Tag Archives: portrayal of women

The Over Sexualization of Chocolate Marketing

Sex sells. It is a phrase, a method, and/or  a motto that is used to advertise certain products. From cars, to Carl Jr.’s burgers, to chocolate, there is always a sex appeal to advertisements for their products. I can remember when I was little girl that I would usually see these advertisements between commercials of my favorite TV shows and/or in magazines. Since I was young, I was also naïve and not really aware of what was going on. I would mostly look at the chocolate rather than the actress in the advertisement. While watching Univision, a channel that’s in Spanish, with my mother advertising it but then my mom would say sometimes like “okay, that’s ridiculous”. The next time I would see the commercial,I would try to pay more attention the actress in the commercial.

20-things-which-make-women-so-women-15.jpg
Figure 1.

 

In Figure 1, you see a woman relaxing on a white couch, planning to eat an entire box of chocolates alone and she looks like she’s taking immense pleasure of eating chocolate. In my opinion this picture looks silly. First of all, I would never eat chocolate on the couch that way. That just seems like you’re asking a chocolate accident to happen. But this picture does have context and is relatable from its original source. This picture came from an article by Mirror UK, stating the 10 reasons why chocolate is good for you.
They state, “ One theory why we love chocolate so much is that a brain-active chemical called phenylethylamine in cocoa allegedly stimulates the same reaction that we experience when we’re falling in love”.

The model in the photo does seem to be in love with her chocolate. Maybe that’s what the marketing team was going for when they were trying to find a picture to match this article.

chocolate-ad.jpg
Figure 2.

 

In Figure 2, This is an ad for Godiva chocolate that was found in a magazine. This displays a beautiful woman laying down somewhere in a not so casual pose but emphasizing the piece of chocolate that is among her chest. Why is she not eating it? Godiva Chocolate is really good it shouldn’t just be on your chest is someone else going to eat it? Is that what they’re trying to sell? That there can be a lucky person looking at the magazine can find a beautiful woman with a piece of chocolate on her chest that they can eat from?

Rita_small_V_10jan11_639.jpg
Figure 3.

Figure 3 is a very different kind of advertisement compared to the others. A lot of what these advertisements show the slogan that sex sells. We are seeing  woman experiencing some sexual euphoria when she eats or is around chocolate. We don’t learn exactly where this chocolate came from, where it came to be,  and where was the Cacao from. There should be more marketing telling us more about the process of chocolate and its history. Figure 3 is an advertisement for Divine Chocolate. They have a more campaign ads similar to the one I selected  that represent more about chocolate where it came from and who’s producing it.

 

IMG_0101.JPG
Figure 4.

In figure 4, I chose to recreate an ad  to something simple, an image of what eating chocolate is really like without the ludicrous sex appeal. Chocolate can be a dessert or a snack that can be either consumed alone or with friends but I am not completely consumed by the thought of eating chocolate. I don’t eat chocolate alone and relish in immense pleasure from it. I eat while I’m doing my homework or writing papers or blog posts. Chocolate can take form in memories.  Some of my memories of eating chocolate is sharing it up the movie theaters with friends, or growing up with my mom making Abuelita hot chocolate from Nestle.New memories of chocolate include taking this chocolate class.

Figure 1. – http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/10-reasons-why-chocolate-is-good-for-you-1369798

Figure 2. – http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/godiva-dark-chocolate-6481905/

Figure 3. – http://www.vogue.co.uk/blogs/livia-firth/2011/01/18/livia-firth-divine-chocolate-competition

Figure 4. – Provided by me.

 

 

Marketers, sell your product, not social norms

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.

dove-chocolate-dove-chocolate-small-500651

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.

final version

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).

 

Concluding thoughts

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.

 

Works Cited

“Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad.” 2007. Louise Story, The New York Times. 15 Jan 2007. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/business/media/15everywhere.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1 08 April 2016.

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. “The True History of Chocolate.” Thames & Hudson 2007 (1996). 61. Print

“Consumer Demand for Chocolate Stays Sweet.” Mintel. 08 October 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/consumer-demand-for-chocolate-stays-sweet 08 April 2016.

“Nation of Chocoholics: Eight Million Brits Eat Chocolate Every Day.” Mintel. 17 April 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/nation-of-chocoholics-eight-million-brits-eat-chocolate-every-day 08 April 2016.

“New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures.” Sheree Johnson, SJ Insights. 29 September 2014. Retrieved from: https://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/ 08 April 2016.

“Six Pack that Melts a Girl’s Heart.” 2007. Dove Chocolate, Mars Company. Digital File. 08 April 2016.

“Who consumes the most chocolate?” CNN. 17 Jan 2012. Retrieved from: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/ 08 April 2016.

 

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. 

References

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

 

Chocolate and Females: A Relationship Study

Chocolate is one of the most gendered and sexualized products being sold today.  Its many forms serve many purposes and there are marketing techniques to sell every single one of them.  But in nearly all cases, in each ad there is some reference to a woman in a hetero-normative manner.  All the depictions of women in these commercials imply that the featured woman is in some kind of relationship, usually one with a man.  In order to explore chocolate’s role in relationships, I first examine the overabundance of ads targeted towards heterosexual couples and the idea that men give chocolate to women.  Second, I detail the lack of non-heterosexual ads and show how some ads could be converted in order to begin to break the gendered stereotype.   Third, the relationship specifically between a woman and her chocolate is described and dissected.  Overall, in conducting interviews with couples and delving deeply into advertisements I learned that chocolate is intrinsically linked both to femininity and to relationships, though chocolate’s exact place in a relationship is variable.

Chocolate and the Heterosexual Relationship

The traditional heterosexual relationship is defined as a female engaging romantically with a male.  Romantic interactions may include, but are not limited to, spending time together, exchanging gifts, and engaging in sexual intercourse or other more PG-13 physical encounters, like kissing.  Those three components of relationships feature heavily in the majority of chocolate ads, though often they are not all present in the same ad as that overcomplicates the ad.  Romantic interactions can be generalized to any type of relationship (heterosexual or other), but in chocolate ads we only see them in the heterosexual context.  There is no database of chocolate ads that confirms this. I make this claim using my own knowledge, gathered from years viewing chocolate ads in the media and more significantly, from four months intensely studying chocolate advertising in Dr. Martin’s course.

Let’s begin by examining a 1967 Brach’s ad for Valentine’s Day chocolate (Figure 1 below). I first saw in a Slate Magazine article titled “Cuckoo for Cocoa”.  The article expounds upon women’s supposed craving of chocolate and how the media portrays and takes advantage of it (Anderson).  In this ad, Brach’s claims that the giver of the chocolate will receive “free kisses with every box of Brach’s Valentine Chocolates you give to her”.  Note the use of the word “her” in this advertisement.  Brach’s is specifically marketing this box of chocolates as a gift for a woman.  The gender of the giver is not specified in the ad, but using a number of context clues, we can determine that the giver is almost certainly male.  First, the ad is for Valentine’s Day, a conventionally romantic holiday.  The box of chocolate is given in the attempt to get “free kisses”, which again falls under the umbrella of traditional romantic relationship activities.  Together, these two facts lead us to believe that the chocolates are given from one partner in the relationship to another. The third context clue is that defines this as a heterosexual relationship is the knowledge that this ad was created and distributed in 1967, a time where non-heterosexual relationships were still very much hidden, or at least not publicly marketed towards.  We’ve determined that this Brach’s ad targets males, inciting them to give chocolate to their girlfriend/wife in order to get “free kisses”.  Of course, the kisses aren’t actually free.  They cost either $2.95 or $5.50, depending on which box of chocolates is purchased. The ad is overly feminized, featuring a lacy chocolate box covered in ribbons, many heart shapes, and the imprint of very female lips.  This ad not only reinforces the heterosexual relationship, it furthers chocolate’s classification as “feminine”.

 fig1.4

 

The gendered nature of chocolate probably began when chocolate was carried to Europe.  Robertson argues that the “consumption of chocolate in the west became feminized early in history” and that “chocolate became associated with luxury and leisure in the domestic sphere from the eighteenth century” (Robertson 20). From Robertson, we know two things: that chocolate became associated with luxury and also became feminized. Because of the strict gender roles of the era and the difficulty of transportation, both associations make a great deal of sense.  Cacao was only grown in the New World, so getting it to Europe was an expensive and lengthy process.  Thus it could only be purchased by those with enough coin and so it became associated with luxury.  In the 1700s, women did not have the power to make all their own purchases.  While they did have some autonomy, European women were largely reliant on men for their clothing, shelter, and spending money.  Only in rare cases would women have enough money to purchase their own chocolate.  Instead, men could present their female sweethearts with gifts of chocolate, thereby feminizing chocolate.  For example, in the 19th century, it became popular for men to give their partners “an elegant box of imported bon-bons” (Kawash 1).

The idea that men give chocolate to women has been perpetuated in the modern era.  Advertisements specifically targeted towards men as chocolate-givers continue to reinforce the idea that the gifts are unidirectional and appropriate to give in a romantic context.  A recent New York Times article titled “Sex and Candy” and published right before Valentine’s Day said that “nothing is more symbolic of the romance of Valentine’s Day than a box of chocolates, traditionally a gift from Him to Her” (Kawash 1).  The article goes on to pick apart the reasons why chocolate marketing is aimed at women and why the gift from “Him to Her” is no longer accurate or even appropriate in today’s much broader relationship spectrum. But despite forward-thinking articles like Kawash’s, the “conventional wisdom is that women naturally crave the stuff [chocolate]” (Kawash 1). To determine whether this was true or whether people believed it was true, I interviewed a number of couples –same sex and opposite sex.

Diana and Felipe, 22 and 23 respectively, have been dating for five years.  Three of those years have been long-distance and have involved quite a large number of in-the-mail presents.  Interestingly, most of those presents are sent by Felipe to Diana and many of them feature chocolate or flowers, two stand-by romantic gifts.  When asked why he sent chocolate to Diana, Felipe replied that he believes people, women in particular, feel happy when they receive and consume chocolate.  He wants Diana to associate that feeling of happiness with him, so he sends her chocolate in the hope that, by the transitive property, she will feel happy when she thinks of him.  Where did Felipe get this idea that chocolate makes women happy? “First-hand experience”, he stated, “along with media, family, and friends telling me so”.  Diana and Felipe fall firmly in the heterosexual relationship standard shown by the media, but that does not mean all heterosexual couples do.

The Lack of Non-Heterosexual Chocolate Advertising

After scouring the internet, I was unable to find an overtly homosexual advertisement for chocolate.  There are ambiguous ads that market chocolate to women without directly saying that the chocolate will be given to them by men, but they are much fewer in number than those that firmly depict men giving chocolate to women, or at least feature men and women in some kind of relationship exchanging chocolate.

Follow this link to see an ad by Bonjour Chocolate.  It features very attractive, shirtless men preparing a chocolate creation sensuously.  In this video, there is no implicit male-female relationship.  In fact, it could even be argued that there is some kind of male-male relationship going on.  A group of attractive, naked men making chocolate together? For each other?  The sexual tension in the ad is palpable and if this were the entire ad, one could make a very convincing case that it breaks the heterosexual norm.

Unfortunately, the ad viewed isn’t the entire ad.  In this depiction, I omitted the first twenty seconds.  The full ad can be seen below.

With the additional twenty seconds, the entire gender status of the ad changes. Women are seen coyly flirting with men and almost throwing themselves at the men.  Because they are attractive?  Certainly.  Or at least, before we see the chocolate, that is the primary reason.  After the conclusion of the ad, we might guess that the women are throwing themselves at the men because they know that they make these delectable chocolate creations.  And really, according to today’s society, women are after the chocolate, not the men.  Though if men have chocolate, that certainly increases their chances.  This ad, which is effective even without the first twenty seconds, places itself firmly in the hetero-normative category, when it could just as easily be gender-neutral.

But even in the last forty second of the ad, the men and chocolate are portrayed as feminine.  Note, they are not portrayed as being for women, more that they themselves are feminine.  The portrayal of femininity comes across because the men are being viewed by an outside party and being objectified.  They are being sexualized in a way that usually only women are.  The ad focuses on the lines of their bodies, the play of shadows on muscle and the silkiness of their smooth, hairless skin (almost like that of a woman’s).  The men in the ad are objects to be admired because of their physical beauty and their sensuality, not at all because of their personality or skills. They are preparing food, a traditionally feminine task, and the food they are preparing is delicate and sweet, again expressly feminine.  This ad, while it could break the heterosexual trend in traditional chocolate ads, nevertheless reinforces chocolate’s femininity.

We’ve seen that there are virtually no advertisements targeted specifically towards homosexual couples, so the question becomes, do these couples still exchange chocolate?  The answer is clearly yes.  Just because there ads are not specifically targeted at a given group of people does not mean that they are not affected by the ads.  In fact, because women are so “chocolate-crazy”, wouldn’t it be a logical conclusion that women in same-sex relationships purchase and enjoy chocolate more than their heterosexual counterparts?

This assumption breaks down for a number of reasons.  First, studies have shown that women do not actually desire chocolate significantly more than men do.  A UK study by the Mintel research group showed that 91% of women admit to eating chocolate while 87% of men admit to consuming it – a mere 4% difference (CNN).  Second, unlike the common assumption, PMS has nothing biological to do with the desire for chocolate (Nutter). The association of chocolate with PMS is largely a social construct and continues to exist simply because it is well established. Third and most importantly, women have more wants and needs than chocolate.  In fact, chocolate ranks pretty low on the list for many women, such as for Ana and Wynn, one of the couples I interviewed.  They prefer to give and receive meaningful gifts as opposed to chocolate, which another interviewee, Charlotte, calls chocolate “the gift you get when you don’t know what to get”.   So chocolate isn’t destined to be the ultimate gift for same-sex female couples, but many still appreciate and enjoy it.

I Take Thee, Chocolate

We’ve talked about male-female relationships and female-female relationships, but we haven’t yet talked about the female-chocolate relationship, which is probably the most interesting and newest to advertising of the three.  In this relationship, chocolate becomes the female’s partner.  Take the ad below (Figure 2) for example.  Though it appears to be an older ad, it is a modern take on a 1950’s era chocolate cake ad.  The tagline, “because chocolate can’t get you pregnant,” directly urges the viewer to buy chocolate because it does not have the sex’s potential side-effect of pregnancy.  As only men can cause women to become pregnant (assuming standard biological procedures) it is clear that chocolate here is a substitute for sex, for men.

Figure 2.4

But why is chocolate an acceptable substitute in the present day?  What about contemporary chocolate makes it so similar to men/sex that it is commonly thought to be an appropriate replacement for either?  There are certainly numerous parallels.  First, for “chaste” women, and women are still supposed to be chaste in today’s world though there is much more sexual freedom, both sex and chocolate are forbidden fruits (Parkin). Sex is forbidden because engaging in it reduces a woman’s virtue and chocolate is forbidden because its consumption will eventually lead to weight gain, which is perceived as a negative consequence by much of society.  Second, both chocolate and sex are luxuries, chocolate because it can be expensive, sex because finding a good partner can be quite difficult.  Third, both chocolate and sex can only be had in limited quantities because a healthy body can only handle so much of either.  Basically, chocolate, like sex, is an indulgence, a temptation.  Women want it because they know they shouldn’t have it, and that only makes them want it more.

Chocolate is much more manageable than a man, than sex.  It doesn’t argue, it can’t cause pregnancy, and it is always, always there when a woman wants it. She can pick the brand, the cacao content, even the packaging, to suit her mood, whereas a man cannot be similarly engineered.  True, chocolate cannot give a physical hug in times of trouble, but the media’s portrayal of chocolate as a comfort food means that many people convince themselves that they are comforted simply by the act of eating chocolate.  The media, by continually advertising chocolate as a carnal pleasure (and therefore similar to sex) and by portraying it is as a comfort food (replacing a man’s emotional value), has effectively made chocolate a substitute for men.  But it is even better than men because it is always available and requires much less effort to keep around.  The Axe commercial below shows how crazy women become over the “chocolate man”.  In this ad, chocolate literally takes the place of a man (and by implication, sex).  Women want the chocolate more than they do the man.

Modern women can purchase chocolate by themselves, thereby asserting their independence and placing them in somewhat of a masculine role.  However, the femininity of chocolate reduces the effect of that masculinity.  In fact, consuming chocolate, especially luxury chocolate, which is a firmly feminine food, enhances a woman’s femininity every time she eats it simply because chocolate is so essentially female.  Combined, chocolate’s femininity, the ease with which it can be acquired, its numerous parallels to men, and the media’s continual, in-your-face depiction of chocolate as a substitute for men have made American society believe that chocolate really is an appropriate, even desirable, candidate for a woman to have a relationship with.

Chocolate fits into relationships in a variety of ways, but always it carries a feminine connotation.  Its status as a heterosexual gift could be changed with a large media effort, but its feminine status will not be so easily altered.

 

Works Cited

Aaron, Shara, and Monica Bearden. Chocolate: A Healthy Passion. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2008. Print.

Anderson, L. V. “Cuckoo for Cocoa.” Slate 13 Feb. 2012: n. pag. Web. 4 May 2015.

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times 14 Feb. 2014, Opinion Pages sec.: A31. The New York Times. 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 May 2015.

Nutter, Kathleen B. “From Romance to PMS: Images of Women and Chocolate in Twentieth-Century America.” Edible Ideologies: Representing Food and Meaning. By Kathleen LeBesco and Peter Naccarato. Albany: State U of New York, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Parkin, Katherine J. Food Is Love: Food Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2006. Print.

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

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 4 May 2015.

Multimedia Sources

TV Ad – Axe Dark Chocolate Temptation: Chocolate Man. Adapt. adsoftheworld. YouTube. N.p., 3 Dec. 2007. Web. 3 May 2015.

DK, Anna. Retro poster, “Because chocolate can’t get you pregnant” Digital image. Bird Reynolds. N.p., 24 May 2012. Web. 5 May 2015.

1967 Brach’s Valentine Chocolates. Digital image. AdClassix. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2015.

The Sexiest Ad for the Sweetest Thing. Adapt. ZazulaTheGreat. YouTube. N.p., 14 Mar. 2007. Web. 1 May 2015.

 

Women, Body Image and Chocolate: A Case Study through Advertisements

If a very skinny woman buys chocolate, people might think that it is not unusual because how would she be able to maintain that body while eating chocolate? However, if people were to see a larger woman buying chocolate, they might think that her chocolate consumption explains why she has a bigger body. Both guesses can be wrong in reality; maybe the larger woman buys chocolate only once a year but this example demonstrates the connection we often make between women, body image and chocolate.

Since the 19th century, women have been confined to distorted beliefs about beauty, health, eating, and appetite. Having a lean, fat-free body became the new religion. Like any religion, failure to follow it, meaning becoming overweight, results in damnation. In following the religion, one is guaranteed a more beautiful, sexy, successful self. However, historically, the ideal body image was not skinny women. Plumpness was a sign of emotional well-being and good health (Seid, 1994). In time, the obsession with slenderness emerged, and certain food such as chocolate started to be vilified. Slim became attractive, sexy and healthy. As the ideal body image as well as the image of dieting and the understanding of health for women changed, chocolate advertisements have also changed to parallel these broader concepts. We can see this through early advertisements, a close analysis of Dove chocolate commercials since 2000 and the raw cacao movement.

As women and children became the primary consumers of sugar products in 19th century, chocolate advertisements quickly started to market to women not as individual consumers but as mothers and wives. Mintz discusses in his book “Sweetness and Power” that as sugar became cheaper and more popular in households, wives and children drastically increased their sugar consumption (Mintz, 1985). Around early 20th century, chocolate advertisements started to focus on this consumption trend. As Robertson mentions in her article, the consumption of chocolate became feminized (Robertson, 2009). Women, as the main person responsible for the family’s health, were assigned by advertising companies the role to provide wholesome cocoa for the family (Robertson, 2009). As an example, the Rowntree advertisement below highlights the relationship between a mother and her children. Her children desperately want chocolate but the mom, who also looks like a housewife, perfectly balances the chocolate in her hand that she is probably about to give to the children to calm them down. In this advertisement, chocolate is shown as an intermediary in a mother-child relationship.

Rowntree advertisement of a mother and her children
Rowntree cacao advertisement of a mother and her children

Appealing to women as mothers in advertisements varied by product: the image of women as mothers in cacao advertisements changed into wives who get their husband to buy chocolate for them in chocolate advertisements. The Rowntree chocolate advertisement below portrays a woman receiving boxed chocolate from her husband who is eager to see her reaction. Similar to the advertisement above, women are shown in the context of a family and not primarily as individual consumers.

Rowntree chocolate advertisement of a couple
Rowntree chocolate advertisement of a couple

Over time, however, the portrayal of women as wives or mothers changed into a focus on them as individual consumers. Dove chocolate is a chocolate company that builds on the image of women who buys chocolate to enjoy by themselves. Dove chocolate, sold as “Galaxy” in the UK and other countries, is a brand made and marketed by Mars Company since 1986 (“Mars Acquires the Dove Bar” article). It started in Chicago as “Dove Candies and Ice Cream” by Leo Stefanos in 1939. Dove produces a variety of chocolate products including milk chocolate, chocolate truffles, chocolate with nut varieties and ice creams. Since 2000s, the brand’s advertisements have been mostly focused on women, often hyper-sexualized, indulging in chocolate and losing control. Although women are typically portrayed as indulging in chocolate in their advertisements, the message given about indulging changes over time.

In Dove’s “Eat Up Your Moment” commercial, released around early 2000s, a woman is portrayed as simply indulging in chocolate without any concerns about her body image. She is literally “eating up her moment,” meaning the only thing she cares about is her ice cream. Her hair is messy, adding to her sexualized image because of the stereotype of women with messy hair after sexual intercourse. As chocolate is depicted as an innate desire for women, it goes together with other innate needs such as sex. Thus, she is portrayed as an “irrational narcissistic consumer” (Robertson, 2009), who demonstrates the wonderful feeling of indulging in chocolate. The camera is only focused on Dove chocolate ice cream and her face. The camera does not even show the rest of her body. Her body image, or any other concern about life, does not matter. As can be seen from this advertisement, the association of a slim body image and beauty and sexual appeal is not emphasized. This advertisement approximately corresponds to the time in the 19th century when dietetics and nutrition separated from medicine as a field, and when chocolate came to be as much associated with health problems as with health benefits (Watson et al., 2013). However, it does not acknowledge the concerns that a woman might have by gaining calories from chocolate and potentially getting fatter and less attractive. It does not acknowledge the concerns regarding ideal body image and how eating chocolate deviates from that ideal.

Dove’s “Senses” commercial resembles the previous advertisement and does not overtly refer to any body image or dieting concerns. The commercial is all about senses and being aroused. It demonstrates chocolate as a freedom from adulthood (Barthel, 1989). According to this notion, chocolate relieves people from the boredom of the real world and puts them in a euphoric state in which they give in to their innate need for chocolate. The woman in the commercial is very thin that even her collarbones are prominent. She looks very aroused and enjoys the stimulation in her body from eating chocolate. The background voice in the commercial is soft and sultry, and resembles a female bedroom voice that is indicative of her increased sensations. The message implied in the advertisement is clear: indulge in chocolate and you would still be able to have your ideal, thin body.

Around 2010, Dove released a series of “Only Human” and “Confessions” commercials that acknowledge women’s concerns of body image more directly and emphasize that it is okay to indulge and not have a “perfect” body. The advertisement starts with an average looking woman saying, “we are only human but we try to be perfect.” In these commercials, women pretend as if high heels are comfortable, or waxing does not hurt much in time. Although women are aware of the sensory gratifications of chocolate, they are also concerned about potentially unhealthy nutritional properties and weight gain associated with over-indulgence in chocolate (Benford and Gough, 2006). Thus, they reduce the use of chocolate or omit it completely to lose weight (Mooney et al., 2009). As portrayed in the advertisements, just like the pain of high heels or pain of waxing, gaining weight from chocolate can make women feel bad or guilty. However, instead, as the commercial communicates, they should “cut some slack” and let themselves indulge in chocolate.

Divine chocolate advertisement
Divine chocolate advertisement

In Divine chocolate advertisements, women farmers are depicted as producers and cosmopolitan consumers of chocolate (Leissle, 2012). As Robertson discusses in her book, women as consumers of chocolate have historically been depicted as obsessed by chocolate (Robertson, 2009). The woman in the advertisement is a Ghanian cacao farmer of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative (Leissle, 2012) holding a piece of chocolate in her hand. She is wearing revealing clothes that highlight her breasts and has an alluring pose. She looks thin, sexy and sassy. The advertisement makes the viewer think that if even a female farmer who produces chocolate, and thus likely consumes a lot of it as well, is that thin, an individual female consumer would be able to stay thin too. She would be inspired by the standards of physical “excellence” that the model in the advertisement represents (Joshi et al., 2004).

As chocolate and advertisement companies cultivated the understanding of women’s concerns about their body images, they sparked a raw cacao movement. Raw cacao is the raw cacao nibs and beans that do not go through processing used in making chocolate such as roasting and steaming. In this way, raw chocolate companies intend to create “diet chocolate” that is especially endorsed by the popular Paleo diet. In his interview, David Wolfe, founder of various health and nutrition websites, discusses the potential benefits of raw cacao. He mentions that it is “10,15,20 times more antioxidants than green tea” and “30 times higher in antioxidants than wine.” He also suggests that raw cacao food is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, different than processed chocolate that contains no vitamin C because “it is all destroyed through the process by heat.” He adds that raw cacao is one of highest natural sources of magnesium, copper and iron. As a result, he emphasizes that raw cacao can be used as a mineral supplement. However, he does not provide any evidence to back up his claims, not does he mention the potential health risks of raw cacao such as containing mycotoxins or salmonella (Copetti et al., 2011). As corporations realize women’s emphasis and concerns about their body image, they can be deceptive and make claims without backing up with any scientific evidence. The raw chocolate companies, and other chocolate companies such as Dove and Divine, market their products to women while deceiving them as if the companies take into account the concerns related to women’s body images. It is crucial to not fall into media traps about health and nutrition. You are beautiful and your body is perfect, no matter what you consume.

References

  • Barthel, Diane. “Modernism and Marketing: The Chocolate Box Revisited.” Theory, Culture & Society (1989): 429-38.
  • Benford, R., & Gough, B. (2006). Defining and defending ‘unhealthy’ practices. A discourse analysis of chocolate ‘addicts’ accounts. Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 427–440.
  • Copetti, M., Iamanaka, B., Frisvad, J., Pereira, J., & Taniwaki, M. (2011). Mycobiota of cocoa: From farm to chocolate. Food Microbiology, 1499-1504.
  • Joshi, R., Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (2004). Self-enhancing effects of exposure to thin body images. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 35, 333–341.
  • Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan Cocoa Farmers: Refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate Advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies2 (2012): 121-39.
  • “Mars Acquires The Dove Bar.” New York Times. 1986-08-12. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  • Mintz, S. (1985). Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Mooney, E., Farley, H., & Strugnell, C. (2009). A qualitative investigation into the opinions of adolescent females regarding their body image concerns and dieting practices in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Appetite, 52, 485–491.
  • Seid, Roberta P. 1994. “Too Close to the Bone: The Historical Context for Women’s Obsession with Slenderness.” In Feminist Perspectives on Eating Disorders, ed. Fallon P., Katzman M. A., and Wooley S. C. New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Watson, Ronald Ross, Victor R. Preedy, and Sherma Zibadi, eds. 2013. Chocolate in Health and Nutrition. pp. 11-22, 265-276.

Images (in order of appearance):

DIVINELY PROGRESSIVE: How Divine Chocolate is changing the Cacao Industry

Contemporary West African cacao agribusiness is fraught with problems. Most farmers are not adequately financially compensated, involved in the corporate decisions that affect their farms, and usually do not have access to the finished chocolate product that their crop creates for the Western world.

West Africa provides the majority of the world’s cacao supply, with Ghana producing 17.5%. There are about 2 million African family cocoa farms, most of which are very small, and more than 75% of cocoa farmers state that they do not want their children to go into cacao farming. Even though Ghanaian farms yield 2.8 million metric tons of cocoa per year, in 2011 the average income per capita per day for a Ghanaian farming household is less than 30 cents USD (Martin 15: 1-9).

African women, despite being an integral labor force behind the cacao industry, are many times not empowered and are disenfranchised due to problematic power structures inherent to the cocoa supply chain that echo from European colonialism and continue in many rural areas. Cacao farming is culturally considered “masculine work” and men typically are the heads of cacao plantations; as a result too many times female farmers slip through the cracks within the chocolate industry’s distribution of wealth. (Martin 15:1-9, Robertson 124-125).

femalefarmer

Cocoa Ghana Project photo.

Another problem with modern cacao farming is the use of child labor, which is defined by the International Labor Organization as work that is likely to harm the physical as well as psychological health of children, either due to the nature of the work or because of hazardous conditions in the workplace. According to a 2009 Tulane University study, there are about 1 million children in Ghana working on cocoa plantations, where children can experience dangers such as heavy loads, sharp tools, and pesticides with little to no protection or training. Hard labor at a young age can delay children’s development and increases a child’s likelihood of dropping out of school. (Martin 15:11-26).

Responses to the issue of child labor on cocoa farms such as boycotts, the formation of the International Cocoa Organization, World Cocoa Foundation, and the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol that have aimed to eradicate child labor have mixed results at best. Many corporations have denied the problem in public forums and almost never tackle the question of paying living wages to cacao laborers. (Martin 15:26-34).

And lastly, in addition to anxieties about the harms of mass cacao production on the environment (Ford) there is unfortunately a long legacy of community upheaval in West African cacao-growing societies, i.e. Ghana:

“Conflict over cocoa resources fueled monumental upheavals that took place in Ghana over the past thirty years, against the background of competition between capitalist-oriented peasants, regional ethnic groups, and a national government which sought to control export production…contributed to the fragmentation of lineages and other kinship/community groups.” (Mikell, xix)

Some ways to combat these issues include equal rights interventions, especially for women and children, grassroots in lieu of top-down approaches, knowledge and resource sharing both on the production and consumption sides of the chocolate industry, and increase pay for cocoa. When chocolate is a $100 billion/year industry, cacao farmer poverty is avoidable and inexcusable. In order for the industry to improve as a whole, there needs to be cross-sector cooperation among governments, NGOS, chocolate manufacturers and consumers with active involvement and leadership from cocoa farmers. (Martin 15).

realcost

Martin, Lecture 15, Slide 26.

Divine Chocolate, a U.K./Ghana-based chocolate brand founded in 1998 that is increasing in popularity in both Europe and the United States, seems to tackle seemingly daunting issues in ways not unlike the solutions Gwendolyn Mikell proposes in her book Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana:

“(Because) rural vibrancy contributes to national stability…(it is in both the chocolate industry’s as well as national governments’ best interest) to…(allow) local agricultural organizations to address local socio-economic needs…(while) establishing rural labor policies which encourage a sexually balanced rural labor force.” (Mikell 253).

yummy

Divine website.

In the 1990s a group of farmers, including Nana Frimpong Abrebrese from the Ghana Cocoa Board, set up a farmers’ co-op called Kuapa Kokoo (“good cocoa growers”) that would trade its own cocoa rather than relying on the middleman system of government cocoa agents. Kuapa co-owns Divine Chocolate Ltd; the company is dedicated to providing cocoa farmers with improved quality of life, to increasing women’s participation and recognition in cocoa farming, in addition to developing environmentally friendly ways to cultivate cocoa while contributing to community development and enrichment. The company is committed to transparency and democracy; as shareholders in the company themselves, the farmers receive a share of the profits from the sale of Divine chocolate bars, have two representatives on the executive board so they can influence how the company is developed, and one out of every four annual board meetings are held in Ghana. In 2007 after Divine Chocolate paid off original loans, the company was able to present their first cheque to the cooperative. This was a milestone in chocolate history, and a step in the right direction concerning Divine Chocolate’s mission.

Divine is made with cocoa bought from Kuapa Kokoo at the guaranteed minimum Fairtrade price of $2000 per ton which protects the farmers from the unreliable, ever-changing market.  The cooperative receives an additional $200 per tonne, which the cooperative invests into Producer Support and Development Funds.  Kuapa Kokoo weighs, bags and transports the cocoa and handles all legal issues for its members. The association now has upwards of 65,000 members in approximately 1400 village societies. (Divine: The Divine Story).

The company is also trailblazing in regards to chocolate advertising; their campaigns broaden consumers’ conceptions of African female farmers in the supply chain as well as providing positive representation of women of color, a rarity when it comes to chocolate advertisements. The women are presented as confident, independent business owners, countering stereotypes of African portrayals in the media. (Leissle 121-139).

blackskin

A not uncommon example of how African bodies are hyper-sexualized and dehumanized in chocolate advertising.(cocoh.net).

http:/http://impressivemagazine.com/2013/07/24/divine-chocolate-with-social-flavour/

Ghanaian female cocoa farmers tend to have smaller, less productive farms due to low literacy rates that make them more susceptible to being cheated. Divine and Kuapa currently work towards increased literacy and numeracy training for women so that they can earn outside income through other enterprises such as selling clothing. By increasing education opportunities to Ghanaian women and girls, many of the prime causes of child labor (such as poverty) are being combatted as well. With more educated families, there is more gender equality and potential for financial mobility, all factors that decrease a region’s “need” for child labor. Divine’s Dark Hazelnut Truffle honors the work Divine and Kuapa do to ensure equality for women cocoa farmers. You can buy one here:

http://shop.divinechocolateusa.com/Dark-Chocolate-with-Hazelnut-Truffle/p/DIV-001453&c=DivineChocolate@Bars

Divine refuses to use palm oil in its products out of concern for environmental sustainability in cacao production. The company also has its own radio program that spreads farming techniques even to remote villages, a still immensely popular tool in Ghana. Since many of Ghana’s farmers are not literate, radio programs provide them with the information and advice on various agricultural issues (such as pests and fungus) in the format they can best understand it. By having this radio program, Kuapa Kokoo creates a more truly democratic cooperative by ensuring that all members understand and have access to the tenets of the organization, learn about Fairtrade standards and benefits, learn about their company’s progress, as well as hear updates on child labor programs from government officials, regardless of literacy rate. Ongoing sales of Divine chocolate fund this and other programs that focus on access to clean water, health care, education, supplying new farming equipment and sanitation to improve standards of living.  Kuapa Kokoo has also taken a lead on addressing child labor and adapting to climate change.  Today Kuapa Kokoo produces up to 5% of Ghana’s cocoa (up to 640,000 sacks of cocoa a year!) (Divine Kuapa Mmere).

In conclusion, increasing pay for cocoa farmers, empowering and educating women, protecting children, while simultaneously innovating environmentally beneficial cacao-growing techniques and improving quality of life in cocoa producing regions is going to have to be a multifaceted effort, with cooperation across multiple sectors of the chocolate industry over time. The growing success of Divine is indicative of the plausibility of this type of cross-sector cooperation (Kuapa set up Divine in 1998 with the help of The Body Shop, Christian Aid, The Department for International Development and NatWest) and highlights the success of alternative business models involving communal indigenous practices and farmer involvement, not unlike Bolivia’s El Ceibo (Healy Ch. 6,7). Because Divine was created in order to propel change in the chocolate industry, it was a historic moment when UK chocolate giant Cadbury’s converted its most popular brand Cadbury Dairy Milk to Fairtrade standards. Divine had succeeded in creating and expanding a market for Fairtrade chocolate and creating a supply chain with the capacity to support a mainstream product. When Cadbury made its decision Kuapa Kokoo started profiting from the Fairtrade premium on cocoa bought for this commodity.  Super-giants Nestle and Mars have since taken their first Fairtrade steps by choosing to buy cocoa primarily from Cote D’Ivoire.  In 2013 11% of all chocolate sold in the United Kingdom now carries the Fairtrade Mark.  Over the past 17 years. Divine has grown in popularity around the world, now available in Europe, the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. Chocolate companies should seriously consider adapting similarly to Divine’s missions and business practices, for they are radicalizing the way that chocolate can be done.

Works Cited

A Tale of 2 Women, 2 Races, and 2 Chocolates. N/A. Image. 1 May 2015. http://www.cocoh.net.

Cacao Ghana Project. Image. 5 July 2012. Web. 1 May 2015. cocoakiss.blogspot.com

The Divine Story, Divine Chocolate. About Us. 2011. Web. 1 May 2015. http://www.divinechocolate.com

Ford, Matt. “Chocolate’s bitter sweet relationship with the rainforest.” CNN. 7 July 2008. Web. 1 May 2015.

Healy, Kevin. Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia. Notre Dame, UND Press, 2001. Chapters 6 and 7. Print.Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 15: Modern Day Slavery.” AAAS 119x. Harvard College. April 20, 2015. course website.

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate Advertisements, Journal of African Studies, 24:2, 121-139 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2012.736194

Kuapa Radio Hour:Kuapa Mmere http://www.divinechocolate.com

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 15: Modern Day Slavery.” AAAS 119x. Harvard College. April 20, 2015. course website.

Mikell, Gwendolyn. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Howard UP, 1992. Print.

Nita, Catalina. Divine Chocolate with Social Flavor. Impressivemagazine. 24 July 2013. Web. 1 May 2015.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women, and empire: a social and cultural history. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009. 124-125. Print.

Russell Brand Trews Extra. “The Dark Side of Chocolate-Modern Slavery//Top Documentary Films.” Online video clip. Youtube.com. 22 Nov 2014. Web. 1 May 2015.

VPRO Metropolis. “First taste of chocolate in Ivory Coast.” Online video clip. Youtube.com. Feb 21, 2014. Web. May 1, 2015.

The Innocent, the Grotesque, and the True “Dark” Side of Chocolate  

While advertisements and marketing are meant to draw positive attention to their products, oftentimes they only cause controversy and scandal. Marketing promotions are often riddled with sexist, racist, or classist undertones that overshadow the true meaning of the advertisements; one of the biggest offenders is the food industry, specifically advertisement for sweets and chocolates. Chocolate marketing often relies on portraying women and children as innocent and sweet creatures that turn sinful and corrupt from the sensual tastes of chocolate. However, sometimes these campaigns can backfire, instead causing controversy and scandal that overshadow the initial intents of the advertisements.

Chocolate is a highly sexualized product ever since its popularization as a food product in the early European periods. Even before print adverts of chocolate and its mass production with the growth of large chocolate producers, chocolate was already a food targeted at women. In anecdotes that spread in the in the 1800s, women were portrayed as weak to the ways of chocolate; in Chiapas, Mexico, women would have to interrupt religious ceremonies in order to consume chocolate midday (Robertson, 68). These types of stories imply that women are unable to sustain or fuel themselves without chocolate, going so far as to suggest that they cannot perform basic functions (such as religious Mass) without taking time off to consume chocolate.

Furthermore, these stories paint pictures of women as unable to control themselves in a chocolate-induced rage. Continuing the story above, the women of Chiapas supposedly poisoned the bishop for not allowing them to eat their chocolate (Robertson 68). This paints the image of the typical “chocolate consuming” stereotype of women, creatures unable to control themselves around chocolate, and induced to perform sinful and carnal acts, such as killing, to get what the sweets that they crave. As historian Emma Robertson puts it, “chocolate becomes explicitly associated with sinful temptation in this tale, with women ruthless in its pursuit” (68).

This stereotype of a sinful, craving woman, cultivated by historical anecdotes as old as the history of chocolate in the modern world, persists today stronger than ever. In chocolate commercials, women are still lustful after chocolate. While examples of women depicted with this stereotype abound, this commercial from Nestle in Kazakhstan is particularly representative:

Here, a beautiful woman, happy with a teddy bear gift from her boyfriend, suddenly rips up the cup stuffed animal, and proclaims that it has no almonds or wafers. While this ad might seem harmless and cute, it is a prime example of how chocolate ads depict a woman’s lust and overpowering desire for chocolate. The woman, who is initially cheerful, becomes angry when he finds that she does not receive a sweet treat, leading her to rip up a cute stuffed animal and toss it away with little concern.

While these ads may have tones of sexuality and sinfulness imbued in their images, some ads can take this idea too far. In 2009, an advertisement by Peruvian chocolate company Caribu, produced by the ad agency El Garaje Lowe, generated lots of negative publicity and controversy.

caribucanari

In this print ad, we see an innocent, sweet, smiling young girl playing “kitchen” in her room. However, looking more closely at this ad reveals a truly horrifying scene; the little girl is killing a baby chick by grinding it up in a meat grinder. This innocent scene now looks extremely eerie; the green background of the room becomes creepy, and the girl’s sweet smile suddenly seems perverse and sinister. In the corner of the image, we see the tagline of the image: “The Dark Side of Sweetness”. The dark humor here is revealed; when you give little girls chocolate, their truly “dark” side comes out, and they can be motivated to do horrible things, including killing an animal for fun. While this ad may have intended to be dark humor for the intellectual who could look past the girl’s heinous acts, this ad severely miscalculates how disgusting it is, and is rendered ineffective. People cannot get past the image of a young girl, the usual picture of innocence, killing an animal in a disturbing way, after having consumed chocolate.

This ad attempted to, and failed, to represent a dark humored “dark” side of sweetness; however, what is even more sad and dismaying about this ad is the true “dark” side of the chocolate industry. While ads such as the ones shown above by Caribu and Nestle joke about the sinful acts that chocolate induce, the chocolate industry is suddenly mute at the true sins of the industry regarding child labor practices. In the Cote D’Ivoire, where almost 40% of all cacao beans come from (Mammel), there is a strong prevalence of child labor, where children, 60% of whom are under the age of 14, are forced to toil on cacao farms by their families and “owners” whom their families sell them to. These children make no money, and are often given dangerous and gruesome tasks to do, such as wielding machetes with no protection or hauling bags of cacao for miles (Mammel).

ad-all

With this truly dark side of chocolate in mind, we decided to rebrand our chocolate advertisement from showing (failed) dark humor to depict the true dark side of chocolate: child labor practices. In our revised ad, the true evils of the chocolate industry are revealed; when the children eat chocolate, they are now directly contributing to the child labor present in the chocolate industry. Their lips are stained with red blood, and they are “whipping” the children laborers, who toil to make them their delicious sweets.

While our ad may not actually sell anything, it instead acts as a PSA for the real dark side of the chocolate industry. Instead of continuing to sell chocolate as a sexualized, passionate, and sometimes sinful delight, we hope with our PSA we can contribute to exposing the true evils of the chocolate industry, and close the gap of knowledge between the fantasy of marketing and advertisements, and the true hardships behind what we eat.

 

Bear | Heart | Kitten- Nestle Chocolate TV Commercial Ad. Youtube. Youtube, 14 Oct 2014. Web. 10 Apr 2015.

El Garaje Lowe. “Caribú Bitter: Canari.” Ads of the World. N.p., Jan. 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/caribu_bitter_canari.

Mammel, Mitchell. “Child Slavery: The Bitter Truth behind the Chocolate Industry.” Terry. Nov 2013. Web. 10 Apr 2015. http://www.terry.ubc.ca/2013/11/26/child-slavery-the-bitter-truth-behind-the-chocolate-industry/.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. 1-131. Print.

 

 

From “Jezebel” to “Diva”: How Cadbury Plays Off The Evolution Of Negative Stereotypes Surrounding Black Women  

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Cadbury’s May 2011 Ad Targeting Supermodel Naomi Campbell

Since the 19th century, African American women have been the victims of many harsh and untrue stereotypes surrounding their appearance and behavior. Unfortunately this still holds true even for today. In May 2011, Cadbury, a well known and successful United Kingdom (UK) chocolate manufacturer, decided to launch its campaign for its chocolate bar, Dairy Milk Bliss. This campaign proved a wrong move for Cadbury as it displayed overtly racist undertones, inciting anger from Naomi Campbell, the model who was targeted by the ad, and the international African American community. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Bliss not only directly likened Campbell to chocolate but also perpetuated a negative Diva stereotype about African American women, unnecessarily adding to a long history of African American women being wrongly characterized and portrayed at their own expense for the profits of others. By promoting such hurtful stereotypes Cadbury not only further damaged the image of African American women across the globe, but also contributed to the psychological trauma of African American girls of today.

Jezebel
Typically depicted Jezebel

To understand the Diva stereotype, one must first understand the Jezebel, the stereotype from which Diva evolved. The Jezebel was the “young, exotic, promiscuous and over-sexed woman (Stephens, 2003).” She was primitive, attention seeking, and could not control her own sexual appetite (Stephens, 2003). The Jezebel only thrives on the attention of men, using her sexuality to gain her access to her material goods and needs. Light skin, long straight hair, curvaceous, and loose, the Jezebel was used to justify the rape of enslaved women by their masters due to their “insatiable appetites” and continuous “seduction of white men”; in reality these women were continuously abused by their masters, used to satisfy their sexual desires and economic need for more “slave babies (Stephens, 2003).”

Destiny's Child--A group according to Stephens et al, 2003 that has been promoted using the Diva stereotype
Destiny’s Child–A group according to Stephens et al, 2003 that has been promoted using the Diva stereotype

However, around the late 20th century the Diva stereotype broke out. Similar to the Jezebel, the Diva is light skin, long straight hair, and is traditionally pretty in a Eurocentric way (Stephens, 2003). She is considered a high maintenance woman with an attitude. She needs to be at the center of attention, and is incredibly appearance driven, spending tons of dollars and hours to keep up her clean, polished look (Stephens, 2003). Sexually, the Diva diverges from the Jezebel because although she is seductive, sultry, and at times immodest, she is never explicit or overt; she cultivates the image of being attractive yet unattainable through her smoldering looks, tight fitting clothing, and sassy walk (Stephen, 2003). Materialistically driven, the Diva is considered a woman who has made it and can afford to purchase her own goods. On the other hand, the Diva is also looking for a man who can “enhance what she already has” bringing a rise in income and status to her name (Stephens, 2003).

Supermodel Naomi Campbell
Supermodel Naomi Campbell

This is why with such a history behind the word Diva, Cadbury’s ad is 100% inappropriate. First, directly likening Naomi Campbell to chocolate is an insult as chocolate has many negative connotations such as dirty, impure, sinful, and exotic (Martin; Rosenthel et Vanderbeke, 2015). Cadbury cannot argue against this fact because out of thousands of models they chose to single out Campbell because of her race and because of her ability to fit the Diva stereotype. Light skin, long straight hair, and slim, Naomi physically fits the Diva mold. Because of her successful career as a model, she is seen as an African American woman who has “made it.” As a model, she is regarded as seductive and sultry, and is always put together. The materialist needs of the Diva (and essentially Naomi) are exaggerated by Cadbury as the Dairy Milk Bliss Bar is sitting in a sea of gems with a purple backdrop, suggesting luxury. The lines “Move over Naomi” and “I’m the world’s most pampered bar” adds insult to the wound as it continues the idea of Divas, specifically African American women, being rude, spoiled, and high maintenance.

The implication of Cadbury’s ad on young African American girls is also frightening. Currently, African American girls are one of the fastest growing groups contracting HIV and other STDs due to unsafe sexual practices (Davis et Tucker-Brown, 2013). In an attempt to understand the cause of this, researchers Dr. Davis and Dr. Tucker-Brown went about questioning African American female adolescents about potential causes for such sexual decisions. One topic was mainstream media’s affect. The adolescents felt that status for African Americans was tied into involvement in pop culture, specifically rap videos, where the women depicted were extremely sexualized and degraded. Because status for these girls is tied to luxury items and attention, many desire such status and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, even if it requires degrading one’s body and self, promoting unsafe sexual practices, and having inaccurate portraits painted of one’s self. One of the girls, Peace, reported, “You get the bling [diamonds] when you are a video girl” noting “Everybody wants to wear Gucci or Prada and at our age how else are you going to have that kind of money? (Davis et Tucker-Brown, 2013)” Sabrina, another study participant, elaborated further stating “that girls her age just want to be known and have stuff (Davis et Tucker-Brown, 2013).” By perpetuating the Diva stereotype and the need for status and a sexual identity, Cadbury is further harming African American girls who already encounter such negative stereotypes in current mainstream media.

LessRacistCadburyAd

Thus, in an attempt to fix Cadbury’s ad our group created a new ad, removing all race analogies and Diva stereotypes from the article, changing it to reference Mr. Sandman and Dairy Milk Bliss’ superior dream inducing qualities. While we could make those changes, sadly some things could not be changed. For example, by using the color for royalty and fancy, elegant, cursive font, Cadbury is making a divisive statement about its company as a luxury brand, one that can only be afforded and should only be dreamt of by the upper classes. Therefore for future reference and success, our group recommends that Cadbury stop trying to create a divide between the classes and instead employ marketing techniques that attract people from all backgrounds, without it being at the expense of any marginalized community.

Works Cited

Davis, Sarita, and Aisha Tucker-Brown. “Effects of Black Sexual Stereotypes on Sexual Decision Making Among African American Women.” Journal of Pan African Studies 5.9 (2013): 111-28. Www.jpanaafrican.com. JPAS (Journal of Pan African Studies). Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.jpanafrican.com/docs/vol5no9/5.9Effects.pdf&gt;.

Knowles, Beyonce. Destiny’s Child Playlist. Digital image. http://www.beyonce.com/destinys-child-playlist-2/. 8 Oct. 2012. Web.

Naomi Campbell Calls Out Victoria Beckham About Racism on Runway. Digital image. Http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/10/30/naomi-campbell-calls-victoria-beckham-racism-runway/. Web.

Martin, Carla. “AAS 119x Lecture 16:Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements.” Harvard Emerson Hall, Cambridge. 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Rosenthal, Caroline, and Dirk Vanderbeke. “On the Cultural Politics of the Racialized Epidermis.” Probing the Skin: Cultural Representations of Our Contact Zone. Cambridge Scholars, 2015. 88. Print.

Stephens, Dionne. “FREAKS, GOLD DIGGERS, DIVAS, AND DYKES: THE SOCIOHISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ADOLESCENT AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN’S SEXUAL SCRIPTS.” Sexuality and Culture 7.1 (2003): 3-49. Http://faculty.fiu.edu. Florida International University. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://faculty.fiu.edu/~stephens/documents/DStephens_FreaksGoldDiggers.pdf&gt;.

Sweney, Mark. Cadbury Apologises to Naomi Campbell over ‘racist’ Ad. Digital image. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/jun/03/cadbury-naomi-campbell-ad. 3 June 2011. Web.

Chocolate Gold

Advertising in the chocolate industry is laden with sexist, ageist, racist, and classist imagery and slogans. I’d venture to say that the majority of chocolate advertisements tell me that chocolate is a seductive and decadent treat that makes me lose myself and is to be consumed in an overtly sexual way. Ferrero, which is one of the world’s Big Five chocolate companies (Allen), has long conveyed to consumers through advertising that its chocolate is a regal treat, that enjoying their product allows you bask in the spoils of the rich for a low entry price. Ferrero’s marketing tactic blatantly employs classism in order to maintain their position in the Big Five, capitalizing on chocolate’s actual chronicle of greed, colonialism, and slavery—and, yet, we buy it.

In 2011, Ferrero unleashed their “Golden Christmas” campaign. This campaign basically added images of Christmas trees and holiday lights to their usual setting of a swanky Ambassadors’ reception complete with tuxedos, butlers, and pretty ladies opening their mouths wide for a tasty “European specialty,” all under the guise of sharing in something wonderful. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this advertisement:

A sleek sedan drives through iron gates as opera music plays. (Prepare to be whisked away to a mansion you’ll never live in!) The vehicle that presumably most people can’t afford passes several rows of carefully sculpted landscaping adorned with white Christmas lights on a lawn that most people will never personally enjoy. The driver is a man in a tuxedo and the passenger and narrator is a thin woman dressed in a gown. They pull up to an outdoor party where others are dressed similarly. Amidst the fine guests, we receive a peek at a Christmas tree. (Just a peek—because, remember, our focus is the chocolate, not the holiday intended to celebrate love and the birth of the Christian God’s son.) As the camera pans the setting, a servant descends a flight of steps lined with a red carpet. He is holding a silver platter with neatly stacked Ferrero Rocher chocolates, enclosed in their trademark gold-colored wrappers. Before the woman places a chocolate in her mouth, she closes her eyes and says, “Mmmmm.” She becomes so lost in this delectable nugget that a male narrator has to jump in. He lets us in on the secret: that chocolate is “premium,” in fact, it is actually “the finest chocolate” and “the most sophisticated of the confections arts.”

Have you been carried off to a party where you wear your finest threads, roll up in your waxed whip, and are served by a guy in white gloves while a suave Ambassador winks at you? Does the cooing of a pretty lady turn you on? Are you a woman yearning to identify yourself with this image of refinery? (Robertson) Do you feel like getting your hands on the bargain store chocolate wrapped in gold so that you can share in the delights of the rich and powerful? While the ridiculousness of Ferrero’s Ambassadors’ reception theme came under fire in Europe (Crowther), the fact remains that this plays on the real narrative of chocolate and sugar, and consumers consumed it. We could not enjoy the cheap thrill of a sweet bite without first enduring the insatiable European hunger for market dominance and forced labor. The reality of cacao and sugar plantations as drivers of the slave trade and the reason for which chocolate remains an inexpensive commodity for consumers is well documented, particularly in this course (Coe; Martin; Mintz). Yet, Ferrero, “the fourth largest confectionery company in the world,” continues to create theses ads that prey on class divides and the idea that we should want the life they’re selling. We should crave something built on the backs of African and Indigenous people, brutalized into submission. We should crave the wealth that this industry created for white men. We should crave the commodity of a ‘finely’ dressed woman. We should want this chocolate gold and the lifestyle rooted in classism, sexism, and racism that it comes with.

But can we separate the history from the commodity? My observations tell me that that is exactly what many people do. How else are we so comfortable eating and celebrating something that is so tainted by the blood of others? I mean, forced labor isn’t still a thing. Or is it? The Big Five have come under fire over the last 20 years for child labor violations, worker abuses, and—the most egregious of matters—slavery—the bulk of which occurs in West Africa, a region that produces around 70% of the world’s chocolate. By 2000, the public’s awareness around present-day slavery had given way to documentaries, news articles, and a push by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel to enact the Harkin-Engel Protocol. The Protocol hoped to “eliminate the worst forms of child labor and forced labor from all cocoa farms worldwide by July 2005.” (Leissle) It hasn’t been entirely effective, but the Protocol was met with an impetus from consumers and companies that do care to do chocolate better. Examples of such include those listed on the Food Empowerment Project website and Divine Chocolate.

So, I offer my own advertisement for Ferrero to consider using this holiday season.

My Ferrero Rocher Golden Christmas alternative.
My Ferrero Rocher Golden Christmas alternative.

Pictured in this ad are a family and their neighbors enjoying the chocolates that they’ve helped to produce. We can make this assumption because of the cacao trees in the background. In the spirit of Christmas and magical moments, the cacao trees are adorned with stars and Christmas balls, setting the festive mood. The magic is in the people. They are dressed casually, their body language is comfortable, and they appear to be healthy and happy. They manage to enjoy their holiday party without the pretentious frivolities of the Ambassadors’ reception because what matters most is their time spent together. The imagery boasts an everyday, working family’s reality while the words—the same as in the original Ferrero Rocher advertisement—help to redefine for the audience what premium quality, refinement, and sophistication can mean. This new face of Ferrero Rocher’s quality doesn’t include over-sexualized women, European specialties in their mouths, or servants. It simply celebrates people, hard work, good taste, and community.

Ferrero Rocher and other Big Five chocolates might never be portrayed in this light, but one can hope. We can hope that in time, chocolate heirs and advertisers will begin to recognize their own implication in the perpetuation of classism, slavery, and unjust labor practices. We can hope that they will actually work to eradicate such abuses. Then, perhaps, after they’ve strived to create a more responsible and accountable industry, they will deploy advertising campaigns that don’t rely on trite clichés. In the meantime, it is up to everyday consumers to recognize how terribly large companies and advertisers treat us, and to call them out frequently.

Works Cited

Allen, Lawrence L. Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers. New York: American Management Association, 2010.

Coe, Sophie D. and Coe, Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Revised [and Updated Ed.]. ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2007. Print.

Crowther, John. “You’re spoiling us, Mr. Ambassador! That laughable Ferrero Rocher advert wasn’t a joke at all – it was the Italians’ idea of style and class.” DailyMail.co.uk. Updated 23 April 2011. Online. Accessed 7 April 2015 at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1379948/Youre-spoiling-Mr-Ambassador-And-making-chocolates-laughing-stock-That-Ferrero-Rocher-advert-wasnt-joke–Italians-idea-style-class.html.

Leissle, Kristy. “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Vol. 13, No. 3. (Fall 2013), pp. 22-31.

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

Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 3 March. 2015. Class Lecture.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 9: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements’” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 1 April. 2015. Class Lecture.

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin, 1986. Print.

“Mission.” Ferrero USA, Inc., n.d. http://www.ferrerousa.com/ferrero-group/mission/ferrero-values.

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

“Share your Golden Christmas.” YouTube video. Posted 28 November 2011. Accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCF5Z-m1c0I.

“The Ambassador’s Party.” YouTube video. Posted 27 May 2007. Accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P-nZZkQqTc.

Snickers Satisfies?: Adherence to Gender Norms in Snickers Advertiements

In the 2010 Super Bowl, Mars Chocolate Company released a Snickers advertisement depicting Betty White, an elderly celebrity, playing football with a group of young men.

The reception for this ad was overwhelmingly positive and played a major role in the launch of Snickers’ “You Are Not You When You are Hungry” ad campaign. Close observation a commercial advertisement that was recently released as a part of this campaign reveals that Mars uses ads to highlight their chocolate as the ideal impulse purchase item for hungry individuals. However, this analysis also reveals that, in order to portray a Snickers bar as a quick and easy solution to problems that arise when one is hungry, Mars company often creates ads that perpetuate stereotypical gender norms. Because many of their ads involve a rectifying the ways in which men and women express emotion, Mars Company sends out a message that individuals must conform to what Ekman and Freisen (1969) call “display rules”, or socialized and gendered rules on the way that men and women should display emotion.

Following the launch of its “You Are Not You When You Are Hungry Campaign”, Mars released numerous commercial advertisements. For instance, in the 2015 Super Bowl, Snickers released the following ad.

 

One can see that within this commercial Mars attempts to depict Snickers bars as a quick and easy solution to the emotional outbursts that occur when a person is hungry in order to portray the good as a great impulsive buy. In this ad, Marsha (played by Danny Teljo) is clearly having an emotional outburst over her appearance until her parents fix the situation by offering her a Snickers bar. At first, this commercial seems harmless and funny. However, closer analysis reveals that, in their attempt to make Snickers seem more appealing and useful, Mars falls short by playing into the gendered stereotypes on the way that men and women should express emotion. By making Danny Teljo, a large masculine actor, have a near-violent temper tantrum on screen as he acts as an overly dramatic teenage girl, Mars highlights a gendered stereotype that men are much more belligerent than women. This stereotype in amplified after Teljo eats the Snickers and turns into the sweet and docile Marsha. Through this commercial, Mars attempts to humorously illustrate what happens when a man attempts to express a young teenage girl’s frustrations: mayhem and violence (in the form of an ax being thrown into a table) ensues. In addition, by adding the tag line “you are not you when you are hungry”, the makers of this ad further restrict male and female forms of emotive expression by prescribing a judgment on which form of self-expression is “normal” or most appropriate for a woman.

It is also very important to notice how the ending of the ad also serves to perpetuate these gendered emotional “display rules”. At the end of the ad, Jan (played by Steve Buschemi) runs off upset because the lack of attention that she receives from her parents. One cannot help but notice that there is a significant difference in the way that Jan expresses her frustrations in comparison to Marsha-most notably the lack of violence or physical aggression. The fact that no one in the Brady family interpreted this form of emotional expression as abnormal for a woman could also serve as a perpetuation of socially acceptable gendered emotional displays. Perhaps if Jan had also started throwing things aggressively, the characters in the ad would have offered her a Snickers bar as well.

According too Coltrane and Messineo in “The Perpetuation of Subtle Prejudice: Race and Gender Imagery in 1990s Television Advertising”, media ads often “provide a diffuse confirmation of one’s world view” and “promote acceptance of current social arrangements” (364). Based on the overwhelming praise that this commercial received, one can see that this statement seems to be strongly supported. Therefore, in order to combat the perpetuation of gendered norms witnessed within this Snickers ad, I would create an ad that challenges the very gendered restrictions on emotional expression that the original ad highlights.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 5.03.42 PM

For example, in the above ad, one can see that (the late) Joan Rivers would be casted due to her reputation for being extremely dramatic and over-the-top. However, by failing to change her appearance into a male character (as seen in many Snickers commercials), I believe that this ad would challenge the notion that men and women must express emotions according to their gender. At the beginning of the ad, Joan’s friends note that she is behaving dramatically and offer her a Snickers to remedy the situation. However, the fact that her emotive response is still dramatic in spite of the fact that she is a male after eating the Snickers challenges the idea that men and women must relegate their emotional responses to certain rules based on gendered norms. In addition, I believe that the bewilderment of the male friends would help highlight the ridiculous fact that they were even expecting some sort of change in behavior simply because their friend was now male.

All in all, it seems that Mars falls a bit short in its attempt to make its product more appealing by playing into gender norms on emotional responses for men and women. I truly believe that through an ad that satirizes this tendency, more awareness to the prevalence of this issue in our society could be cultivated and could bring out the changes needed to eradicate some of these beliefs.

Works Cited:

Coltrane, S., & Messineo, M. (2000). The perpetuation of subtle prejudice: Race and gender imagery in 1990s television advertising. Sex roles, 42(5-6), 363-389.

Ekman, P., Sorenson, E. R., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). Pan-cultural elements in facial displays of emotion. Science, 164(3875), 86-88.

Brady Bunch ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqbomTIWCZ8

Betty White ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60c9Rc0pw2c

Praise for Brady Bunch ad: http://www.billboard.com/articles/events/super-bowl-2015/6458193/super-bowl-2015-best-worst-commercials