Tag Archives: Sexualized

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

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

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

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

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



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


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Women Are Portrayed in Chocolate Advertising



Early Advertisements

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


Advertising Today

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


My Advertising With Men

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


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


Taste the Dark Temptation: Sex in Chocolate-Inspired Products


Chocolate and romance go together, most people would agree. A strong argument can be made that chocolate is an aphrodisiac as there are many ties between chocolate and romance in history. The Aztecs may have been the first on record to believe that chocolate had sex inducing properties. The Aztec emperor Montezuma was claimed to consume goblets of chocolate in copious amount to stimulate his amorous energy. Casanova, known as the “world’s greatest lover”, touted chocolate to increase his romantic desires. Myths and stories aside, the modern chocolate industry has been at the forefront to remind us of not only the romantic traits of chocolate, but also how it’s the one sweet treat a women cannot resist.

Advertisements are made of young women satisfying the desire of sexual pleasure by tearing the foil off a piece of chocolate, closing her eyes, taking a bite and wanting more as it melts on the lips. Unfortunately, sexualized representations in chocolate advertising are so common that consumers have adapted such depiction. Chocolate has been portrayed as an “intoxicant possessing the power to comfort, reward and satisfy sexual desires (Fahim, 2010).” In particular, the sexual desire is feminized.


Chocolate takes many forms: Think about bars, kisses, chunks, fudges, syrups, malts, ice cream, cakes, and shakes. But it also takes the form of inspiration for other products. Such products exploit the use of chocolate as a fulfillment for sexual desires. Axe, the men’s grooming product, came out with chocolate-inspired products called the “Dark Temptation”. The crux of the advertisement is that if girls like chocolate, they will like a guy who smells like chocolate. Heavy emphasis was placed on the “irresistible” nature of chocolate as a tool to attract “needy” women. I proposed an advertisement where the concept of “dark” and “irresistible” is replaced with something more appropriate.


“Years of advertising have left the impression Axe is all about sex (Neff, 2014).”

The following advertisement (2008) is from Axe’s marketing campaign of its new product “Dark Temptation”. The advertisement depicts a white male who turns into a chocolate man after using the Axe’s Dark Temptation spray. He then walks on the street where young white women get sexually attracted towards him. He is shown in different areas where women gather to bite and lick his body. The advertisement features a “chocolate man” besieged by sex and chocolate crazed females. The advertisement emphasizes the total transformation of an “ordinary” male into an “attractive idol” of female masses. The “chocolate man” is seen as smiling with open eyes, suggesting that he approves of this behavior of women getting attracted towards him. Although the advertisement is about a male fragrance and is not exclusively about chocolate, it clearly depicts how chocolate is viewed in the Western society. The advertisement depicts the idea that chocolate is irresistible, and Axe has developed a cologne that is as irresistible as chocolate.

The following still images have been taken from the video:


In this image, “chocolate man” is sitting in a movie theatre while two females are licking his cheeks. One point to be noted here is the normal behavior of all males sitting behind. This again depicts the desire of chocolate being feminized.


In this image, girls working out at the gym stop their workout as they see the chocolate man. This is depicting the concept of chocolate as woman’s guilty pleasure.





Throughout the video and other advertisements (such as shown above), women are shown as “irrational” without any other feelings besides orgasmically enjoying the presence of chocolate. The message of each of these advertisements couldn’t be clearer: “use Axe and get laid. Repeatedly, by different women (Lindstrom, 2011).”

Proposed Advertisement

Axe heavily emphasized on the “dark” and “irresistible” nature of the chocolate. The use of the phrase “dark temptation” is interesting in this advertisement as it suggests that a male should seek the “dark” characteristics (evident by the chocolate man) in order to gain the attention of white women (evident by the point that all women in the advertisement were white). Emphasis was also placed on the “irresistible” nature of the chocolate and that of a women. The phrase “irresistible” suggests that women cannot control their desire for chocolate/sexual pleasure and will always find an excuse for it.


The primary objective of the proposed advertisement is to challenge the “dark” and “irresistible” nature of chocolate and its association with women.

The phrase “dark” was replaced with “pure” suggesting that any temptation that should occur after smelling the fragrance should be natural. Furthermore, removing “dark” takes away the notion of black male bodies as hyper-masculine objects. As mentioned earlier, the phrase “irresistible” was used in the old advertisement to suggest that women cannot control their desire. The phrase “irresistible” was replaced with “pleasant” thus making an attempt to remove any sexual association with chocolate.

The one problem with the new advertisement, however, is that it does not address the basic problem of associating chocolate as an intoxicant possessing the power to satisfy sexual desire, especially that of female. Perhaps the problem is not only with the advertising companies portraying such image of women but rather its wide spread. Chocolate’s association with love has been attributed to the cultural practices of receiving chocolate on Valentine’s Day. However, it seems to me that chocolate is pleasurable simply because it is delicious. Chocolate’s association with love and sex is propagated by the chocolate marketing.




O’connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 July 2006. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
Neff, Jack. “Axe Goes Celibate: Why Unilever Chose to Forgo Sex in Ad for New Scent.” Advertising Age CMO Strategy RSS. N.p., 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/unilever-chose-complexity-sex-axe-scent/294539/&gt;.
Fahim, Jamal. “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing.” Oxyscholar. Occidental College, 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student&gt;.
Lindstrom, Martin. “Can a Commercial Be Too Sexy For Its Own Good? Ask Axe.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/10/can-a-commercial-be-too-sexy-for-its-own-good-ask-axe/246863/&gt;.

“Romance and Chocolate.” Majesticgardenscom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://majesticgardens.com/romance-and-chocolate/&gt;.

Reiley, Amy. “Chocolate – the Aphrodisiac of the World’s Greatest Lovers.”Eat Something Sexy. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://eatsomethingsexy.com/wordpress/aphrodisiac-foods/chocolate/&gt;.


UNILEVER – AXE – DARK TEMPTATION: http://www.jortatamaki.com/axe-dark-temptation/

Axe Dark Temptation: http://guiahombres.com/axe-dark-temptation-la-gama-completa-que-huele-a-chocolate/




GoDIVA; Go Away With the DIVAs!

Godiva Diva Marketing Campaign

In 2014, Godiva came out with a GoDiva marketing campaign, emphasizing the “Diva,” in women. The purpose of advertising and marketing is to sell a product. In the case of Godiva, their product is chocolate, so we can assume their goal is to sell that chocolate. Looking at this specific ad from Godiva, we are able to see that chocolate is not the main focus. Godiva chooses to market the chocolate by pairing it with a highly stereotypical and sexualized scene. Photo analysis proves the word choice, the woman’s position, and the placement of the chocolate are “selling sex” and playing on gendered stereotypes. Godiva, marketing their chocolate in this way, loses the idea of selling chocolate in their ad, but instead is selling the idea of desire. They sell the woman in the ad and what the woman  are symbolized as. Consumers are not focused on the chocolate, but instead on the woman which Godiva portrays as an object to desire. The ad hints at promising more than chocolate, it hints “promises of intimacy.” (bittersweetnotes)

This is an image from the Godiva “Diva” chocolate campaign. The image is focused almost completely on the woman. Not placing any emphasis on the Godiva Chocolate product, but instead on the desire “in her eyes.” 

It’s All in the Eyes

“You can see it in her eyes,” is what the GoDiva ad reads. By looking at the models eyes, you don’t see anything but a woman trying to look fierce and model. She is making direct eye contact with the camera, not even noticing that she has chocolate on her chest. There is no connection in her eyes that would make you think she wants chocolate. By looking directly into the camera, any desire she may have for chocolate is lost because she completely disconnects herself from the chocolate. Also Godiva emphasizes the word “Diva” in their logo, stereotyping women. They play on the stereotype that women act like Diva’s wanting luxurious, expensive, unnecessary goods.  Here the gender is linked with class. “The emphasis is on identifying with, or pairing to, high social status through consumption.” (26 Robertson) The boldness of the word “Diva” is specifically targeting a higher class, alluding that this is a luxurious and decadent good. This is a way to “clearly distinguish between brands,” (29) and also limit the scope of their consumers. They make this a very stereotypical ad, using a beautiful white women in elaborate and intricate clothing to target a consumer base of wealthy and higher class customers.


Lingerie or Chocolate

The woman’s positioning in this ad is very sexualized. She looks as if she is in a Victoria Secret photo shoot, and posing as if she were trying to sell lingerie. The woman is laying down, one hand is above her head while the other lightly drapes across her chest. The model also is dressed in fancy, low cut clothing that could easily be mistaken as lingerie. She is the main attraction in this ad, not the Godiva chocolate product. The ad “paired the set of themes […] of selling chocolate, romance and sex.” (bittersweetnotes)  The chocolate is strategically placed right by the woman’s chest, on her exposed skin. Again, this chocolate placement is suggesting desire, not for the chocolate, but for the woman. It is a way of “objectifying women as sexual objects to maintain male morale.” (31) With the highly sexualization of this woman, the focus becomes entirely of the woman. The eye contact with the camera, the lying down position, the skimpy clothing, the tussled hair and the smoky eye make up create an ad that sells sex, not chocolate. Continually we are seeing deviation from the focus of chocolate as the main attraction of the ad.

Here we have another Godiva “Diva” campaign. Again, we see that there is no focus on the chocolate. The model doesn’t even look as if she wants to eat the chocolate. She is more focused on making eye contact with the camera and giving a “sexy” look. She is modeling, not selling the chocolate, or even modeling the chocolate to make it look good. 


A New Ad

To make an ad that focuses on selling chocolate, the ad must be marketed to a larger and more diverse crowd. By using this model and emphasizing Diva, the scope of consumers reached is limited, it is made to seem as if it is a product only for high class people. In the ad that we created we took out all the background noise and focused on the product, chocolate. Instead of limiting the consumers and stereotyping people we marketed chocolate as a product for everyone by including the words “Godiva Chocolate. It speaks for itself.” This was a way to push back against the sexualized words in the original ad that alludes to the desire in the woman’s eyes. In this ad, we keep the wording very simple and focused on the chocolate. We do not emphasize any words that would target a specific class or gender of consumers.


Just Godiva Chocolate

In our ad, we also kept the aesthetics very simple. With no risk of sexualizing or stereo typifying the ad, we decided not to include any women or men. We didn’t want to target or exclude a gender or race. The chocolate is simply the chocolate and that is the way we advertised it.  The chocolate is not targeted to anyone specifically, instead, we make it a chocolate that is consumed by all and for all to enjoy. In this way we are able to expand the reach of the ad.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.01.16 PM.png
The Godiva Chocolate Ad Created by Marissa Balleza, Alexander Kerfoot and Tyler Moy. It is simple and focuses on the chocolate. Nothing else. 


The GoDiva “Diva” campaign was a highly sexualized and stereo typified ad campaign that stole the focus from chocolate and moved it onto the woman. By taking the attention off of the selling product, the campaign reached a limited scope of people and lost the true meaning of the purpose of the campaign. Simplifying the ad and focusing on the chocolate allowed the chocolate to be marketed to everyone.


Works Cited

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

Martin, Carla. “Male-Female Relationships and Chocolate in TV Commercials.” : Bittersweet Notes. WordPress, 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.