Tag Archives: objectification

“A White Woman Dipped in Chocolate” Misogynoir and Cocoa Throughout History

When an aptly named German chocolate brand “Super Dickmann’s” posted this image of Meghan Markle, some people got upset while others laughed at their sensitivity.

The infamous tweet depicting mixed-race Meghan Markle as a chocolate-covered marshmallow

The German employee in charge of the corporate Facebook account was likely not aware that the comparison between African women and chocolate is imbued with historical misogynoir. Misogynoir, a term coined by black feminist Moya Bailey (Anyangwe, 2015), is double discrimination faced by black women where bias is both race and gender-based (Verve Team, 2018).

While women have long been seen as buyers, preparers and religious devotees of chocolate, the earliest depictions associated with chocolate were those of infants such as cupids or angels (Martin, 2020). Later, chocolate became associated with an idealized image of white womanhood, as society women became an important consumer demographic. An 1874 New York Times issue announced that wealthy women were the biggest purchasers of an “elaborate style of French candies.” New ads featured elegant white women and were meant to appeal to both the tastes of upper-class consumers and the aspirations of lower-class ones (Robertson, 2010).

Aspirational chocolate advertisements, such as this image from the 1970s, continued into the late 20th century

Such ads put white consumers at the forefront and minimized chocolate’s roots in West African agriculture. Romanticized images of white agricultural workers such as of this milkmaid carrying pails attempted to further erase chocolates’ African origins (Robertson, 2010).

Early 20th century Cadbury advertisement

These fictionalized images associated the labor required to produce chocolate with “wholesome whiteness” in the minds of consumers (Robertson, 2010). Notably, a 1930 Cadbury ad that does feature African women, shows them as faceless silhouettes balancing baskets brimming with cocoa pods on their heads (Robertson, 2010). While white women associated with chocolate were bestowed with good taste and wholesomeness, black women were dehumanized and fetishized through racist depictions.

In 1947 a new character “Honeybunch” was created to advertise Rowntree’s Cocoa (Robertson, 2010). Honeybunch looked infantile – barefoot and with bows in her hair. In this ad, she is dehumanized through the juxtaposition of her “imagined” character to “real” white people in the ad (Robertson, 2010).

Honeybunch and “real” white consumers

A 1950 ad goes further to depict Honeybunch as a spring bouncing out of tin of cocoa – an example of a common trope of Africans drawn as actual cocoa (Robertson, 2010) This association of a person with an edible object further solidifies the idea that black people are false commodities (Polanyi, 2001). According to Polanyi, labor is one of those fictitious commodities to which the market mechanisms should not apply (2001). According to Polanyi, not only labor but also the laborer can become commodities for sale if the commodity function of labor is prioritized (2001). Commodity function of labor is the low labor cost for the sake of lower prices, and in the case of chocolate, low labor costs help support higher remuneration for cocoa processors and chocolate producers instead of African workers. This problem persists into modernity: according to the Cocoa Barometer, cocoa farmer households earn merely 37% of living income in Côte d’Ivoire, the leader in cocoa bean production supplying 40% of world’s cocoa (2018).

Blackness is also objectified and commodified through the association between black skin and chocolate – a trope that still pervades today. Food-related descriptions have long been used to describe dark skin. While light foundation shades are often called “nude” or “fair,” darker shades are often named after commodities such as cocoa or coffee. This further solidifies the toxic idea that white womanhood is the default, and objectifies black womanhood through comparisons with edible objects.

A 2004 ice cream advertisement conceived in Brazil

Even black women of the same status as the white women in chocolate ads are not immune to dehumanizing fetishization. In 1976, a magazine editor described supermodel Iman as “a white woman dipped in chocolate,” (Oliver, 2015). The editor’s baffling comment is akin to Charlie’s question about whether the Oompa Loompas, which were distinctly African in the original book, are made out of chocolate (Robertson, 2010).

The fact that class cannot protect black women from misogynoir sheds critical light on “respectability politics,” an ideology that emphasizes the need for black people to gain respect and “uplift the race” by correcting ‘undesirable” characteristics and embodying desirable ones (Harris, 2014). Racist treatment of Iman despite her social prominence parallels the way companies such as Rowntree or Cadbury used depictions of black girls and women like Honeybunch for their “distinct difference” while dehumanizing them.

Pat McGrath, one of the most prominent makeup artists of the century, also had a cocoa related story that shed light on how designers who hire black models failed to provide them with equal supplies. McGrath often had to use cocoa powder on set because she wasn’t provided with darker makeup shades (Prinzivalli, 2019).

A group of black women has found a way to use the association between dark skin and chocolate for their benefit, creating a food-inspired makeup brand “Beauty Bakerie,” which counts cocoa-flavored powder among its products.

The “Beauty Bakerie” website

And what about Pat McGrath who had to use food instead of makeup? Her beauty empire is now worth almost a billion dollars – and her dark foundation colors are named Medium Deep and Deep instead of cocoa and chocolate (Mpinja, 2018).


Anyangwe, E. (2015, October 5). Misogynoir: where racism and sexism meet. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/05/what-is-misogynoir

Fountain, A and Friedel, H. (2018). Cocoa Barometer

Harris, F.C. (2014). The Rise of Respectability Politics. Dissent 61(1), 33-37. doi:10.1353/dss.2014.0010.

Mpinja, B. (2018, July 23). Why Makeup Artist Pat McGrath Is the Self-Made Beauty Billionaire We Need. Retrieved from https://www.allure.com/story/pat-mcgrath-self-made-billionaire-success

Phillip, N. (2018, October 23). My Very Personal Taste of Racism Abroad. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/travel/racism-travel-italy-study-abroad.html

Oliver, D. (2015, September 10). Iman Opens Up About Deeply Upsetting Career Moment. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iman-racism-fashion-industry_n_55f02b31e4b002d5c0775000

Polanyi, karl. The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. Boston: bEACON, 2001. Prin

Prinzivalli, L. (2019, May 21). Why Makeup Artist Pat McGrath Grew Up Using Cocoa Powder as Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.allure.com/story/pat-mcgrath-cocoa-powder-foundation-dark-skin-tone-shades

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

Team, V. E. R. V. E. (2018, September 4). Feminist Facts: What is Misogynoir? Retrieved from https://medium.com/verve-up/feminist-facts-what-is-misogynoir-5392c29d6aab

Chocolate- can you taste the bitterness?

Chocolate one of the most well liked foods in all the world. So how it has been bad for America?

 Chocolate is consumed all across the developed world and has become a staple in millions of people’s diets. As a marketable, consumable product, its rise to fame was harmonious with the modernization of American culture. Chocolate gained more and more popularity as western civilization developed. Chocolate has a plethora of desirable dimensions. Traditionally it has been used as a spice, sweetener, medicine, satisfying treat or symbolic gift. In the modern era however, chocolate has gained a lot of attention through what it may symbolize- lust, joy, peacefulness to name a few. The branding and marketing of chocolate is what has truly taken control of how we view chocolate. This has lead to more delicious chocolate in our lives over a wider scale, however it has also opened the door to a slew of relatively unspoken negativity in America surrounding social issues, like race, ethnicity, gender, and class.

Cacao was first cultivated in Mesoamerica, and was very prominent in early civilizations there. For example, the Mayans who were known for “agriculture, art, architecture, astronomy, and foodstuffs, calendar system, math, religion and writing” (Martin, 2016) Our first example of how chocolate adds a negative to our culture socially is through its influences in the way we think about it as part of Mayan culture. MAYA GOLDCompanies such as Green and Blacks, or Lara Bar use the appeal of mayan chocolate to come across a more authentic. Although it doesn’t seem outwardly offensive, I argue that it objectifies their culture and leads to subtle racism limiting an entire thriving culture to just one of their many wonderful facets.

Interestingly enough chocolate in our society can have negative implications surrounding class. Chocolate can have really great impacts on health but only dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has been proven to reduce blood pressure, “Dark chocolate, lowers high blood pressure says Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany.” (DeNoon, 2003). Chocolate is also it a potent antioxidant, this is very valuable because “antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments”(DeNoon, 2003). These benefits are a great aspect of dark chocolate especially along with its great flavor. However when we start to produce milk chocolate we run into major health problems.


“Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate … and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.” Additionally chocolate, primarily milk chocolate, is very high in calories, LDL cholesterol, fats and carbs for what you are getting out of it. (Lee, 2016) This leads to obesity. What it also leads to is a divide in economic class. This is less the fault of the chocolate itself and more the fault of the American economic situation. However, one could still even make the argument that its dishonest for chocolate companies to sell a product that knowingly makes people unhealthy. However in a capitalist, consumerist society this is a pretty unreasonable request. Still though, the fact remains there is a divide in who can afford to enjoy chocolate and stay healthy by paying more for dark chocolate, and who will enjoy chocolate but suffer health-wise because the only chocolate within their economic range is processed milk chocolate.

Chocolate has also led to negativity surrounding gender in America. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, has become a hyper sensualized product. Women are the ones modeling with chocolate, appearing to lust for chocolate, and have been objectified sexually in order to market it.

godivaTake this woman in the above Godiva chocolate image for example, her sensual expression combined with the chocolate up to her lips emit a certain sexual desire that is being associated with chocolate. Combine this action with the slogan on the ad, “Every woman is one part chocolate” makes it seem as though woman are bound to chocolate, especially in a sexual way. To make the claim that women are bound to chocolate takes away their sense of choice, it is subtly but effectively taking away a portion of their rights.

Sadly this is not the only case of woman being objectified for the sale of chocolate. Cadbury, another major Chocolate company launched a new line of advertisements for their snowflake chocolate. Here is a picture of one of their ads:

cadbury Snowflake2This ad is completely hyper sexualized. The chocolate is again interacting with her mouth in a sensual fashion, additionally she appears not to be wearing a shirt, which takes the focus off of the chocolate bar and puts it on her exposed body. This marketing approach objectifies her and exploits her as a human. There was a study conducted where consumers talked about their thoughts on these objectifications of women as well as the discriminations between the women in men in the in advertisements of chocolate, most of those asked stated that what they were seeing was wrong. (Fusion, 2016) Sadly, the marketing still is effective and there is a population out there that takes to this kind of marketing because it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t successful, especially when analyzing how two of the biggest companies utilize this strategy (Godiva and Cadbury).

The last social injustice that chocolate brings out is about race. Racism in the current chocolate political climate is far reduced today then in the 20th century. However as the chocolate industry was growing there were countless examples of racist representation in chocolate. Roald Dahl’s Charlie in the Chocolate Factory is a great example that shows the evolution of racism surrounding chocolate. At first Roald Dahl included in his story that the oompa loompas in his factory were dark colored and from a place deep, deep in Africa. Wonka brought them to western civilization and now they work for free in his factory. (Robertson pg. 12009) However as rewrites of the novel continued to come out through them we see a decline in racist tendencies on how the oompa loompas are portrayed. By now, in the most recent re-write the oompa loompas are white, rosey-cheeked and come from Loompaland a made up place with absolutely no connection or mention of Africa. (Robertson pg. 2, 2009)
This chocolate babies advertising is an example of how racism and objectifying culture once was prominent. candy-babiesThis advertisement portrays small “babies” that come across as older men implying that they are called chocolate babies only because of the skin color and size. This is racist advertising at its maximum. The other idea that comes into play here has to do with chocolate being a skin color, and an identifier when it comes to race. Carla Martin in talks about how “Chocolate and vanilla have become cultural metaphors for race, chocolate is to blackness as whiteness is to vanilla” (Martin, 2016). Chocolate has provided one more medium in our culture for racism to exist. As unfortunate as it may be, whiteness has come to be associated with purity and cleanliness, while blackness has come to be associated with impurity and dirtiness. The fact that chocolate has come to represent a whole race of people narrows who that culture is and what they stand for, especially because they’re already battling the stereotype of impurity that is associated with their “color.” By being looked at as chocolate, it sets black culture up to be objectified because it equates them with an object, not as people.

As seen through the examples of race, ethnicity, gender, and class chocolate can bring about some major social issues. Chocolate holds a lot of power because of its popularity. Especially through advertising there are countless examples of how many companies exploit certain groups for marketability purposes or objectify entire demographics. In the case of class and certain aspects of race, chocolate inadvertently helps to reinforce certain negative trends or stereotypes that have to do with those demographics. To combat living in a world where prejudice, objectivity, and unfairness exist all around us we must be consumers with a critical lens with the understanding that even in the sweetest chocolate there may a hidden bitter flavor.

Works Cited
DeNoon, Daniel. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, 2003. Web. 06 May 2016.
Lee, Mathew. “Can Chocolate Make You Fat?” Editorial. SF Gate [San Francisco] 2016: n. pag. 2016. Web. 6 May 2016.
Fusion, J. (2016). Marketing to men vs women. Chron.
Martin, Carla. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” CGIS S, Cambridge. 5 May 2016. Lecture.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.


It Speaks For Itself

The purpose of advertisements is essentially to sell either a product or some sort of service to a consumer. The food industry has made great use of this strategy and spends billions of dollars each year world wide on marketing. A multitude of studies have been conducted to find just what makes people tick and make impulsive decisions. One such tactic that many companies have implemented for years now is the use of sex appeal. Studies have shown that sexual appeals were more persuasive than non-sexual appeals when it came to marketing (Reichert et al., 2001). But what exactly constitutes a sexy ad? Another study has shown that there are essentially 4 characteristics that make up a “sexy ad”: (1) physical features of models, (2) behavior and or movement, (3) intimacy between models, and (4) contextual features (Reichert, 2000). While companies feel at least some sort of obligation to promote their product the best they can, the problem that has arisen as a result of this is that companies are portraying messages that are not in the best interests of society. For example, the use of seduction in order to lure the consumer into buying a product has consequently promoted the objectification human beings, and especially women.

As a response to the trend of companies to use sex appeal to sell products, we have created a response ad to demonstrate a way that the problems associated with sexual appeal ads can be eliminated. The original ad that we have chosen to respond

This Godiva Chocolatier ad utilizes the strategy of sex appeal to sell its product.

to is a still ad by Godiva Chocolatier that depicts an attractive woman, seductively staring into camera with a piece of chocolate lying just above her cleavage. The woman is lying on the bed in a submissive and vulnerable position pushing her hair back with one hand and seems to be dragging her other hand down her body. Her clothing looks very elegant. The ad seems to be set in modern day. Towards the bottom of the ad it says “You can see it in her eyes. The joie de Godiva.”

When analyzing any ad, we must first ask ourselves two questions: What is it trying to achieve? And how is it trying to achieve it? The answer to the first answer is simple. The ad is trying to sell the audience Godiva chocolate. The answer to the second question refers to playing upon the tendencies of the mind. Godiva is using the beautiful and seductive woman to make the audience (likely male) feel special. It is likely that this plays upon the ego and sets rationalization to the side. Thus the

Godiva Chocolatier, founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1926, now owns over 450 shops worldwide.

consumer is led into making a connection between the chocolate that is resting on her and the attention from a beautiful woman, a package deal. Now as stated before, while this seemingly has a persuasive effect on the audience, it does not come without its flaws. This ad, and any ad like it, gives off the message that woman, chocolate, and sex are things that can be bought. The ad essentially places chocolate and the woman on the same plane, and since this is an advertisement to buy a product, there is an insinuation that women are also just products for sale. The specific positioning of her body lying on the bed gives off a submissive stance, once again playing on the ego of the consumer and creating the image of a woman being an object of male desire. The main problem here is that women are being objectified simply for the sale of chocolate, when the real focus should just rest on the chocolate being sold.

Our response ad is an attempt to tackle the problem of the objectification of humans, and more specifically the objectification of women as seen in the Godiva Chocolate ad. Our new ad is a still ad that features just chocolate, without the presence of any human beings. In fact, it’s an image of chocolate on a plain white background. There are two pieces of chocolate shown: one is a full-sized piece and

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.01.16 PM.png
This new response ad gets rid of the objectification of women problem that was present in the original ad by focusing just on what’s important, the chocolate itself.

the other is cut open so as to show the consumer the inside qualities of the chocolate. The ad gives no setting or context, it just focuses on what is important, the chocolate. At the bottom of the ad are the words “Godiva Chocolate. It speaks for itself.” The words “it speaks for itself” incites a bit of curiosity for the consumer. It makes the consumer ask “what exactly is it saying?” The catch is that they have to taste it to find out. The simplicity of the ad against the white background goes against traditional advertisement strategies. It causes the consumer to ask themselves “what’s so good that it doesn’t need to be promoted?” once again inciting a curiosity that will hopefully get them to buy the product. The main takeaway of this ad is that we have removed the objectification of women by focusing on the chocolate and playing upon a different part of the brain. Assuming this ad will still generate sales, this ad serves to show how chocolate marketing doesn’t have to be at the expense of the messages the society receives.

We don’t have to promote the objectification of women in order to sell our products. The focus should be more on the product itself and the quality it’s made with as opposed to the body parts of the individual posing with it. We can change the way people think about the world and the people around them. Media has grown to be an instrumental part of our daily lives and can thus be used as a tool to incite change and make the world a better place. We can change the status quo for the better, but it first starts with an awareness of what is wrong so that we can find a way to fix it.




Works Cited

Reichert, Tom; Heckler, Susan; & Jackson, Sally. “The Effects of Sexual Social Marketing Appeals on Cognitive Processing and Persuasion.” Journal of Advertising 30.1 (2001): 13-27. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

Reichert, Tom & Ramirez, Artemio. “Defining Sexually Oriented Appeals in Advertising: a Grounded Theory Investigation”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, (2000): 267-273.


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.

[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.



[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

Chocolate Marketing: Sexualization and Objectification of Women


When companies make advertisements to promote the items they are attempting to sale, it is important for companies to consider their target audience. A main problem with such publications over the years is that women have been overly sexualized in these advertisements to the point where is has become normal to see women covered in chocolate in a sexualized pose. In fact, a quick Google search of the phrase “chocolate commercial” shows the following three images in the top results page.

dove-chocolate-eat-up-your-moment-large-5 525942189-chocolate-girl-gettyimages


Advertisements follow gender differences that are present in the everyday lives of people. In a study of shoppers who were asked if they resent the stereotyping and inequalities in marketing, the overall consensus was yes (Fusion, 2016).  However, companies continue to use these marketing strategies to appeal to their shoppers because their products sell. For example, chocolate companies make billions in revenue per year (Martin, 2016). If their marketing strategies are working, there is little reason for chocolate companies to push for a change in their advertisements, regardless of how sexist they may be.


Think back to the last ten times when you watched a chocolate commercial or saw a chocolate advertisement photo. Were they mostly sexualized women who were crazed beyond belief at the sight of chocolate? Because the answer is probably yes, it is evident that chocolate companies use sexist marketing to sell their products. As they continue to make sexualized ads of women, chocolate companies perpetuate the bias that women are crazed and lack self control. They promote inequality for women and portray women as chocolate objects only necessary for sexual need. Unfortunately, when companies adopt sexist marketing, they continue to promote cyclical inequality: the advertisements are sexist when they adapt to the stereotypes present which then reinforces stereotypes.

For the purposes of this post, a present chocolate advertisement will be analyzed and critiqued to explain the problems associated with the advertisement. Then a new advertisement will be created to push back on the problems and attempt to reach a wider audience.

Original Advertisement:

In 2001, Cadbury launched this Snowflake chocolate bar advertisement. The model April Palasthy was the subject of the ad and the ad even made it onto several front pages of different magazines (Cozens, 2001). In this advertisement, Palasthy is pictured shirtless with a chocolate bar in her mouth. She is definitely hyper-sexualized and portrayed to fit the common stereotype of women in chocolate advertisements. Cadbury’s advertisement has at least three problems which perpetuate the objectification and hyper-sexualization of women.


First, Turner is pictured shirtless which sexualizes her from the moment the advertisement is noticed. She appears shirtless but the advertisement is mysterious because it is unknown whether or not she is fully naked. The focus of the advertisement should be the chocolate but instead, the woman’s body is strongly considered. Her nakedness is a marketing strategy that promotes Turner as an object, on an equal level as chocolate. Second, the chocolate is strategically sexually placed in her mouth. This is a common action that chocolate companies do, as seen in these ads.

woman-eating-heart flakeaa0209_468x355

157419194-sexy-woman-holding-chocolate-gettyimages chocolate-ad-two

The mouth is used for eating the chocolate and the lips are used for kissing, which are innocent acts. However, her sexual facial expression proposes that the way in which the chocolate is placed in her mouth is of sexual desire.

Third, the phrase “how much would you like this girl’s job?” is the worst problem of them all because it contributes to the other two. If the phrase is considered at first read, it is interpreted as desiring the girl’s job to eat chocolate and get paid for it. However, the phrase has a very explicit double meaning – the consumer would like to receive a job from the girl. People know a job to be a sexual act performed by women. Adding this phrase to a possibly naked woman with an object in her mouth is very problematic because the woman is depicted as a sexual object ready to bring pleasure. This advertisement targets men who have this sexual desire for what Palasthy sells and women who want to feel sexy like her. Cadbury’s marketing promotes a fetish status in which men and women presume that they will receive these sexualized advances if they buy the chocolate (Fahim, 2010).

New Advertisement:

An advertisement that counteracts the cyclical inequality and sexism in chocolate marketing is needed. It is critical to portray women as more than sexual objects, which the original advertisement strongly fails to do.


The new advertisement fixes the three problems present in the original advertisement because it eliminates the sexism of the model. There is no longer a possibly naked woman present to perform sexual favors. Instead, the women in this ad are dressed in business clothes and are portrayed as successful and important people along with their male counterparts. This creates equality between the two genders by promoting success and insinuating that the pleasure comes from the work and the chocolate itself, not the women.

Each person in this ad is different by either gender or race, but all have the equal opportunity to enjoy the chocolate bar. The new ad focuses on targeting men and women who want to be successful. It promotes feelings of accomplishment because the Flake bar could be enjoyed as a reward for hard work. By depicting women as important people, the marketing strategy no longer involves objectification or hyper-sexualization. Marketing such as this could decrease the bias that women are crazed for chocolate and objects for male pleasure.

A potential problem of this advertisement is that it could alienate people who do not like people in suits, corporate people, etc. However, this ad is not meant to be a one-step solution to marketing problems, but it would be a start in the right direction. Primarily, if chocolate companies depicted women this way, women would be less sexualized which could influence a positive portrayal of women, in society and other markets.




Cozen, C. (2001). Cadbury’s relaunches snowflake. The Guardian.

Fusion, J. (2016). Merketing to men vs women. Chron.

Farhim, J. (2010). Beyond cravings: Gender and class desires in chocolate marketing. Occidental College; OxyScholar.

 Martin, C. (2016). Introduction to chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. Harvard College, Lecture.

Female Objectification in Modern Chocolate Advertising

Sex sells – it’s an idea entrenched in today’s marketing schemes, with companies adding sexual images and double entendres into advertisements for completely unrelated

This Arby’s ad, run in 2009, shows just one example of the kinds of sexual objectification and innuendos employed by today’s marketing industry

products. Examples include this Arby’s poster, wherein the hamburger buns are clearly meant to represent barely-covered breasts and the tagline – “We’re about to reveal something you’ll really drool over” – stands as a blatant innuendo. There has been some pushback against this concept: this Forbes article highlights some of the controversies, especially over the extreme sexualization and objectification of women, surrounding this trend in areas like the fast food industry. Modern chocolate advertising, however, has received comparatively less attention, despite such themes being just as, if not more, pervasive. Ads are filled with images of pleasure, sensuality, and indulgence, essentially conflating chocolate with sex. The protagonists of such advertisements, including the one for Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate included below, are usually women, and these actresses and models are the ones to convey the physical gratification derived from chocolate. This heightened focus on the female body can play a dangerous role in shaping women’s self-image; a push back against the theme might thus take women out of the picture entirely and focus instead on the chocolate itself.

This Hershey’s ad, with its upbeat music and fully clothed women, seems like a relatively standard, unremarkable promotion – and that is why it’s a perfect demonstration of the deeply entrenched themes in chocolate marketing. One would see this commercial on TV and probably not spare it a second thought, and yet it hints at the sexism present in most chocolate advertising. All three models clearly enjoy the chocolate, and while their expressions of physical pleasure are not as exaggerated as in this ad for Cadbury’s Flake, where the water overflowing from the tub symbolizes erotic release:

the general idea is the same. The first woman, as shown in the screen cap (below left), closes her eyes in pleasure, savoring the bite of “creamy milk” chocolate. The second actress (below right) is more overt; her eyes are open, challenging and seductive, as she faces the camera and deliberately brings the chocolate to her lips. Both models have their lips parted to show a definite, sensual flash of teeth. The message is clear, even if the signs are subtle: chocolate induces pleasurable feelings, often comparable to sex, in these women, and can thus be expected to do the same for other consumers.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.07.07 PM
Screen caps taken from the Hershey’s ad

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.06.31 PM


The Hershey’s ad also underlines how chocolate marketing is primarily directed at women. It shows three different actresses, with a fourth performing a voice-over, but no actors, implying that women, the intended consumers, have a special relationship with chocolate.   Indeed, the trend of targeting women in chocolate advertising has its roots in history. Females have long been thought of as having a greater predilection for sugar than males; P. Morton Shand, writing of the origins of afternoon tea in Britain, called the tea “an excuse for the indulgence of a woman’s naturally sweet tooth” (Mintz 142). Chocolate is sweetened with sugar, making it an attractive treat, but it allegedly also has a special ability to invoke female obsession. As Emma Robertson articulates, “Chocolate has supposedly addictive properties which women are unable to resist” (Robertson 35). These “addictive properties” make it a constant temptation, one that women are expected to resist in order to keep to modern beauty standards. Giving in is thus seen as an indulgence, a “pleasurable surrender,” and chocolate ads play on this idea of guilty pleasure (Robertson 35). The Hershey’s commercial is no different: “Incredible indulgence,” it

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.08.22 PMpromises, while the third model flashes a small smile at the camera (shown right). Her expression has a hint of surprise and playful guilt, as if she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t. As Robertson notes, this idea of temptation and indulgence eventually comes back to sex: “Chocolate,” she writes, “offers a safe…and natural release of implicitly sexualized desires” (Robertson 35). Release of desires, yes, but as the Cadbury’s Flake ad, and the Hershey’s ad to a lesser extent, show, the implicit has become explicit in today’s marketing.

Modern chocolate ads seem to be selling sensuality as much as chocolate. They often feature close-ups of women with eyes closed and lips parted, as if experiencing a physical revelation. This focus on specific, erotically charged body parts is a form of objectification, and can in turn have detrimental effects on female self-image. The Counseling Psychologist article “Sexual Objectification of Women” notes that the practice “equates a woman’s worth with her body’s appearance and sexual functions” (Szymanski). It places the highest importance on looks rather than personality or mental health, and can thus be harmful to young women especially. To combat this trend, then, an ad might take the focus off the body, female or otherwise, entirely. This proposed ad, shown left, pushes

A less controversial proposed ad, drawn by the author, to replace the original Hershey’s Bliss commercial. The blue squares stand for wrapped milk chocolate, the pink for dark.

back against the idea of chocolate as an individual, privately erotic experience for women. It forgoes any gendered component by not showing a person, instead placing all attention on the wrapped pieces of chocolate (represented by the blue and pink squares). It keeps the name Hershey’s Bliss, but by removing any references to sex or indulgence, the bliss no longer has a connection to erotic pleasure. Also, by the wording “Share a moment,” eating chocolate becomes a communal activity. The focus is less on individual enjoyment and more on the joy of sharing what one likes with someone else. Where the original ad only appears innocent, subtly reinforcing pervasive themes of objectification and sexual pleasure, the proposed ad avoids the trend altogether. Rather than a replacement for sex, chocolate is allowed to be an enjoyable treat.



Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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

Szymanski, D. M., L. B. Moffitt, and E. R. Carr. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research 1 7.” The Counseling Psychologist 39.1 (2010): 6-38. Web.

Multimedia Sources:

Arby’s Ad: “Does Sex Sell in Online Marketing?” SEO Training SW. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.seotrainingsw.com/2013/07/sex-in-online-marketing/&gt;.

Cadbury Ad: Cadbury’s. “Cadbury’s Flake 1991 Commercial, Featuring Rachel Brown.” YouTube. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMwMKJhaf7A&gt;

Forbes Article: Dan, Avi. “Will This Powerful Video Stop Sexist Ads That Objectify Women?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/avidan/2016/01/27/will-this-powerful-video-stop-sexist-ads-that-objectify-women/#34788f779a51&gt;.

Hershey’s Bliss Ad: Hershey’s. “One Square Inch Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate TV Commercial.” Youtube. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__0VqVKQ5m8&gt;



The Body as a False Medium for Chocolate

In today’s society, many people tend to consider themselves progressive and welcoming, whether it be of race, gender, equality or representation. However, when looking at current advertisements, in particular those pertaining to consumer chocolate, and then delving deep into the historical timeline of chocolate and cacao production/consumption, it becomes more evident that in fact, many ads and the products they represent actually have not been progressing in parallel to our current times but in fact harken to historical inequalities. Such a bold phrase will surely be elaborated on further in relation to the following two photos: the first being a true ad for Dove Chocolate, and the second being my pseudo-ad for Twix chocolate, a satire on the first to shed light on the issues the former poses such as objectification and misrepresentation of race.

Dove Chocolate Abs

Real ad for Dove chocolate featuring objectification and issues of misrepresentation of race 

In the Dove ad, a black, assumingly-nude male is represented in close-up view of his abdominals posed next to a minute-sized piece of Dove chocolate, followed by a witty double entendre pertaining to six-pack abs and the six-piece bar of chocolate. In this case, the advertisement is objectifying individuals, in this particular case black males, focusing in large part on attractive body parts with only about 5% of the ad devoted to a picture of the product being sold. In fact, as Robertson (2010) points out, for a long time in history, the portrayal of black males in advertisements for cacao products was common to symbolize and flaunt status and luxury. In a sense this ad does something very similar to just that as it flaunts a very attractive and strong body, but also uses a dark-skinned male who is fit which can be implied to be similar to the men who worked on cacao production in history’s past.


But beyond the idea of racism and misrepresentation in chocolate advertisements, it is also to crucial to mention the previous point of objectification. Although finding less racially sensitive ads may be less common in society today, coming across those which objectify and misrepresent genders is more plentiful. In the seventeenth century, chocolate was highly male-dominated, with chocolate and coffee houses for the men while women continued to be represented as housewives through history (Robertson, 2010). Even today, we come across sexist ads, such as the one above, where a man is being objectified as a bar of chocolate, in ads in Africa where women are showcased as exotic figures (Leissle, 2012), or even in a recent Snickers ad in 2014 which implies that hunger strips a man of his masculinity but that Snickers can solve that problem. Therefore, I decided to create a satirical ad as seen below in response to the Dove ad above.

bikini chocolate2

Fake ad in respnose to Dove to show the misportrayal of a human figure but satired by the “objectification” of a candy bar as sensual 

In this fake Twix ad, there are a couple of tricks. First and foremost, I wanted to cover the theme of 1. Objectification/misrepresentation of gender, and 2. The idea of focus and size. For this first part, I included a picture of an attractive woman on the beach. But in order to satire the first ad, theme number two came in whereby I enlarged the candy bar to appear as if the bar is being “objectified,” in addition to blurring out the women and scaling up the bar. In this sense, this ad is doing the opposite of the first ad: instead of enlarging the male body and misrepresenting the chocolate, this ad enlarges the body and shows that the real product is right in front of the viewer’s eyes; that the need for a female semi-nude figure is irrelevant and non-pertinent to the product being sold.


This latter point is the most crucial to my case. Many such advertisers as those who produced the Dove ad attempt to tap into a very select set of emotions and somatosensory feelings of the consumers by showing totally irrelevant images of enticing body parts and sensual scenes. However, when one really stops to think about the ad, it appears as false advertisement: sorry but you do not get the abs or the girl, just a bar of 300-calorie chocolate. If advertisers instead moved forward by showing sensual, enlarged, and slow-motion images of melting chocolate and the biological reactions and positive emotions evoked from chocolate itself, then that would be more true to the product and be void of any objectification or race misrepresentation. Therefore the false ad harkens to this last point of attempting to foreground the actual product being sold whilst portraying it in a satirical manner as an “attractive” and “objectified” beach-bod of a chocolate bar modeling on the sand.

That Dove bar may or may not “melt a girl’s heart,” but that Twix will surely melt in the sun on that beach. 


Beach Picture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabrielsaldana/3512510469

Dove Chocolate Picture: http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/dove-chocolate-dove-chocolate-9500755/

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


Robertson, Emma. 2010. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. pp. 20-38.

“This Offensive Snickers Ad Accidentally Shows Exactly How Sexism Hurts Men.” Identities.Mic. N.p., 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from: http://mic.com/articles/86327/this-offensive-snickers-ad-accidentally-shows-exactly-how-sexism-hurts-men#.ibSEHFIIE

Twix Picture: http://gal-togoond.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html