately conform.
Cadbury’s Advert with Rower 1885. 2010. Wikimedia Commons
With a 4000-year history, beginning in Central America with the Mesoamericans, the tradition of drinking chocolate has evolved immensely over the years. Chocolate was mainly enjoyed as a drink for almost nine-tenths of its history, but today we mostly think of chocolate in its solid form. It’s transformation has taken place from a luxury, within the reach of only royalty and wealthy elites, to being mass-produced, sugary, sweet, containing little to no cacao at all. The spicy, bitter, foamy xocolatl once associated only with decadence and luxury has now been relegated to a sweetened, inferior product by the industry, severely diminishing its place in society.
From as early as 1000 BCE, chocolate was a sacred, invaluable, refreshing, exotic and even a magical beverage. For the Mesoamericans, the drink went far beyond the health benefits and the aphrodisiac qualities that many of us have come to associate with chocolate. The ceremonial, pleasurable, elite drink was used to show high hospitality; served only to lords, the wealthy and the revered merchants and considered to be “an ambrosia from the rich and exotic lands of Anahuac, not something to wash down one’s food [with]”(Coe & Coe, 95). This drink was a powerful elixir with its exotic flavorings and prized foam, famous amongst the rulers, warriors and explorers alike. It was considered sacred during marriages, nourishing for militaries, sacrificial in religious ceremonies and an after-dinner drink that was enjoyed with smoking tubes of tobacco (Coe & Coe, 95). Such high status and social stratum, evident throughout the history of the Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs, earned the chocolate drink a special prestige in society and its ultimate spread into Europe. Curious and eager to adopt, the Spaniards carried the tradition of drinking chocolate into the Iberian Peninsula.
Assimilating to the New World culture and slowly developing a taste for the bitter chocolate drink, the Spaniards maintained the elevated status associated with the drink. Mesmerized by an elaborate process of fermenting, roasting, winnowing and finally crushing the cacao nibs to form chocolate liquor, the Spaniards adopted the entire routine to preserve the originality and prestige of the drink. The delicate preparation of the final beverage, which was dissolved in water, mixed with varieties of spices, and poured from one container to another to achieve highly prized foam made the drink suitable only for the Spanish elites. Marcy Norton clearly establishes the illustriousness and admiration for the drink:
“Drinking chocolate was a complex somatic experience for pre- Columbian and colonial Indians. The emphasis put on flower spices, the frothy foam, the special drinking vessels, and the requisite reddish hue shows that chocolate was valued not only for its effects on the taste buds, but also for the stimulation of the olfactory, tactile, visual, and affective senses. “ (Norton, 675)
The elaboration and meticulousness associated with the preparation of the drink allowed the Spaniards, among other factors, to overcome their revulsion for the bitter drink. The addition of spices and exotic flavorings further added to the appeal of drinking chocolate and encouraged the Spaniards to assimilate the drink into their culture.
Knowing no other way, the Spaniards adopted the entire paraphernalia associated with the Mesoamerican way of preparing and consuming the stimulant chocolate beverage. The use of achiote for sensory pleasures, j ́ıcara for sipping the chocolate and molinillo for frothing it, all came to be accepted and prized by the Spaniards as a way to enjoy drinking chocolate (Norton, 683). The Spaniards maintained the entire sensory experiences and embraced the various spices ranging from Tlixochitl, mecaxo ́chitl, achiote, chili peppers, and Xochinacaztli (Norton, 672). Each version of the drink prepared with these various spices elevated the complexity and prestige of the final drink. However, over the course of time, the New World spices were increasingly replaced by Old World and Oriental spices like cinnamon, black pepper, anise, rose and sesame (Norton, 684). The replacements of the New World spices and flavorings, to stimulate the European taste, took away what was essentially centuries old ways of consuming and enjoying chocolate. The new wave of seasonings and later, the replacement of honey with large amounts of sugar further deviated the drink from its sacred, exotic image to an inferior, affordable and heavily sugared beverage.
The desire to sweeten chocolate in many ways led to the massive imports of tropical commodities like sugar. Much like cacao, initially revered as a spice afforded only by the rich, sugar was a prized tropical commodity for several centuries. It wasn’t until the 19th century when the free trade movement led to a sharp decline in sugar prices leading to mass affordability. The English welcomed the sweetening of “coffee, chocolate, and tea [which] became customary […] because they were bitter as well as unfamiliar” (Mintz, 137). The Spaniards, similar to the English, began increasingly sweetening their beverages to suit their taste buds. This explosive consumption of sugar took hold among all sectors of the society and the chocolate drink slowly began its decline to eventually being reduced only to a heap of sugar.
Fueled by colonialism, this heavy intake of sugar in stimulant drinks changed the entire landscape for tropical commodities and paved the way to industrialization. As Sidney Mintz argues that tea, coffee, and chocolate beverages, along with sugar, helped to fuel industrialization (Mintz, 186) and as Norton says, “Atlantic commerce directly fueled the peculiar European dynamism that culminated in the Industrial Revolution” (Norton, 665). Out of this revolution, various machines and processes were invented that changed forever the way chocolate was consumed. Creations like the Melangur and Van Houten’s “Dutching” process gave rise to a new era of chocolate making. The 1828 invention essentially defatted the chocolate liquor to a point where the resulting product contained only 28 percent cacao (Coe, 234) and left behind a “mass or a cake that could easily dissolve in water to make a chocolate drink ” (“Cocoa Dolce”). This alkalized Dutch treatment of the cacao nibs although improved the chocolate powder’s miscibility in water, it took away the complex aromatic flavors associated with the cacao beans that produce good quality drinking chocolate. The era of industrialization ushered the invention of the easily prepared and digestible drink, which gradually dethroned the once revered thick, foamy, exotic beverage.
The massive advances in technology, industrialization and cacao farming led to a dramatic fall in price of cocoa and cocoa powder. Giant industries like Fry’s, Cadbury and Rowntree “made possible the large-scale manufacture of cheap chocolate for the masses” (Coe, 235). Industrialization and the availability of cheap, bulk cacao made chocolate affordable and popular; however the chocolate produced this way lacked complexity and depth of flavor. And so, it was made palatable only with the addition of “sugar and other spices like cinnamon and perfumes” (Sciscenti). As sugar started flooding the European market “more sugar was added and the spices were stripped away until it arrived at its classic American incarnation: sugary sweet, thin and without much actual cocoa” (Sciscenti). As a result, the chocolate drink, saturated with sugar and removed of all exotic New World spices, was now a far-fetched cry from the original drink of the Mesoamericans or even the Spaniards adaptation.
Recent years have seen an even greater increase in sugar consumption. Statistics show that “200 years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, Americans ate 123 pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year” (Martin). Mass affordability of sugar has exasperated the problem. Labels on nearly every food item show sugar as a main ingredient and chocolate drinks have not escaped this trend. In fact, the tremendous amount of sugar added helps the manufactures mask the flavor off-notes of poor quality cacao. In comparison, as cacao is naturally bitter and acidic, the typical sugar content in a chocolate bar can range from 0-40%. While this is normal to please our palates, an unwholesome amount of sugar with little to no cocoa content in chocolate drinks has become the norm. For example, Nestlé’s Nesquik chocolate powder contains 78.5% or 11g of sugar per serving with only 2% of cacao processed with alkali (“Nesquik Powder Chocolate 9.3 Oz”). Nestle is a global brand leader in chocolate drinks and its popularity only demonstrates a trend towards lowering the chocolate drink to a heap of sugar. The sugar combined with the alkali process further demotes the product by severely mellowing the chocolate taste. The alkali process saps the flavonoids off of the chocolate drink, forcing the manufacturers to enhance the taste by introducing more sugar. This vicious cycle has not only offered a substandard taste to the drink but has also become the culprit to various health problems.
In recent years, despite heavy criticism, Nesquik and its competitors have only seen a boost in their sales and will continue to see so. According to the Euromonitor’s International data, Nestlé alone is “predicted to generate around US$340 million sales in 2015-2019” (Lee, 2015). While many reasons provide explanation for this trend, the most frequently used is the addition of sugar helps children drink more milk and “build strong bones, one glass at a time” (Hein). Although the added sugar in Nesquik chocolate milk drink inches towards the daily recommendation by the WHO, a few organizations have said flavored milk increases milk consumption in children (Hein). However, this is not a solution to encourage milk consumption; instead it is an exploitation of children’s natural affinities to sugar, whose increased consumption has only led to a widespread obesity endemic and early onset of diabetes. Nestlé and other companies have hence played a huge role in degrading the chocolate drink by promoting it as a healthy milk product and as a result have encouraged consumption of excess sugar, unhealthy eating habits, and poor nutrition.
To further understand this trend, we must look towards the role of advertising in reducing the chocolate drink to what it has become. In the 1930s and 40s, children featured prominently in ads “all growing stronger through drinking cocoa” (Robertson, 39). Characters like Honeybunch and Coco, although representing a wider context of racial discrimination, were invented to greatly influence children and heed upon the philosophies of cradle to grave loyalty. In Rowntree cocoa’s case, such ads, campaigns and invention of lovable characters were used to “add a psychological value inseparable from Rowntree’s brand of cocoa, to an extent that they will exert pressure on the mother [to buy the product]” (Robertson, 41). These ‘special mascots’ in advertisements create brand loyalty amongst children and places an immense pressure over parents to buy these drinks under the pretense of boosting milk consumption.
Rowntree’s cocoa ad with Honeybunch
Nesquik’s popularity is largely in part to the ‘Quicky’ bunny character that has enchanted so many young children and has helped Nestle build a brand loyalty. Similar to Rowntree’s Honeybunch and Coco, Quicky personifies the Nestle brand and helps in portraying the product as nutritious and healthy. The “physically active [and] energetic” (Daneshkhu) Quicky has been able to capture children’s imaginations as an animated character promoting health benefits and good nutritional habits. However, despite Quicky’s endorsements, chocolate remains a drink laden with sugar, and only a few traces of cocoa. It promotes no nutritional value, offers dull taste and flavor and is a far cry from what once used to be a healthy, wholesome nutritious drink of the Mesoamerican elites.
To promote the “healthy” cocoa drink and to increase profits, chocolate manufacturers, in the mid to late twentieth century decided to cover a broader range of the population and extend the advertisements to target women. Companies like Rowntree and Cadbury used advertisements to help women express cultural identity and gain social meaning (Robertson, 19). A woman was considered savvy, thoughtful, caring and clever if she unfailingly fed her family cocoa, thereby fulfilling her social role in the society. In fact, the big chocolate manufacturers successfully used cocoa to portray women as “both the devoted mother (a demonstration of maternal love), and the savvy housewife (economical, efficient, nutritious)” (Robertson, 21). The focus around efficiency grew and chocolate soon became an instant hot cocoa mix, which a mother can easily prepare for her child without supposedly losing its nutritional value. The specific targeting of the cocoa drink to women thus allowed companies to falsely advertise a much inferior ‘fast food’ chocolate as a wholesome invention.
The cocoa manufacturers continued to capitalize on the ever-changing conditions of the twentieth century and altered strategies in order to appeal to a higher social class of consumers. They revived the luxury associated with chocolate by advertising in social magazines and newspapers, which were read presumably by socially aspiring classes. Robertson clearly highlights this:
To lend even greater sophistication to the product, the advertising copy then emphasized that [the] cocoa was on a par with that tasted on the Continent: ‘Once it was a fixed belief that to drink chocolate at its best you had to drink it in Paris. Now…you can make at home a pot of chocolate worthy of a cordon bleu.’ (Robertson, 26).
This luxury appeal and ‘aspirational’ consumption of a pleasurable commodity, over time, came to be associated more with chocolate assortments in various different connotations. Despite the advertising efforts of promoting a domesticated, wholesome, nutritious, healthy product, the chocolate drink, in reality, underwent no such transformation and instead continued to be targeted to kids and be cheaply manufactured.
To understand the sugar epidemic in chocolate drinks, it is important to look at the sourcing practices. From the beginnings in São Tomé and Príncipe, big chocolate companies have had questionable cacao sourcing practices. They have ignored the problem of child slavery and exploitation of farmers for many decades and still continue to do so. A recent lawsuit against the big chocolate companies revealed how the practice of sourcing cacao from West Africa still uses child slave labor. Despite the establishment of the Harkin-Engel protocol, the big chocolate companies have shown little to no improvement in their practices. Nestle for its part, founded the Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan in 2013 which is now the primary source for its products and chocolate drinks but it falls short in “involving the communities affected, supporting women and children by paying living wages, and helping consumers to clearly understand the food supply chain” (Hoffman). Millions of farmers and laborers who are providing us with a precious raw commodity are still living in poverty and the lack of capital has not only led to poor standards of living but also stagnant farming practices. With no invention, technology, education of sustainable farming or familiarization with the taste of the cacao produced, the chocolate used in these chocolate drinks will continue to be of low quality.
However, there is hope for the revered drink to make a comeback. In the past decade or so, a few artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate makers are changing the tide in favor of ethically sourced, good quality beans to make superior cocoa for drinking chocolate. One of those companies leading the trend is Escazu. Their micro batch bars made entirely on a small scale with ancient equipment provides a strong contrast to the richer, sweeter American-style cocoa produced on an industrial scale by the big chocolate companies. Escazu has even gone as far as reinventing a recipe from 1631, which they believe to be one of the first chocolate drinking recipes to be published. They have modernized this drink by using “whole spices to steep the drinking chocolates, which are made with hot water, like a strong tea, as opposed to milk-based American cocoas. The beverages are strained and frothed with the steam spigot of an espresso machine just before serving” (Lucas). Escazu is demonstrating to consumers and its peers that chocolate drinks can be complex and innovative. For such small companies, this is a very expensive endeavor and to take drinking chocolate to this level shows the commitment and dedication to revive the chocolate drinking culture.
Another artisanal chocolate maker at the forefront of drinking chocolates is Taza. Far from the imagery of Oompa-Loompa’s and chocolate rivers, this 100 percent bean-to-bar company has aimed for a more grown up image and taste (Thornell). It achieves this by adding low amounts of sugar, and by grinding “its cacao beans in traditional Mexican molinos, hand-carved stone mills”(Thornell). This anciently adapted process makes Taza different. The distinct gritty mouth feel of the chocolate requires a more mature palate and an acquired taste. Much like Escazu, due to their better sourcing and innovative use of ancient techniques, they are able to keep the sugar content low, raise the complexity of flavors and therefore elevate this drink. This experience encourages consumers to familiarize and immerse themselves in a new chocolate world.
These companies show that there can be a bright future for the art of crafting drinking chocolate. The industry can evolve to bring back flavor and respect that chocolate, as a drink deserves. It is not necessary to be forced onto the technologies of the industrialization era but instead tools should be developed on bringing flavor, complexity and richness to the masses. Sugar is a great ingredient that is still needed but the industry must realize the impact of sugar on our society. Innovative solutions to reduce sugar consumptions while providing a great product must be thought of collectively. The effort the industry needs to make must involve out of the box solutions that address taste, affordability and sustainability.
The aim of an advert is to promote a product and entice people to buy it. Marketing companies use people’s desires and emotions to promote products. However, in attempt to attract the largest audience, they often appeal to the general population and use social norms and stereotypes to advertise. For example, the vast majority of chocolate advertisements are targeted at women because women are stereotyped to consume vastly more chocolate than men, even though research has proven otherwise. Mintel found that females only consume 4% more chocolate than males (CNN; Mintel 2010; Mintel 2014). This is a surprising statistic. Many people expect a larger difference since advertisements have fostered the stereotype that women eat more chocolate than men. With advertisements present on televisions, billboards, the internet, magazines, newspapers, taxis, supermarkets, public transport, and many more places, it is estimated that each person is exposed to 3,000 advertisements per day (Johnson; Story). Therefore, problematic social beliefs are affirmed daily, as we are exposed to thousands of advertisements that perpetuate stereotypical representations of social norms. Therefore, even if an advert is based on a small idea, with daily exposure it becomes a stereotype, and the young next generation are fed these stereotypes and social norms such that they no longer see them as ideas but as truth. Thus, marketers have a huge influence and power on creating or affirming society’s beliefs. Therefore, marketers must be conscious of the message they send out as they advertise their products.
The Original Dove Advertisement
In 2007 the marketers of Dove were not careful with their advertising power and released the advert below. This advertisement is built on many troublingly social beliefs and is discriminative.
Firstly, Dove has completely sexualised men here. They centred and enlarged the abs to fill the entire advertisement, blurred out the sides and background, increased the shadow under each ab, and increased the light reflected off of each ab. This highlights and make us focus only on the muscle and its definition, as if that is the only thing that is important. The human body has many components: emotional, spiritual, mental, physical, and intellectual components. Even physically the human body has many parts and yet Dove chose to show only the male’s abdominal muscles. This promotes a superficial attitude towards men and degrades them to being an aesthetic pleasure, something of only physical worth.
Furthermore, Dove does not only degrade men to a physical body but even more so, their choice to use of a man of colour degrades black men to an object. Dove has used the racist social construct that as Caucasians are to vanilla, Hispanics are to caramel, and Asians are to butterscotch, blacks are to chocolate. Their use of a black model and dim enticing sexual lighting shows that Dove is fostering the idea that while whiteness symbolises ideas of cleanliness, purity, dullness, and blandness, blackness denotes themes of dirt, sin, extreme sexuality, and interest. Therefore, the lack of use of the model’s face and the use of the model’s skin colour to compare him as chocolate represents the disrespectful degradation of black men from a person to an object – a chocolate bar that is worth roughly one dollar.
From the small text at the bottom of the advertisement we see that the intended audience of this advert is a girl. The first issue is that Dove promotes heterosexual relationships and excludes homosexuals. Therefore Dove has tagged along and helped grow one of the biggest problems in chocolate advertising today – extremely frequently, only heterosexual relationships are used to sell chocolate. This Nestlé compilation video shows three examples of such exclusion towards those who are in the minority and are not heterosexually oriented.
Dove’s advert is not only sexist and discriminates against men, but their specific wording fosters common stereotypes that surround women too. The word “melts” plays on and encourages the idea that women are overly emotional and irrational over chocolate and muscles, so much so that their most vital organ will melt after one look at a six-pack and a taste of Dove’s chocolate. Additionally, the use of the word “girl’s” instead of “woman’s” is demeaning because it suggests that in this heterosexual relationship the male is superior and the female is inferior. All in all, Dove’s wording suggests that men are more dominant and in control, which promotes a patriarchal social construct and prevents us from moving towards a gender equal society.
The Recreated Advertisement
To show that it is possible to advertise chocolate without fostering disrespectful social norms, being racist, sexist, or excluding people, I have recreated Dove’s chocolate advert below.
The primary goal of an advertisement is to promote the product that you are trying to sell. Unlike in Dove’s advertisement, chocolate is clearly the product here. It is at the centre. It is large. It is clear. In Dove’s advert “Dove chocolate” was finely printed at the bottom and the tiny chocolate bar and pieces were in the lower bottom right corner. Previously, only if you looked closely could you have been able to tell that it was an advertisement for chocolate.
Furthermore, the recreated advert has moved away from promoting social norms. Since a six-piece chocolate bar has replaced the previously racialised and sexualised six-pack, the advert no longer degrades a person to their physique, nor to an object. The recreated advert also includes numerous races and people of different ethnicities so that the advertisement is neither exclusive nor racist. The ideas of a patriarchal society, overly emotional and irrational woman, and the exclusion of non-heterosexuals have been removed. Instead, the audience has opened up to be all-inclusive as the recreated advertisement plays on the idea that chocolate is fundamentally social: The Maya word “chokola’j”, a potential source for our Spanish and English word for chocolate today, means “to drink chocolate together” (S. D. Coe and M. D. Coe 61).
Marketing companies need to be more conscious about the methods they use to promote their products. There is no problem in promoting products to inform potential consumers what they might want to purchase; however, this should be done in a way that does not exclude, racialise, sexualise, discriminate, or degrade people or communities, or affirm or encourage the growth of disrespectful social norms. A safer way to ensure moral marketing is to keep the adverts focused on the product itself – what it can do, its purpose, and why it is worth purchasing. This will help prevent the fostering of disrespectful stereotypes and social norms and enable us to be a progressive society.
Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination on the basis of sex run rampant in advertisements we see today (Martin). This trend is apparent especially in the marketing of chocolate products. Since the early days of chocolates history the consumption of chocolate in the west has been feminised and this feminisation of chocolate has made its way into chocolate advertisements (Robertson, 20). There are many trends in which gender is represented in chocolate advertisements such as the fetishisation of women as housewives and mothers, the gendered discourse of class, the narratives of heterosexual romance, and the depiction of women as irrational narcissistic consumers, to name a few that are discussed in Chocolate, women and empireby Emma Robertson. Lucy Kosimar conducted research on gendered advertising and found that “advertising is an insidious propaganda machine for a male supremacist society. It spews out images of women as sex mates, housekeepers, mothers and menial workers — images that perhaps reflect the true status of most women in society, but which also make it increasingly difficult for women to break out of the sexist stereotypes that imprison them,” which is in line with our discussion in lecture and what we see in chocolate advertising today (Komisar, 304). The advertisement that Anne Maguire and I chose to use for this assignment exhibits the gendered advertising trends that we have learned about in lectures and readings that I mentioned above.
The advertisement we chose is a print ad for Kit Kat, a chocolate product of Hershey in the United States (pictured above) and Nestle globally (Grasso). This global ad was produced in Italy according to our source. With the slogans “one-minute break” and “have a break,” this ad alludes to taking a quick break during a busy day to indulge in a satisfying Kit Kat. The use of the word “break” also relates to how you break a bar off the Kit Kat when you consume it. Although the slogans work well with the ad, the framing of the model in this ad is quite problematic. The woman in the ad is in workwear attire sitting in a chair as an invisible desk where she seems to be working on an invisible computer. If you look closely you’ll see on the left side of the ad in very small print that the ad is inspired by the “One Minute Sculptures” of Erwin Wurm. Written small on the side, casual readers might not see the blurb or understand the reference and they might question why this woman is at an invisible desk. Furthermore, the work that this woman is doing at her desk is very secretarial, which makes the ad even more problematic as this type of work is very stereotypical for women in the workplace. The woman in this kit kat ad is not portrayed as a strong business woman doing worthwhile work, instead she is portrayed as doing menial work at her invisible desk. This is similar to our discussion in class about the problematic depiction of bodies not brains (Youtube). In the Kit Kat ad the woman is dressed in a suggestive manner. Although she is wearing professional attire, what gained Anne’s and my attention is the slit on her skirt. The model has a very long slit up the front of her skirt. Although most professional business attire skirts are straight pencil skirts without slits, the woman here has a skirt with a long slit up the front of her skirt exposing most of her legs. Why do we need to see so much skin, this is an ad for chocolate isn’t it?!
The intended audience of this ad is women who have a quick break at work. The goal of this ad it to target these women- with this ad Nestle is hoping that this audience will consider having a Kit Kat during their one minute breaks at work. However, if business women are their intended audience, why would Nestle advertise an over sexualized woman who is not being shown as a dominant female force in the workplace? In re-creating this ad, Anne and I hoped to confront these objections.
In class we discussed the problematic depiction of bodies not brains in chocolate advertisements. In our ad Anne and I wanted to focus on the brains, not the body, of the woman in the ad. We also wanted to make sure to represent her as a determined, smart, and successful business woman. In our ad, pictured above, you can see that we replaced the invisible work environment with a real work environment. Our subject can be viewed as either exiting or entering a meeting room and is dressed more appropriately than the subject in the original ad. No longer do we see a skirt with an exaggerated slit up the front, now we see a woman dressed with minimal skin showing. We chose to add a message to the ad: “two perfect presentations down, two to go. Have a break, you earned it”. This message helps the ad call on the brains of the woman pictured and not her body. Instead of asking working women to take a break from doing their work at the computer to have a Kit Kat like the original ad asked, our ad is asking women to enjoy a quick Kit Kat break during a busy day filled with meetings and presentation. We better target the intended audience in our ad because we depict the working woman in a more favorable light in which she comes off as smart and important. It is surprising that this advertisement, just like so many other chocolate advertisements out there, use such negative depiction of women in their ads given the importance of women in the chocolate industry as consumers. In my opinion, the original ad is discriminatory against women and paints the company in an unfavorable light.
Grasso, Giuseppe. One-minute Break. Digital image. Kit Kat, n.d. Web.
Komisar, Lucy. The New Feminism. London: F. Watts, 1971. Print.
Martin, Carla. “Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” AFAM 119X. CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium S010, Cambridge. Lecture.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. 1-131. Print.
Cacao based products, as a commodity for Europe and North America, has historically been linked to the use of non free labor, and even today, exploitation of labor sources for profit continues to be standard practice. Many companies and organizations have committed themselves to a more ethical approach in the supply chain of their raw products, but slavery continues to exist as profit margins are prioritized over ethics. A practice solidified during the Middle Passage and is likely to continue unless there is a drastic overhaul in the harvest, production, or consumption of chocolate.
A labor intensive crop, the cacao plant requires intense manual labor for harvest. The demand for labor to farm and harvest the labor intensive crop, cocoa, grew alongside the increase in demand for chocolate by European and North American consumers. Since its initial discovery by the Spaniards who exploited Native American labour until they died of diseases introduced from Europe, the cocoa trade has continued to increase yield and profit through non free labor. The Middle Passage and the slave trade, used by Spain, France, Portugal, England, Holland, and Denmark to profit handsomely from buying African slaves with goods, using them to work the fields of the New World to produce luxury goods to sell in Europe and North America . The use of slave labor in the expansion of cocoa production, as well as other goods like sugar, rum, cotton, and tobacco, helped fuel the popularization of cocoa as it became more accessible to all, not just the elite, in the 19th century .
Despite bans of slave labor since the days of the Middle Passage, pockets of slavery continued to flourish while those freed were thrust into lives of poverty and disadvantage. Cadbury Chocolate, a successful Quaker chocolate maker who gained prominence in the 1860s in England, learned of the use of slave labor on cacao plantations in Sao Tome, and took nearly 10 years to take measurable action against the unethical sourcing of their raw materials . Today, these issues continue to persist and much attention has been paid, recently, to West Africa, where child labor and trafficking in connection to cacao farming is commonly practiced to supply labor as cacao prices for farmers drops. The Ivory Coast and Ghana are two countries where this is most prevalent, and the Ivory Coast alone supplies nearly 40% of the world’s forastero cacao . In the wake of an expose by BBC in 2000, United States congress attempted to introduce legislation to create a “no child labor” certification that was vehemently opposed by the chocolate industry . A compromise was struck and major companies signed The Engel-Harkin Protocol, a pledge to investigate and eliminate slave practices that failed to produce any results . CNN also produced a documentary in 2014 (see trailer below or watch full length documentary here) as part of their Freedom Project that that discussed the “Cocoa-nomics” behind the chocolate industry and its prevalence for nonfree labor . In 2015, a group of consumers filed a suit against Nestle, Hershey’s, and Mars for failing to advertise the use of slavery in the production of their products, duping consumers into supporting unethical practices .
These events, while they point out failures in the system, also suggest methods in which the use of unfree labor can be eradicated long term. On the production side, better rates for raw products will provide better financial freedom to farmers to send their children to school and avoid the need to procure unfree labor. Rates have decreased as more middlemen take out portions of profit for extra processing and marketing campaigns. Better agricultural management techniques for increased yield could also decrease the profit gap as healthier, more robust trees will provide more security for farmers. On the consumer side, increased awareness and willingness to pay more for a more ethical product will decrease demand for cheap chocolates that are made possible by child labor and will also pressure producers to cater to a different market for chocolate. While there are many approaches, none have made significant headway as of yet, and it is difficult to tell if history will repeat itself and if pledges will be fulfilled or not. Many companies have shown their support in forms of either pledges or certification. Nestle has publicized (as seen below) their investments into research and development efforts aimed at more efficient farming practices to increase incomes for farmers as a long term approach to addressing this issue . While these initiatives appear promising, they must be maintained long past the marketing efforts to assuage the consumer public and until viable solutions for unfree labor are cemented.
1. Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013.
3. Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2005.
4. Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013.
From the Aztec and Mayan Empires to Europe and the New World, the chocolate drink of the elites became the solid treat for the masses. This remarkable transition was no easy process and did not happen over night. Many great minds emerged to shape the production and use of cacao by inventing processes and machinery to meet the world-wide high demand of chocolate. Without the brilliant confectionary minds that shaped the Industrial Revolution, the chocolate the world knows and loves today would not exist.
One of the most vital components of chocolate is sucrose (sugar), which is commercially extracted from several plants; and the simplification of sugar production is the start of what made chocolate for the masses possible (Mintz 19). The technology required for sugar’s cultivation and conversion encountered many obstacles, but one decisive step emerged (Mintz 25). The vertical three-roller mill was powered by water or animals and it eased the labor and time of sugar production (Mintz 25). The Crusades spread the use of sugar through Europe, and soon European countries were establishing sugar-producing colonies (Mintz 28/42). Without the new machinery and simplification of the sugar process, the sugar plantations would not have been able to meet the high and growing demand of sugar. “No other food in world history has had a comparable performance” in rise in consumption (Mintz 73).
The simplification and experimentation with cacao started with early documented uses of power machinery in the American colonies (Coe 227). 1776, in Europe, M. Doret began the use of machinery in chocolate confectionery with his invention of a hydraulic machine to grind chocolate into a paste (Coe 227). While at the larger market, “cacao beans were being ground on a machine that consisted of five rollers of polished steel” (Coe 227). These advances in machinery started to make mass production a reality. The Industrial Revolution started transforming chocolate from a “costly drink to a cheap food” (232). With these changes came the change in the per capita consumption of chocolate, which had maintained consistently, but now was surging dramatically with the rise in sugar consumption following (Coe 234).
The Big Changes
1828 started the beginning of the modern era of chocolate making and production with Dutch chemist, Conrad Johanness Van Houten, who took a process patent to manufacture a powdered chocolate with low fat content (Coe 234). He then developed a very efficient hydraulic press, which reduced the cacao butter content of chocolate liquor to 27-28 percent and eventually pulverized it to cacao (Coe 234). This was the fundamental invention that made cheap chocolate for the masses a possible reality. Another important year was 1847, when the Fry firm discovered how to mix a blend of cocoa powder and sugar with melted cacao butter which could be molded into chocolate bars (Coe 241). In 1867, Henri Nestle, a Swiss chemist, discovered how to make powdered milk by evaporation (Coe 247). This discovery made it possible for Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolate manufacturer, to use Nestle’s powder in a new production of a milk chocolate bar in 1879 (Coe 247).
The changes of quality of chocolate were the next steps in the chocolate making process. 1879, Rudolph Lindt invented “conching”, which made the coarse and gritty chocolate a now smooth and creamy experience (Coe 247). Milton Hershey was another key figure in the chocolate world founding his own in Pennsylvania; with a social conscience he was able to bring chocolate to everyone (Coe 249). Hershey’s Kisses today are made in the millions making chocolate in the masses for the masses (Coe 252). Without the key figures in chocolate manufacturing, chocolate for the masses would have never became a reality. The drink of the elites in Mesoamerica was made into a treat for the masses with the brilliant minds and machinery that emerged from the Industrial Revolution, but without these key figures and inventions, chocolate may never have been available to everyone to enjoy.
Of the 60 million pounds of chocolate purchased by American consumers during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, 75% will be purchased by men and given as gifts to women in a display of romance and affection. This one-week period marks the only time of the year when men account for the majority of chocolate sales–during the other 51 weeks, women comprise the majority of consumers in this $83 billion chocolate industry (Anderson). The gendered nature of the chocolate industry is nothing new; rather, this perceived dichotomy in male and female consumption has existed since the Industrial Revolution, when innovations in production methods and access to cheap labor sources transformed chocolate from a luxury of the elite to a commodity of the masses. Operating under this new industrialized commodity model, early British chocolate firms began to invest heavily in advertising as a means by which to vie with one another for consumer brand loyalty. Advertising effectively served the profit-driven interests of competing chocolate firms, inserting itself as an intermediary between consumer and product in order to manipulate the relationship between the two. By exploiting hegemonic ideologies regarding race, gender, and class, advertising encouraged consumers to engage in particular patterns of conspicuous consumption as a means by which to actively position themselves along these social dimensions. As such, the very act of consumption became transformed into a powerful means by which to “express [one’s] sense of identity” (Robertson 19). Thus was born what has now become the multibillion dollar chocolate industry, the covetous hands of which have sculpted and promulgated many pernicious representations of gender throughout time.
Since the 19th century, chocolate firms have relied on marketing practices that have invariably upheld the primacy of the female chocolate consumer. Although specific content and imagery may change throughout time, chocolate advertising has remained consistent in its ability to arouse and manipulate the both the gustatory and socially conscious appetites of women. Preying upon distinctly female vulnerabilities within various contexts, chocolate firms have promised time and time again that their products can compensate for a woman’s “feelings of inferiority [and] insecurity” (Campbell 111). As early as the 19th century, chocolate firms were marketing cocoa as an essential tool of the devoted mother and savvy housewife, exploiting the self-doubt of women as household figures and further enforcing their association with the domestic sphere (Robertson, 21). In the late 1940s and 1950s, postwar Europe saw men disappear almost entirely from the world of chocolate advertisements, merely serving as bodies or voices to market products to a distinctly female audience (Robertson 32). Such advertising appealed to notions of romance, sexuality, and courtship, effectivelytransforming chocolate into an object of sexual desire for women. This trend is clearly evidenced in a video advertisement for a chocolate “FLING” bar:
This advertisement clearly equates a women’s scandalous involvement in an affair with her indulgence in a chocolate bar, promising that the latter fling, with only 85 calories, is “naughty… but not too naughty.” Such a representation reinforces the notion that a woman’s consumption of unhealthy sweets should guilt-ridden, concealed, and done only in moderation. However, by reframing the craving for chocolate as a sexual desire, advertisers transmute the act of private consumption into a statement of sexual liberty, and any previous hesitation the consumer may have had about indulging in this sweet treat is rendered irrelevant. As such, the female chocolate consumer is manipulated to believe that chocolate consumption will not harm her femininity, but instead enhance it through its romantic and sexually satisfying properties. It is thus no surprise that women in contemporary chocolate advertisements appear to be quite content with the lack of male presence, instead choosing chocolate and its promise of orgasmic pleasure as a preferred substitute to satiate their sexual appetites.
In a concerted rejection of this traditional association of chocolate with female consumption, Rowntree’s (now Nestlé) released their Yorkie chocolate bar in 1976 to provide a larger, chunkier, and more masculine alternative to the wide range of confections targeted at female consumers (Smith 334). Early Yorkie advertisements established the hackneyed, working-class Yorkie trucker as the face of the brand, appealing to males both in the working-class of York itself and across Britain more broadly; however, by the turn of the 21st century, this simplistic representation of masculinity had become overused and outdated. In order to ensure the Yorkie bar’s continued success, Nestlé released their 2001 “Yorkie: It’s Not for Girls” campaign in an effort to “reclaim” chocolate for the contemporary “British bloke” (Redfern). Yorkie accomplished just that, with profits skyrocketing by 40% over the course of the advertising period (Smith 337). The campaign “forbids” women from consuming the candy bar, explicitly stating that “IT’S NOT FOR GIRLS” and replacing the “O” in “YORKIE” with an image of a crossed-out woman in its packaging design. Further, widely circulated advertisements for this Yorkie campaign feature slogans such as “DON’T FEED THE BIRDS,” “SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR DRIVING LESSONS,” “NOT AVAILABLE IN PINK,” and “KING SIZE NOT QUEEN SIZE,” some of which are shown below.
These highly charged sentiments entered and overwhelmed national conversations about gender stereotypes; however, the extensive backlash in newspaper articles and radio pieces ultimately secured the success of Yorkie’s clever marketing scheme, which harnessed controversy in order to establish strong brand identity and achieve widespread visibility (Smith 337). Through such words, Nestlé aimed to convince their audience of working-class, British males that they too can partake in the traditionally feminine pastime of chocolate consumption, provided that it is a Yorkie bar. The Yorkie bar is presented as the only chocolate bar hearty enough for the lifestyle of a true man; in fact, through the emphasis of traditional stereotypes of masculinity, the very act of consumption becomes a simultaneous reaffirmation of manhood.
While Yorkie’s response to the female monopoly on chocolate consumption did successfully increase the visibility of the male consumer, its feeble attempts to promote gender equality fall decidedly short. Yorkie does not merely turn a blind eye to the vast array of problematic representations of women in chocolate advertising; on the contrary, Yorkie strives to preserve them, as the success of its marketing strategy hinges upon both the existence and broader cultural validation of these pejorative caricatures. The tongue-in-cheek presentation of such overtly sexist messages renders them difficult to challenge and critique, as the case can be made that these advertisements perpetuate stereotypes of both men and women. Although Yorkie does exploit clichéd perceptions of masculinity, its representations of the rugged and virile laborer are clearly dripping in irony and thus only superficially impact popular gender perceptions. This explicit parody of maleness stands in stark contrast with the more implicit ridicule of women, an imbalance that reflects a more pervasive gendered power disparity that exists within chocolate advertising and society as a whole.
The slogan “SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR DRIVING LESSONS” rests upon a problematic assumption of female incompetence and inferiority in stereotypically male pursuits. By replacing this statement with “YOU WORK HARD FOR YOUR MONEY, SPEND IT HOW YOU WANT,” Yorkie’s chauvinistic connotations can be eliminated while maintaining their appeal to a traditionally working-class consumer base. Yorkie’s other slogan, “DON’T FEED THE BIRDS,” is worse still, effectively dehumanizing women and making them to feel as though they must abstain from consumption of this bar in order to remain slim and thus attractive to men. This is further implied in Yorkie’s choice of ingredients, containing nearly twice the fat and calories as traditional chocolate bars. This less explicit statement rests upon the same assumption that women should and will steer clear of products that are high in fat, sugar, and calories. Yorkie and its consumers can thus be faulted for legitimizing the image of the idealized slender female body and perpetuating female body insecurity, and should be advised not to “FEED THE SEXISM” that is inherent in this campaign.
By fundamentally shifting their marketing strategies to cater to a gender-neutral audience, chocolate advertising carries the potential to perpetuate empowering messages of gender equality that could help to eradicate more pervasive gender disparities that have long been structurally engrained in society as a whole. While the Yorkie campaign does strive to level the playing field for chocolate consumers, its efforts are opportunistic and guided by profit rather than moral principles; however, the promise of positive social change is within reach if powerful chocolate firms like Nestlé wield their widespread influence in a more socially conscious way.
Anderson, L.V. “What’s Up with the Stereotype That Women Love Chocolate?” Slate. The Slate Group, 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.
Campbell, Colin. 1995. “The Sociology of Consumption.” Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies. Ed. Daniel Miller. London, England: Routledge.
Fahim, Jamal. Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing. Thesis. Occidental College, 2010. Occidental: OxyScholar, n.d. Print.
When I initially saw the logo for Nestle’s Yorkie bar (pictured above), I thought it was a joke. While I have seen my fair share of sexist advertising, it seemed unfathomable to me that a chocolate bar whose wrapper had “NOT FOR GIRLS” printed across it was even available on the market. As I did more research, I saw that this packaging was no joke, but rather part of a £3m advertising campaign launched in 2002 that aimed to “reclaim chocolate for men” (Smith and Taylor, 2004). The marketing director of Nestle at the time, Andrew Harrison, said the campaign was planned as a direct response to the “feminine silks and swirls and indulgent images of most confectionery advertising” (Smith and Taylor, 2004).
While it is understandable that Nestle was trying to target male consumers, it is not understandable why these efforts had to be at the expense of women. Additionally, from an economic standpoint it would seem unwise to blatantly exclude 50% of the entire population from a potential market. Thus, Chrissy, Emily, and I aimed to introduce a more inclusive advertisement that puts women back into the equation, not only as a way to combat sexism but also to increase the potential market size of Nestle’s Yorkie Bar.
In order to explain our logic in creating this new advertisement, it would be useful to first explore the Yorkie bar’s history. As explained on Nestle’s UK website, the Yorkie chocolate bar was launched in 1976 to compete with and to provide a chunkier alternative to the slimmed-down Cadbury Dairy Milk bars. According to its nutritional information, the Yorkie Bar shows is almost double the size of average chocolate bar, weighing in at 70 grams and amounting to a whopping 300 calories. Imagery associated with Yorkie bars in early advertising campaigns featured truck drivers as a response to the female-oriented target market for Cadbury Dairy Milk. While chocolate advertising aimed toward women has typically depicted it as a “sexual indulgence” to satisfy a sensual appetite, Yorkie appealed to men by portraying the product as one that satisfied a physical appetite (Badenoch, 2009).
The television advertisement above shows a woman attempting to purchase a Yorkie, but the only way she can do this is by gluing on a fake beard and dressing up as a builder to fool the large male shopkeeper.
The logo, then, attempts to represent the hunger-satisfying, masculine qualities of the Yorkie bar. The big, bold, strong font of “NOT FOR GIRLS” is meant to assert the Yorkie’s dominance over the male market by completing excluding females from trying the product. Aside from its explicit slogan, the logo is blatantly directed to appeal to men, as the marketers turned the ‘o’ in Yorkie into a street-sign image of a woman with a red line across it. Furthermore, by explaining that the bar is not available into pink, the advertisement plays on the stereotype that pink is a color that can only be enjoyed by women and not men. This purposely is meant to discourage women from eating Yorkie bars to firmly cement the product as one exclusively consumed by men.
While we understand that British humor varies greatly from American humor, and that these advertisements were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it is questionable whether we should laud a product that intentionally excludes others. Thus, Chrissy, Emily, and I created an advertisement to send the message that the large size of the Yorkie bar should not prohibit females from consuming it. In our reinvention of the wrapper, we maintain similar elements of the original so that it is seen as a direct response. Thus, we kept the same large, bold block font but replaced the text with “ANYONE CAN WEAR PINK… AND ANYONE CAN ENJOY A YORKIE.” This destroys the notion that pink is traditionally considered to be a color only enjoyed by women and demonstrates that pink is a color that can be worn by all sexes, just as a Yorkie can be enjoyed by all sexes.
Additionally, we changed the bottom slogan to “Yorkie: Available in ALL Colors” in order to once again illustrate an atmosphere of inclusivity. By alternating the standard bold block lettering along with a flowery cursive font, we hoped to demonstrate that masculine and feminine elements could coincide with each other in harmony. To further reinforce this message, we replaced the image of the crossed-out woman with a male and female holding hands, showing that men and women can enjoy Yorkie bars together. It is our hope that this new advertisement serves as a remedy to sexist advertising on both sides: to the original Yorkie campaign that intentionally excludes women, but also to the traditional, flowery advertising of chocolate products that exclude men.
Badenoch, Alexander, Moss, Sarah (2009). Chocolate: A Global History. Reaktion Books, London, UK.
The role of gender in advertisement is prevalent among a large number of chocolate adverts. Chocolate is associated with being sexy, sensual, romantic, and the female figure is very often associated with these words. Not only do chocolate adverts depict women, they also target females as their consumers. Women on general buy more chocolate than men. “Mintel Group data show that 90% of U.S. women buy chocolates versus 82% of men” (Facts, figures, future).I came across this article that discusses the shift to cater towards the men in the supermarket. “Chocolates could be among the first categories to “man shape.” Specialty chocolate makers have already mixed savory with sweet (think bacon chocolate) and spicy with sweet (pepper chocolates) for several years” (Facts, figures, future). The role of the male in the household is on the rise and they are expected to contribute to more of the previous female-typified chores, such as cooking. Personal image plays a big role in gendering food items. One of the reasons that males may buy less chocolate is that the industry just doesn’t cater to them.
However, although the industry might not cater directly towards males, there appears to be a very sexist approach to chocolate. The BBC released an article on the sensory experience of chocolate and stated, “both men and women can experience the pleasure of chocolate but women’s superior sense of smell means that they may be more likely to enjoy the ride” (BBC). Depicting women in a sense of arousal or sensual experience is the very epitome of chocolate advertisement. For instance Cadbury created the advertisement for their Flake bar. The woman is very obviously naked in a bath. She is shown in a seductive, alluring position, with her mouth open. This association with chocolate is a common scene and the female gender dominates it.
On the other hand, the male is very rarely pictured in chocolate advertisements. However, when searching for an advertisement that caters towards the male consumer, I came across the Yorkie Bar. The Yorkie Bar was created by Nestle in 1976 and rivalled Cadbury’s Dairy Milk by creating a chunkier version. The bar contains 5 big chunks of chocolate and is associated with being ‘king-size’. Growing up in my childhood with this bar, the marketing and branding did put me off purchasing the product. I did eat it, but was always put off by the packaging and my brothers would make comments when I chose a Yorkie Bar as my candy choice. This demoralising approach to the female consumer is sexist in my eyes. There were two adverts with slogans that stood out to me. These slogans were “kingsize, not queensize” and “not available in pink”, both depicted below. Blocking off the female consumer is what caused controversy. A bar catering towards men only had not been seen before. Although many chocolate bar advertisements included females, they never refrained the male from purchasing it. This advertisement stood out like a sore thumb in advertising. The two slogans act as a barrier to the female viewer of consumption of the product. They deter the female and invite the male.
In response to this advert, my group decided to take on these slogans. The response is picture below.
The first step was to find a picture of a female on a queen-size bed, making it pink, and placing an intelligent slogan to accompany it. By placing the female figure on the queen-size bed we would counteract the caption defining the Yorkie bar as king-size. Our slogan that we created also came into play with this wording. “Fit for a queen” was a response to Nestle targeting their Yorkie bar to the male consumer. We wanted to iterate that the chocolate bar is not just for a man but also a woman. We pushed this boundary further through the use of colour. This was in response to the advertisement with the slogan “not available in pink”. Hence by displaying the chocolate bar in a pink wrapper it totally contradicts this slogan. The bed was also coloured pink to further emphasise this point. Although the name of the bar ‘Yorkie’ comes from the city of York, we altered the meaning to this word. We chose to reference the Yorkshire terrier dog (aka Yorkie) as it added a girly perspective to a woman and her toy dog. The advertisement we created is just a response to Yorkie’s advertisements. The aim was to create a far-fetched response that contradicts greatly to the original advertisements. It is not to act in-place of the original but rather open peoples eyes to what was happening in this particular case.