Tag Archives: Snickers

Momma Told Me Life is a Box of Chocolates

In interviewing my mother about her relationship with chocolate, I initially came into the interview expecting to hear a lot about chocolate playing a major role in her past romantic relationships during times like Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. I didn’t expect chocolate to have played such an important role in the many ways it did in my mother’s life. It was amazing to me how versatile chocolate was as a food item, and even then, how versatile it was in terms of the many different purposes it could serve from day to day for different people. It really gave me a much more personal and relatable example of how the impact of chocolate on the lives of many goes beyond being enjoyed as a snack. The numerous sentimental attachments my mother had to chocolate were surprising.

 When I asked my mom about her first encounters with chocolate, she recollected a story her mother told her about the day she was born. My grandmother was a military wife raising my mother and my uncle at home while my grandfather was overseas. The day she gave birth to my mother, my grandfather had a friend of his deliver a box of chocolates to the labor room to show his love and support for her. When my mom told me this, I was shocked at the way chocolate was being used. It kind of made sense to me because he sent them partially to express his love for my grandmother, but it wasn’t the same type of love, at least to me, as Valentine’s Day. Before hearing this, I had the impression that chocolate and love were only connected through expressions of romanticlove that is shown to appreciate the connection between two individuals. The love being expressed in this situation was more of the love one would get from having a child and feeling a special sense of family and love for a spouse througha child. For that reason, it was unique to me that chocolate was used in that situation. Nonetheless, I thought it was a successful attempt to use chocolate as a gesture of love because my mom said it gave her older brother and my grandmother a strong sense of comfort at the time.

Apparently this trend continued as my mother grew up, as her father would send the family gifts from overseas that often times included some quantity of chocolate. It seemed to me, though, that these gifts of chocolate meant something slightly different than the one given on the day of my mother’s birth. According to my mother, my grandfather would send packages with papers that bore information about the area he was in at the time, food typical of that particular area (with some chocolate always added in for fun), and a cool souvenir. My mom told me that the chocolate they received here was not so much a comfort item. Of course the arrival of the packages certainly made my mother and her family feel comfortable to know that my grandfather was still alive, but that wasn’t the overall point of them. These gift boxes seemed to be more about exposure to the foreign cultures and traditions throughout the world, and not so much about expressing love. For one, the chocolate was an incentive for my mom and my uncle to open the boxes that came, but each time, the chocolate was from different regions of the world and each had a slightly different taste. I thought this was very interesting because the chocolate my grandfather was sending served more as a souvenir than a comfort item. Chocolate in this sense not only comes with an attachment of emotion, but a capsule of information and experiences in a place that you’ve never been. This proved to me how chocolate could be used for the spread of culture and not just to express some form of love. 

As the interview went on, we got into the role chocolate served for my mom when she was in college. Growing up on Fort Bragg, a military base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, my mother was exposed to the opportunity for economic mobility that the military offered young black people. She had seen first hand that while my grandfather may not have been able to be there all the time because he was constantly deployed, they at least knew each pay period that a check would be in the mail with a certain amount of money on it. The bills were always paid and there was never a question whether or not the money would come. In seeing this throughout her childhood, my mother got involved in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) as early as she could. When it came time to come to college, she had gotten into all of her dream schools, but couldn’t afford to go to even her in-state schools, much less out of state. She went to college on Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship, but all they paid for was her schooling. She was forced to work a job to pay for her room on campus, but unfortunately she had to make it work in terms of what to eat. According to my mom, in times of need in college, she would rely on a Pepsi and a Snickers Bar many days for meals. While this is definitely not an ideal circumstance, nor is it necessarily good for one’s health, it shows a different type of significance that chocolate has for people that isn’t so deeply entrenched in the meaning behind it. In this case, chocolate served as nothing more than a not so filling snack used to replace a meal due to hard times. It was humbling to hear an example of such a vital role that chocolate played in my mother’s life.

Image result for snickers bar

Also while in college, my mother met my dad. Initially, their relationship didn’t involve any chocolate at all, besides the fact that my mom described him as “tall, chocolate, and handsome”. My dad was a Bahamian (from the Bahamas) immigrant at the time and his accent was still very strong. He saw my mother one day walking across the yard and waited until she got near his window to wisper out the window to him. She was in love with his accent from the start, though it has faded overtime, and that is part of what made her allow him to take her on a date. She was telling me about how she was expecting to go to a strange restaurant that my father would have liked and wasn’t expecting to enjoy her night very much at all but would give it a try. Nonetheless, she gave it a try and when he picked her up, he greeted her with flowers, a card expressing his feelings for her and… you guessed it—a heart shaped box of chocolates. They went to a normal restaurant and had a good meal, and in the end, my dad even treated her to a chocolate desert, also a “smooth move”, according to him, to confess his feelings for my mother. They later got married and at their wedding, chocolate was served on a big platter along with a chocolate waterfall meant to let drip on strawberries. In both cases, chocolate was used as a display of romantic affection for another individual. 

Image result for flowers and chocolate

Here is where I found one of the most interesting pieces of information, to me. My mother and I both talked to my dad about the day they met in college and he said that he too was very skeptical about how that date would go. He told me that at the time he met my mom, he hadn’t been in the United States for more than a few years, so he was trying to do everything that he saw in movies to seem Americanized and not blow his cover as a foreigner, as if the accent didn’t give it away. The whole story about whispering out of the window and displaying such confidence that actually wasn’t there is a silly story but it shows how chocolate can serve not only as a display of romantic love for another individual, as mentioned before, but as a certification of a certain amount of familiarity one has with American culture. I thought it was interesting that to someone who had never been to America before the late 80s like my dad, chocolate was an Americanthing.

Later in the interview, I was able to ask questions about the role chocolate had played in my mother’s adult life. She continued on from her stories about her wedding and described that chocolate actually played major roles in our family life as she had my brother and I. First off, she received loads of chocolate attached to gifts from family members when she had her baby showers for my brother and me.  This expands on the attachment of chocolate to love and support, whether romantic or not. She also went on to tell me about how when I was younger, I would become immune to the different tricks she would pull to get me to go to sleep, but that warm chocolate milk always did the trick. I went through not needing anything, then after a few sleepless nights, my mom tried warm milk. That worked for quite some time, but it got to a point where even that wasn’t working (What? I know). When she switched to chocolate milk, apparently those were the easiest nights she had with me when I was a baby. I don’t know what this says about chocolate, but I would assume from the context that this example was given in that chocolate is held dear to people’s heart’s for reasons that don’t have anything to do with symbolism. The pure taste of chocolate can sometimes simply warm somebody’s soul and bring a calm smile to their face. Possibly, this is one main reason chocolate has persisted as such a symbolic food item today.

By far, the most unique example of the symbolism of chocolate was through my mom’s talk about her favorite holiday of the year—one that we created ourselves. Almost every year for the past fifteen years, my family has had some member of our family graduate from either high school or college. Each time, my family holds a party to celebrate and my mom bakes a chocolate cake that has deep meaning behind it. Both of my parents and all of my aunts and uncles have faced loads of adversity throughout their lives just because they were black in America. All have prevailed to become very successful at their many endeavors, and take much pride in their children representing not only our family, but also black people in general in a moral and respectable manner. The chocolate cake served at these parties is a reminder that throughout life, the color of our skin will present challenges that we will simply have to deal with. It also let’s us know that if we look around, we have plenty of role models right there within our own immediate families that are breathing examples of people that have prevailed. The chocolate used in this case is symbolic of a sense of deep pride and responsibility toward one’s people. This was the most powerful use of chocolate I heard from her throughout our entire interview.

Image result for chocolate cake

It is clear that chocolate played a major role in my mother’s life, but in many different ways that I had no idea about. I found out about many relationships between my mother and chocolate that were expected, like receiving chocolate on dates, at weddings, at baby showers, etc. in attempts to express either romantic or non-romantic love and affection. The forms I was not prepared to hear about were mainly the symbolism that chocolate had for my dad as an American food item and the chocolate cake my mom makes at every graduation party to remind us that we have more people relying on us than just ourselves. All in all, chocolate has proven to me now, more than ever, how versatile it really is in that it can fulfill many different roles in people’s life.

Snickers, Who They Are When They’re Hungry

The World’s Best Selling Chocolate Bar,

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/07/01/mars-global-cmo-expecting-brand-love-step-too-far-consumers

Snickers is the one of the top selling candies around the world. According to a 2015 report, Snickers sold approximately 405.3 million units and generated a revenue of $386.2 million.[1] Snickers is one of the many candy brands under the Mars Wrigley Confectionery (Mars) umbrella. As one of Mars’ most successful candies, Snickers serves as an indicator about the extent in which Mars is a responsible chocolate manufacturer.

In the analysis it will show how Mars does not commit to the five principles it has set out for itself. From its level of sustainability to the advertisement campaigns it has distributed over the years, Mars has not demonstrated the industry leading ideals it claims to uphold in its company, a company that sells its products to more than 180 countries. Mars neglects its responsibility as a world leading producer of chocolate, and looking through the lens of the “world’s best-selling candy bar” will reveal areas of much improvement. As a company that looks to constantly grow, and appears to have an unceasing appetite, much like the subjects of one of its advertisements (seen below), it appears that it will cut corners and feed into false and dangerous stereotypes in order to satisfy that hunger. As their famous ad campaign popularly coined, “Snickers, you’re not you when you’re hungry.”

[1] CNBC, The Daily Meal. “America’s Favorite Chocolate Candies.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/americas-favorite-chocolate-candies.

“Satisfying your hunger”,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NC0f1nvEz8

Snickers’ Mission

According to Mars before any decision is made they consider 5 key principles: Quality of work and contributions to society, Responsibility (as individuals and a company) to act now, Mutuality of benefit to their stakeholders, Efficiency to use their resources to maximum effect, Freedom to make their own decisions.[1] As a company that has been around for more than 100 years, it seems obvious that it would be able to hold itself to such high ideals and still experience high levels of success. However, as will be revealed, their desire to benefit stakeholders seems to be their strongest decider.

An important point of emphasis for Mars in order to seek higher revenues for their iconic candy bars is through their advertisements. No matter how great a candy bar is, people still need to want to buy it. James Miller, global head of strategy for Mars at BBDO, an advertising company, revealed what made their six-year ad campaign so effective. Miller attributed the success of the campaign to the fame it was able to attribute through expert commercials and recognizable celebrities, such as Betty White, Aretha Franklin, and Rowan Atkinson who portrays his famous character Mr. Bean.

[1] https://www.mars.com/about/five-principles


Mr. Bean TV Advertisement,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIVDxL2lgN4

Miller speaks extensively about where Snickers was lacking in its public persona, and how the people of BBDO looked to help Mars boost Snickers market share and retain its throne on top of the chocolate bar industry.

Miller, unsurprisingly, leaves out numerous examples of the ways in which Snickers and other chocolate manufacturers have attempted to sell their chocolate in racially and heterosexually charged ways.

Advertisements

Snickers’ Fumble on Superbowl Sunday

In 2007 Snickers released a commercial during Super Bowl XLI that was met with strong criticism from many LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Snickers Super Bowl XLI Commercial,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8XbTsbkwII

The commercial was accompanied by footage released on Snickers’ website that showed professional football players reacting to the actions in the commercial. The excuse for the content of the commercial was to “capture the attention of Snickers’ core consumers.”[1] Correctly identified by the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the suggestion that in order to be a man does not include kissing other men is completely reprehensible. The assertion that “core” Snickers consumers enjoyed the commercial completely alienates people of the LGBTQ community that may have enjoyed Snickers, and feeds into the ostracizing of people that identify as LGBTQ.

Unfortunately, in the chocolate industry the form of feminizing chocolate and the association of hetero-female sexuality is not a new phenomena. Though two men kissing is no less manly than whatever acts are considered manly, such as working on a car or causing physical pain to another man, Snickers looked to feminize the two men that accidentally kissed, claiming that such an action is not manly. Emma Robertson in Chocolate, Women, and Empire  identifies the early marketing of chocolate as being something that women consume and is reserved for heterosexual people.[2] The images of elegant women being courted by men were common images seen in advertising. However, the images and sexualization of women as it pertained to chocolate transformed into chocolate turning men to be “women-like” and, according to Snickers,  making men momentarily lose their sense of manhood.

How would portraying that message be quality a quality contributor to society? How would mocking the idea of men kissing, and isolating LGBTQ members be responsibly? With those heavy questions, one would imagine Snickers would not be such a tasteless decision twice. Think again. 


[1] Clark, Amy. “Snickers ‘Kiss’ Super Bowl Ad Pulled.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 11 Jan. 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snickers-kiss-super-bowl-ad-pulled/.

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

Getting Racial

One of Snickers’ latest commercials features singer-songwriter Elton John and rapper Anthony “Boogie” Dixson. The seemingly light-hearted transformation of an iconic pop star turned gritty rapper via Snickers has many racial implications that spans the chocolate confectionery market.

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Snickers ,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2qHuEs80Q

A close viewing of the commercial reveals many aspects that are racially charged. The setting of a lower-income household typically seen in the Los-Angeles suburban/urban areas is surrounded by typical scenery in many LA-based films. Individuals are casually dressed participating in different leisurely activities. When entering the household the viewer is met by the image of a group of people, mostly black, viewing a rap battle. The first person viewers see engaging in the battle is a black man dawning dread locks, and the crowd is reacting positively to his insults of the other participant. As the battle transitions to the other participant the viewer sees Elton John, an openly gay white-English performer, dressed in his typical flashy clothing. Predictably, as Elton John begins to sing one of his hit singles “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” the crowd reacts unfavorably. As expected Elton John is offered a Snickers to satisfy his apparent hunger and be the type of person that would fit into that sort of setting. With one bite of the Snickers Elton Johns turns into a straight black-American man, with the grittiness to fit into that environment.

There are many aspects to unpack in the commercial, but the three that are the most apparent are sexual orientation, race, and economic status. As unpacked before, the assertion that a gay person engaging in a seemingly manly or gritty activity is outside of their character is, again, an antiquated belief in society. Though not an explicitly stated portion of the commercial, it is an underlying message that a person could readily identify. Another, implied aspect in the commercial is that of economic status. Though chocolate initially was marketed as an exotic luxury only to be enjoyed by those in the elite classes, as it was widely manufactured and available to those in middle and lower classes, its identity has changed. As in the commercial, Elton John, a highly recognizable performer of high society is found out of place in a low income community. With one bite of the Snickers Sir Elton John transforms into everday rapper Boogie, someone that appears to fit perfectly into the lower community. From the differences in speech to the differences in clothing, Snickers implies the type of person that belongs in that community, and the class of people that would/should enjoy their affordable product.

Lastly, the image of a white man turning into a black man is one of the more racist images portrayed in chocolate marketing. The parallel between blackness and chocolate was a common theme in many early advertisements.

Rowntree’s Honeybunch,
https://chocolateclass.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/no-more-misogynoir-challenging-the-problematic-depictions-of-african-women-in-chocolate-advertising/



Tying the image of a stereotypical black children using the characters of Honeybunch and Little Coco to chocolate was a common practice in the early to mid-20th Century. From the appearance of dark skin and big lips, to the manner of speech, the black caricature developed was a popular and highly recognizable image.[1] However, the otherness portrayed in the Snickers ad is not one trying to portray an exotic foreignness, rather a familiarity. The image of a black person in the ghetto is supposed to be familiar to the international public. The portrayal of living in a lower-income community is supposed to be portrayed as a cool or hip experience, something that one bite of chocolate can help you experience without facing the real-world implications of it.

The racial, socioeconomic, and heterosexual themes played out in Snickers’ advertisements are a distant reality from the Quality and Responsibility that Mars claims to uphold. In fairness, Snickers does have commercials and ad campaigns that due reach that ideal, but that does not excuse the areas in which it could use much improvement.


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

Sustainability

As company that looks to act responsibly and has the freedom to make sustainable decisions, Snickers is not looked on favorably as a sustainable product. According to rankabrand data collected in 2016, Snickers received a D grade in sustainability. Rankabrand uses 28 questions/qualifiers for a sustainable product, Snickers only satisfied 8 of the qualifiers. The qualifiers are grouped into categories of Climate Change/Carbon Emissions, Labor Conditions/Fairtrade, and Environmental Policy.[1]


[1] https://rankabrand.org/chocolate-brands/Snickers#detailed-report

Snickers Sustainability,

https://rankabrand.org/chocolate-brands/Snickers#detailed-report

Such a low grade proves that Mars’ proclaimed commitment to leading the industry in sustainability is not met by action. Sustainability is not just how much a brand claims to commit to change, but where its commitment is placed. Failing to use a significant amount of renewable energy, failing to ensure to buy their raw materials from plantations that are certified to not use child labor, and failing to commit to reducing its carbon footprint to a significant amount are large enough factors to conclude Snickers failure as a sustainable industry leading brand.

Conclusion

Mars has a long road ahead of it before it can claim being an industry leader in the chocolate manufacturing industry. The award winning ad campaign is littered with images and themes that are reminiscent of a racist and bigoted past. While making allowance for jokes and humor, the suggestion of otherness when in relation to sexual orientation, gender, or race is unacceptable. Tapping into prejudices to increase revenues is not being a company of quality or responsibility. As a company that aims to be sustainable it largely falls short of even being average. Snickers’ status of being an industry leader in popularity of product is indisputable, its stronghold of the chocolate bar market is squarely secured with very little challenge from any other brand. But to what cost does Snickers retain its throne, who is Snickers when it’s hungry? Apparently, it is a company that speaks boldly about innovation but whose actions reflect one of a selfish manufacturer that is only worried about its profit margins. It is a company that doesn’t insure its products are free of slavery, it doesn’t make sure that its impact on the planet is minimal, and feeds into antiquated and dangerous stereotypes.

Works Cited

Clark, Amy. “Snickers ‘Kiss’ Super Bowl Ad Pulled.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 11 Jan. 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snickers-kiss-super-bowl-ad-pulled/.

CNBC, The Daily Meal. “America’s Favorite Chocolate Candies.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/americas-favorite-chocolate-candies.

Miller , James. “Case Study: How Fame Made Snickers’ ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ Campaign a Success.” Campaign US, 2016, http://www.campaignlive.com/article/case-study-fame-made-snickers-youre-not-when-youre-hungry-campaign-success/1413554.

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

One Man’s Treat, Another Man’s “Temporary Heaven”

For many, chocolate is a delightful treat for the occasional indulgence, but for Buster it is his every day meditation. Chocolate is the favorite part of his day because with one bite Buster says he is put into his “temporary heaven”. He also noted that “if there is no chocolate in heaven, [he] will not be happy.” When asked about his first experience with chocolate he remembers going to the store and sticking a penny into a gum machine and getting a gum ball with speckles. If you got a gum ball with speckles you got to trade it in for a nickel to purchase a small candy bar. Little Buster had the time of his life choosing that Snickers bar and sharing it with his grandmother. It is experiences like this that show the true relationship that people can have with food. One brand of chocolate can bring forth a multitude of emotions and memories.

3_Snickers_mini
When Buster was a child, one Snickers cost only one nickel. 

blots-gumballs-850-count-435.jpg
The store Buster visited had one cent, speckled gum balls that you could trade in for a Nickel to buy  a candy bar. 

 

While interviewing Buster, I discovered that some of his memories of chocolate brought tears to his eyes. His “darling sweetheart Cheryl” and he would only argue about how she spoiled her two daughters, unless he came home with a Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bar. That was  the one treat “she wouldn’t share with her kids”. Sadly, Cherly passed away before they could get married, but this memory they shared with chocolate still lives on with Buster today. Chocolate is a truly amazing part of our world because one combination of flavors can hold the dearest memories in peoples’ hearts.

 

3209305859_4d60af7d91
The favorite treat of Buster’s sweetheart. Hershey’s Symphony is milk chocolate filled with almonds and toffee chips. 

 

The nutritional value of chocolate and the healthy amount of chocolate people should consume daily has been debated over the years. Though chocolate is not labeled as a health food is has been proven to have benefits to people’s health. The Mayo Clinic states, “Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease (Zeratsky)”. Zeratsky goes into more detail to explain that,  “flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease,” and “Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.” It is these benefits of chocolate that avid chocolate eaters attribute as an “excuse” for their chocolate addictions. When Buster was asked if chocolate was healthy in a day-to-day diet, he answered, “yes most, and if it’s not I don’t care!” Buster eats chocolate every day and loves to journey into his favorite section of the candy aisle at Food Lion. The nutritional benefits of chocolate exist and though too much can cause weight gain and other health risks, a daily dose of chocolate certainly does not hurt with Buster being a true example.

Some people’s favorite part of chocolate is the delicious taste, but for Buster it is the benefit of meditation. With one piece of chocolate, he is able to “take [his] mind off [his] problems temporarily”. Chocolate has been proven to alleviate stress of many types. In 2009, a study found that the “consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate per day for two weeks decreased urinary  cortisol (an indicator of physiological stress levels) in participants with chronic stress (Osdoba, 242)”. Another study of chocolate consumption showed, “just three days of dark chocolate consumption resulted in decrease levels of psychological street captured by self-reported anxiety and depression (Osdoba, 242)”. The chocolate Buster uses to meditate is Hershey’s special dark chocolate with almonds nuggets. Chocolate is a perfect tool for meditation because not only is meditating helpful in reliving stress, but the combination of chocolate is only added to the major benefits of the stress relief.

 

hersheys_nuggets1
One nugget can be the perfect amount of chocolate for a short and relaxing meditation. 

 

pope_francis_i_chocolate_covered_oreo-rbaa50515244f431683337dd9bf45bdc1_zipmn_1024
Even today, Chocolate labels can be seen with the Pope on them. This is one example of a chocolate covered Oreo with the Pope on the packaging. 

Chocolate consumption can make people happy and feel good; that’s just one of the major benefits of it. For Buster, chocolate makes him “feel like [he is] enjoying one of the better aspects of life”. Buster even recalled from the Food Channel, that the Pope for years he was the only one to consume most of the chocolate. In fact, “in the 18th-century Italy, chocolate was the preferred drink of the Cardinals and they even had it brought in while they were electing a new Pope (Belardo)”. Though this was a special treat for the Cardinals, “chocolate was also rumored to have disguised a poison that killed Pope Clement XIV in 1774 (Belardo)”. In most cases, chocolate was always a great pleasure for the Pope and it was one “of the better aspects of life”. Historically, chocolate was only consumed by the elites at first because it was considered a high treat only for the best to consume. Chocolate is massed produced today and massed consumed, but the quality and enjoyment of it still remains in high status of many chocolate lovers’ lives.

While interviewing Buster, there was no doubt that he truly loved chocolate. He rated his favorite chocolate bar the Snickers a 10 out of 10; with all other chocolate bars having a score of 9 out of 10. Chocolate has helped in his favorite past time as well. Buster is an avid golfer and he finds the Snickers Bars to be a good source of energy on the golf course. “you eat them at the turn and have energy on the backside” while playing a round of golf. The only part of chocolate he does not like is when “you leave them in your golf bag too long in the summer time it melts and its hard to eat”. As one can easily see, Buster is dedicated to his chocolate consumption regularly and the only down fall is he craves it all the time.

must-have-chocolate
Funny images like these are made by people to show the feelings of people who crave chocolate and must have it immediately.

Chocolate cravings are very common for many people, and there is science behind why people crave this delicious delight. The Journal of Nutrition cites that, “chocolate is the most frequently craved food in North America (Yanovski)”. There are ingredients in chocolate that explain why this is true.  Several “studies describe psychoactive substances in chocolate, including theobromine (a weak central nervous system stimulant), anandamide (an endogenous cannabinoid), phenylethylamine (an amphetamine-like compound) and caffeine (Yanovski)”. Though the content of these substances is very low in chocolate it can still affect craving slightly. Chocolate cravings can also occur when the body is going through hormonal changes, for example women on their menstrual cycle (Yanovski). Cravings of chocolate are not people simply wanting their favorite treat, the science behind it shows that chocolate cravings are real and can happen to anyone. Simply watching a chocolate commercial can spark the cravings for many, but for Buster’s case he craves chocolate all the time.

1169124_1358297761063_full.jpgPreferences for the time when people eat chocolate can vary among consumers. Most would argue that people eat chocolate generally as a dessert after meals. While others enjoy chocolate as a snack, usually as an impulse buy at the cash register. Buster noted that he enjoyed eating chocolate after meals because the flavor lasts longer in his mouth. Much to everyone’s disappoint though, too much chocolate can be very bad for you all at once. One story Buster shared with me was how he made a record of eating eleven chocolate milkshakes in one day. Needless to say, he did get quite sick for a moment. Chocolate can be healthy for you and the amount you eat can all depend on when you eat it, but be sure you eat just the right amount to enjoy chocolate at its best.

Some of the greatest aspects of chocolate can be hidden behind the ingredients and packing. Food is a delight and basic necessity for living, and the most powerful part of it is that it has the power to bring people together. Chocolate is able to bring people together to form friendships that may not have happened without the bond of chocolate.Though Buster and I share a work place (and he had to pass my desk to get to his working space), we did not become great friends until he stumbled upon my chocolate textbook on my desk. I found him reading the cover and telling me how fascinated he is with chocolate and how much he absolutely loves eating it. From that day forward, several times a week he would leave chocolate on my desk or hand me some chocolate nuggets from his pockets. Sometimes we even end up exchanging chocolate bars. We now share a unique friendship bonded by our love of chocolate and the enjoyment of consuming the amazing taste of it.

Cites:

Belardo, Carolyn. “Chocolate-history.” Drexel University. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Blots Gumballs – 850 Count.” Blots Berry Gumballs. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Candyrageous » Blog Archive » Hershey’s Symphony.” Candyrageous RSS. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Chocolate Milkshake.” Recipes Hubs. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Hershey®’s Extra Dark and Hershey®’s Special Dark® Dark Chocolate Review.” The WiC Project Faith Free Giveaways Product Reviews Recipes. N.p., 24 Feb. 2010. Web.
“Made At RGU.” : Smart Food Swaps & Alternatives To Chocolate! N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web.
Osdoba, Katie E., Traci Mann, Joseph P. Redden, and Zata Vickers. “Using Food to Reduce Stress: Effects of Choosing Meal Components and Preparing a Meal.” Food Quality and Preference 39 (2015): 241-50. Web.
“Pope Francis Chocolate and Treats.” Zazzle. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Snickers®.” Snickers®. N.p., n.d. Web.
Yanovski, Susan. “Journal of Nutrition.” Sugar and Fat: Cravings and Aversions. N.p., 2003. Web.
Zeratsky, Katherine, R.D., L.D. “Can Chocolate Be Good For My Health?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 06 Dec. 2014. Web.

Clever, But Could Use Some Retouching

Sports Illustrated 1

Ever the low hanging fruit for criticism with its consistently controversial “You’re not you when you’re hungry” advertisement campaign, the 2016 Snickers series has picked up where the 2015 ads left off. In the latest installment, a pair of full-page advertisements for the candy bar featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition provides a generous addition to the off-color collection of commercials (Sports Illustrated). Through its objectification of women in their Sports Illustrated advertisements, Snickers unleashes a particularly sinister technique to unabashedly exploit the inclinations of its target audience and propagate a new slant on the industry-wide motif of the use of attractive women to sell chocolate.

The original advertisement shown above effortlessly blends with the genre of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Located on the back cover of the annual periodical, at first glance, the full-page advert appears to be another glamorous photograph of a model. However, upon closer examination, Snickers logos in the bottom right and top left are surrounded with the now familiar phrasing, “Photo Retouchers Get Confused When They’re Hungry.” Further scrutiny reveals an eerily placed hand on the model’s right shoulder, a hastily deleted handbag in her left hand, and a misaligned horizon – supposedly evidence of the “confused” photo retouchers.

070087-italy-mona-lisaInitial reactions to this advertisement are of amusement. The bodiless hand is merely “creepy,” the handbag a comical oversight, and the skewed horizons another example of the rushed production. The reader may even be impressed if this last miscue is a cleverly veiled reference to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (da Vinci). It is more likely merely a coincidence. However, scrupulous readings reveal a more sinister, sexist undertone.

Interestingly, in this piece we do not encounter the now more common manipulation of attractive women within a chocolate advertisement. Described by Emma Robertson in her writings regarding the feminization of chocolate consumption in the west, this theme is not present (Robertson 20). Rather than depicting a beautiful woman caught in the throes of chocolate ecstasy, the advertisement is shifted. The woman featured is not “irrational, narcissistic or excessively aroused due to chocolate” (Martin). While that genre of advertisements typically targets women, the intended audience, in this case, is men. The women serve only as props in their scene. They are merely the products in the photo retouchers’ jobs, which leads to two underlying insults:

  • First, the women are clearly objectified, merely a tool within the ad.
  • Secondly, the creators backhandedly imply that significant editing was used on every other woman featured in the publication.

snickers 1 edited

In my own appropriately poorly PhotoShopped rendition of the advertisement, I replace the message in the top left of the page with “Our Ad Dept Gets a Little Sexist When They’re Hungry.” While neither a new nor original critique of this multi-year Snickers campaign, the goal with these words is to humanize the people responsible for its edification. While the ascription of hunger to anonymous “photo retouchers” partially employs this strategy, it separates the advertisement’s owners, Mars Inc, from the “confused” mistakes the ad highlights. To correct this split, my words are intended to place responsibility definitively upon the firm who created the advertisement. While unlikely to sell many Snickers bars, I find it a more honest statement.

While clever at a casual glance, this Snickers advertisement provides a new variety of objectification of women within the chocolate industry. Successful in humanizing the magazine’s production through the relatable feeling of hunger by its “retouchers”, the advertisement’s creators dehumanize the women featured. Without complete naiveté to the much larger debate surrounding the entire Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition institution and calls for its advertisers’ boycott (Shields, 182), this Snickers advertisement could do more to promote the role of women it features and avoid insult to their trade. The ad campaign could use some retouching.

Sports Illustrated 2

Works Cited

da Vinci, Leonardo. “Mona Lisa – Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco Del Giocondo.” 1503. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/mona-lisa-portrait-lisa-gherardini-wife-francesco-del-giocondo>

Martin, Carla. “AAAS E-119 Lecture 9: Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. 2016. Lecture.

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

Shields, Vickie Rutledge. Measuring Up: How Advertising Affects Self-Image. University of Pennsylvania, 2001. Print.

Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. February 2016. Time Inc.

 

The Many Problems of One Snickers Ad

The Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign has many problems. It often draws humor from an outdated male/female dichotomy, is unfairly dismissive of negative emotions, and depicts unhappy characters placated by chocolate. A much more responsible way for Snickers to execute their “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ads would be through absurdist humor.

All of the problems of the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign can be seen in one of the most recent “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ads: “Marilyn”.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.52.20 PMWatch the full ad here!

This ad takes place on the recreated set from The Seven Year Itch, the film that gave American pop culture the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe holding down her dress over a subway grate. Pre-Snickers Marilyn Monroe is played by Willem Dafoe. Post-Snickers Marilyn Monroe is digitally recreated out of actual footage of Marilyn Monroe.The ad follows the usual “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” structure: it opens on a cranky, pre-Snickers Marilyn Monroe who, after being given a Snickers bar, becomes a beautiful and very agreeable post-Snickers Marilyn Monroe.

The first, very obvious problem with this ad is that it derives humor from pre-Snickers Marilyn Monroe being depicted as a gruff man. It’s important to note that there is nothing inherently wrong with Marilyn Monroe being played by Willem Dafoe. However using different genders to imply radical differences has serious implications in our society today: it reinforces a gross oversimplification of gender and the traditional dichotomous gender paradigm (that is oppressive[1]).

The second problem with this ad is its dismissal of negative emotions. After pre-Snickers Marilyn Monroe complains about having to stand on a grate with heels on, she is approached with a Snickers bar and told “you get a little cranky when you’re hungry”. The fact that Marilyn Monroe’s complaining is taken as crankiness that could only be caused by hunger normalizes the dismissal of bad moods as simple moments of irrationality. This is unhealthy for our culture; research has shown that taking the time to understand negative emotions can be essential for mental health[2].

The last problem with this ad is directly tied to the dismissal of negative emotions. This ad falls into the toxic trope of showing somebody unhappy quickly placated through an easy solution. In real life, these “quick fixes” almost always leave underlying issues unaddressed and may cause greater problems later on. As noted above, a greater understanding of negative emotions would be preferable. Additionally, in this ad, the presented “quick fix” is even more problematic because Marilyn Monroe is a woman who, given chocolate, becomes “reasonable” again. Scenarios where “crazed/unhappy” women are “sedated/pleasured” with chocolate are common in chocolate ads[3] and unhealthy for our society as they continue the grand old tradition of dismissing and/or easily manipulating women.

After exploring the many problems of Hershey’s “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, it might seem as if there is no way to save it. However- good news! –that’s absolutely false. The secret to solving the many problems of these ads is to simply turn to absurdist humor. For example, have pre-Snickers Marilyn Monroe be a tree:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.08.28 PM

Given a Snickers bar, the tree could become a wonderful, post-Snickers Marilyn Monroe. A similar approach to all “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ads would eliminate tricky problems with dismissal of negative emotion and representation of gender and derive humor from sheer ridiculousness.

(Also, let’s be honest: Willem Dafoe being Marilyn? Kind of funny. An ad in which somebody offers a tree a Snickers bar and says, “Marilyn, you’re not you when you’re hungry”? Very, very funny.)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

[1] Burdge, B. J. “Bending Gender, Ending Gender: Theoretical Foundations for Social Work Practice with the Transgender Community.” Social Work52.3 (2007): 243-50. Web.

[2] Rodriguez, Tori. “Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being.” Scientific American. Nature America, Inc, May 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

[3] Martin, Carla D. “Women Alone with Chocolate in TV Commercials.” : Bittersweet Notes. WordPress, 7 June 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.als

The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate

Mars’ global confectionery sales was a whopping $18.4 billion USD in 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), more than doubling Hershey’s sales of the same year.[1] An impressive feat given that Mars is still family owned, the 3rd richest family in America, in fact.[2] To maintain its global dominance, the company heavily invests in advertisement. In the 3 years leading up to 2013, Mars spent an estimated $7.28 billion worldwide, using the familiar trope of linking their products to Hollywood celebrities.[3] For its 2016 Snickers campaign, aired during the 50th edition of the NFL Super Bowl, the company once again featured a host of iconic figures, this time including Willem Dafoe and Marilyn Monroe. See their Snicker ad below:


(Source: YouTube)[4]

This is not, by any means, Mars’ first attempt at associating its products with familiar faces. For its 2013 UK Galaxy campaign, the chocolate giant contracted with the world’s best, AMV BBDO (ad agency) and Framestore (special effects), bringing Audrey Hepburn “back to life” to promote their products in the UK.

(Source: YouTube)[5]

But who are the true faces behind chocolate? Who are the real celebrities responsible for providing the world with one of its most favorite treat? Albeit Mars’ promise of taking “very seriously” the marketing of their brand, “providing you and your family with suitable and transparent information about [their] products,” they have, in my eyes, grossly misrepresented the true heroes behind chocolate.[6] May I present, as an alternative to Mars’, my own original ad below, depicting some of “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.”


(Source: Prezi.com)[7]

Unlike those chosen by Mars in its Snicker ad, or like those chosen by many of the other chocolate companies for their campaigns, the stars in my counter ad portray a range of contrasting complexions, are not primarily Caucasian, and hail from a vastly different socioeconomic stratum.

How does Mars, in 2016, in good conscience, create a Super Bowl commercial, primarily directed to an American audience, without featuring a single person of color, given that “African-Americans… currently comprise 67.3% of the league’s players,” according to sports and entertainment attorney Jaia Thomas.[8] There is much irony to Mars’ homogeneous selection of ethnicity, especially given that the Global South, who are primarily non-Caucasian, grows 100% of the world’s cacao. People of color were therefore intentionally included in my ad to appropriately and responsibly represent the many hues and races who are at the core of the chocolate supply chain, Mars’ included.

Mars attempts to associate their product with fame, affluence, and eroticism, using the iconic imagery of one of Hollywood’s most memorable senses. Yet it is Willem Dafoe, another iconic celebrity, who is in the famous white dress standing over the subway grate. It’s only after his cranky ranting that he takes a bite of the Snickers bar and once again becomes Marilyn Monroe. It is an obvious tongue-in-cheek attempt by the company to hearken back to the “good ole days.” The quintessential cantankerous, white, male director refers to the only woman on the set as “sweetheart.” Dafoe takes a bite of the bar and is transformed back to the beauty of the “true woman” that Monroe represents: doe-eyed, coquettish, sensuous and vacuous. The ad portrays a woman who is only likable if she eats chocolate, but unsightly and manly when she complains. Mars unfortunately falls into the sexist, racist, and classist trappings of so many other marketing schemes.

My ad was created to hopefully push back on these shortcomings. It was created to heighten public awareness of some of the true faces behind cacao production and its supply chain, depicting the beautiful and vibrant colors of not only the pod themselves, but also the farmers that come from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. In contrast to the Mars ad, the women in my ad are not monomorphic, they bear a range of shapes and sizes. The women are hardworking, people of the earth, not affected by over-grooming, and are comprised of various ages. My intention was to portray a truer depiction of the women who are intrinsically involved in the world’s chocolate making.

I also wish to illustrate the wealth disparity between cacao growers and Mars. And furthermore, hope to underscore the vast socioeconomic disconnect between these rich chocolate companies and their marketing strategies versus the earnings of cacao growers. In 2014, the chocolate industry grew to a record high of $100 billion, growing by $20 billion in a single year, according to the European Campaign for Fair Chocolate.[9] While cacao growers, on the other hand, earned less than they once did in the 1980s, currently at $1.25/day, a meager six cents on the dollar from the finish product.[10] In other words, these massive chocolate companies, in particular Mars, have profited greatly these past decades, while the earnings of millions of impoverished men, women and children have diminished.

nigeria-cocoawomen-ous_-1220x763
Most cacao growers earn less than $1.25 USD per day. This Nigerian woman, depicted here, is part of Oxfam’s program, “Behind the Brands” campaign in order to support women cocoa farmers in Africa. (Source: Oxfam America)[11]

Addressing such issues as sexism, racism and classism is complex. It calls for a rigorous and courageous examination of the systemic social reproduction of skewed ideals and misrepresentations of others. These issues involve policy changes from all levels of society, including the smallest jurisdiction of cacao shareholders at the local level, all the way up to the national level, and supported by international accords to guide good practices at every stage of the final product, explains chocolate scholar Dr. Carla Martin.[12] And that includes marketing. Mars does not bare the full onus of bringing about that change. We must all play our part, growers, manufacturers, consumers and governments alike. Nonetheless, because of Mars’ global position, the company must bare its share of responsibilities, and must strive to become a proactive player in effecting change. And that can first begin with a rethinking of their marketing campaigns, to communicate a message that is gender empowering, positive and fair, a message to affect both consumers and competitors alike.

Footnotes:
[1] “The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?,” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016, http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

[2] “Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families,” Business News, Forbes, accessed April 8, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

[3] “Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014,” Statista, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

[4] SnickersBrand, SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

[5] Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

[6] “Snickers®,” Snickers, 2016, https://www.snickers.com/.

[7] Edward Enriquez, “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate,” Prezi, April 7, 2016, https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

[8] Jaia Thomas, “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL,” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014, http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

[9] “Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers,” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate, accessed April 8, 2016, http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Frank Mechielsen, “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers,” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014, http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

[12] Carla D Martin, “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor” (Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016). See also her blog, Bittersweet Notes, to learn more about chocolate, culture, and the politics of food.

Work Cited

Audrey Hepburn: Galaxy Chocolate Commercial, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9eDoS76LM.

“Bittersweet Notes.” Open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. Bittersweet Notes | Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, 2016. http://bittersweetnotes.com/.

“Cocoa Prices and Income of Farmers.” Make Chocolate Fair! European Campaign for Fair Chocolate. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://makechocolatefair.org/issues/cocoa-prices-and-income-farmers-0.

Enriquez, Edward. “The Real Celebrities Behind Chocolate.” Prezi, April 7, 2016. https://prezi.com/avzqbzhyhvcw/the-real-celebrities-behind-chocolate/.

“Mars Family | 2015 America’s Richest Families.” Business News. Forbes. Accessed April 8, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/profile/mars-1/.

“Mars Inc.advertising Spending Worldwide from 2011 to 2014.” Statista, 2016. http://www.statista.com/statistics/286558/mars-inc-advertising-spending-worldwide/.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 6: Slavery Abolition and Forced Labor.” presented at the Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food, Harvard University, March 9, 2016.

Mechielsen, Frank. “New Ways to Sweeten the Deal for Women Cocoa Farmers.” Oxfam America | The Politics of Poverty Blog, June 19, 2014. http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/06/new-ways-sweeten-deal-women-cocoa-farmers/.

“Snickers®.” Snickers, 2016. https://www.snickers.com/.

SnickersBrand. SNICKERS® – “Marilyn,” 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhfntLl6xx0.

“The Chocolate Industry: Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Chocolate in the World?” International Cocoa Organization, January 28, 2016. http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/chocolate-industry.html.

Thomas, Jaia. “In Black and White: A Racial Breakdown of the NFL.” UPTOWN Magazine, October 1, 2014. http://uptownmagazine.com/2014/10/racial-breakdown-of-the-nfl-report-card/.

Snickers and Sexism: How Far is too Far in Advertising?

Snickers-Boxing-Gloves

Figure 1,Retrieved from: Snickers.com

 

The chocolate bar Snickers, which is a brand of the Mars corporation, began an advertising campaign featuring several advertisements which used the tagline “YOU’RE NOT YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” (Waxman, 2014). In these advertisements the Mars corporation attempts to make light out of how individuals, primarily men, behave when they are hungry portraying them as acting in a manner which is unlike who they would normally behave when they are not hungry (Snickers, 2016). Despite the intentional shock value that these ads evoke (Waxman, 2014), several underlying themes are portrayed in the advertisements including loss of control over an individual’s behavior, the over-sexualization of women, and, in the example used in figure 1, possibly portrays domestic violence towards women. This blog post will focus on an analysis of the advertisement from the campaign in figure 1 as it is compared to an original created advertisement portrayed in figure 2 that was created to depict the Snickers product in a manner that does not stereotype, over-sexualize, or condone domestic violence towards women and portrays the Snickers product for what it actually is, a food product.

 

IMG_0675

Figure 2. Original Work Advertisement

 

In the original advertisement portrayed in figure 1, the actors consist on a woman dressed in a bra and underwear with the arms of another individual that probably belong to a man based on the visual factors used including arm hair (Waxman, 2014). The woman appears to be standing in a seductive sexual pose with her eyes closed and holding her hair as if she is welcoming the man to take her bra off. The man in the image seems to be having trouble removing her bra because he is wearing boxing gloves. Above the boxing gloves is the caption “YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY” that is intended to make several inferences to him being unable to remove her bra and continue with the assumed sexual activity that they appear to be beginning to engage in. The advertisement does not show or detail any representation to the product, what it looks like, has in it, or even that it is a food product. Several problems exist with this advertisement, mainly that the advertisement uses sex to sell a chocolate bar. Additionally, the advertisement also could promote violence toward women because the man is wearing boxing gloves, a product that is worn during a fight, perhaps implying that he is ready to fight her. Because the woman is facing away from the man the theme of potential violence could be fueled based on the fact that she has her eyes closed it could appear that she is afraid of what he may do as he prepares to hit her, perhaps out of his frustration at not being able to remove her bra.

 

In the advertisement in figure 2, the original work advertisement, a Snickers chocolate bar is portrayed as broken down into its four main parts, chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and nougat (Snickers, 2016). In the advertisement a question is posed if the individual reading it is hungry, beginning with a story for the reader as they see four bowls of items that when added together equal satisfaction from hunger with a Snickers bar being shown at the bottom which is what all of the ingredients look like when added together. This advertisement, unlike the advertisement featuring the woman and the man’s arms, does not portray any people, only the product being advertised. Because the original work advertisement does not portray people and it does not make any reference to people it does not sexualize or degrade women like the original advertisement does that sexualizes women and promotes domestic violence.

 

The advertisement campaign run by the Mars Corporation to sell Snickers chocolate bars has been referred to as being edgy, using bold eye catching views to capture the attention of the readers of the advertisements (MB, 2014). Despite the success of the Snickers campaign many of the advertisements have created negative media attention to the product because of the sexual, violent, stereotypical nature of the ads (Waxman, 2014). Backlash against the advertisements has not only come from community groups against domestic violence and racial discrimination but from other chocolate companies as well such as Cadbury which released an advertisement campaign called #BOOSTNUTS where their competing chocolate bar to the Snickers bar is portrayed in a non-sexual or demeaning fashion (figure 3). The competing advertisement campaign is meant to boost awareness to the sexism that exists in product advertisements, including chocolate advertisements done by the Mars Corporation.

boost-sexism

Figure 3, Retrieved from: http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

 

While the debate against sexism is important, and it is positive that Cadbury brought it to light, the root problem is that the Mars Corporation believed they did nothing wrong with their advertisement campaign (Chambers, 2014). The comments form the Mars Corporation regarding the backlash of the advertisement is an outward display of how the mindset of the general public has become more accepting of sexual references, violent scenes, and discrimination being used in advertisements (Chacko, 2016). Unless the trend and patterns of consumer behavior changes based on advertising motivating behavior companies will continue to use sex and violence in their advertisements and the discrimination, stereotypes, sexual innuendo, and over-sexualization of violence will continue to be prevalent in main stream advertisements (Liston, 2014).

 

References

Chacko, R. (2016). The Mystery of Sex in Advertising | Commonplace. Retrieved April 06, 2016, from http://www.mhlearningsolutions.com/commonplace/index.php?q=node/5957

Chambers, B. (2014). Street harassment commonly used in ads. Retrieved April 07, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/street-harassment-commonly-used-in-ads-1.2857428

Liston, M. (2014). Snickers’ ‘Anti-Gender Bias’ ad gets all the wrong attention. Retrieved April 08, 2016, from http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100760/Snickers-Anti-Gender-Bias-ad-gets-all-the-wrong-attention

MB. (2014). Snickers – Ad Analysis. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://snickersad.blogspot.com/

Waxman, O. (2014). This Snickers Ad Manages to Be Sexist to Both Men and Women. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://time.com/40255/snickers-ad-manages-to-be-sexist-to-both-men-and-women/

 

 

Unwrapping Chocolate Potential in the East: How Foreign Companies Wooed Chinese Consumers

Chocolate was introduced to Europe in the 16th century but it was not until the end of the 20th century that the godly good made its way to China. By the end of the 20th century, China had undergone dramatic social and economic expansion, and the world’s largest chocolate companies (the “Big Five”: Ferrero SpA, Cadbury, Hershey Co., Nestlé SA, and Mars Inc.) recognized the potential of introducing chocolate to the Chinese market (Allen 202). At the time however, chocolate had no history or tradition in China, thus highlighting the importance of finding a meaningful way of introducing the good. The “Big Five” companies needed to have a profound understanding of cultural differences in order to do so (Nelson). Moreover, these companies faced numerous challenges in regards to supply chain management and distribution. Depicting how global chocolate companies attempted to gain commercial success in China highlights the intricate nature of developing into an emerging market. This also enhances our understanding of the strategies these companies will embrace as they expand further.

chocolate-heart
Gift Giving – A Cultural Gateway

Culinary traditions were very different in China and chocolate companies were challenged to find a meaningful way of introducing chocolate to the Chinese market (Allen 23). The big five chocolate companies recognized that gift giving was universal throughout China and could serve as the cultural gateway for introducing chocolate. With this is mind, chocolate companies targeted their marketing efforts toward affluent Chinese consumers and developed elaborate packaging designs to appeal to this consumer base (Allen 25).

Although many affluent Chinese consumers were willing to justify the expense of chocolate for gift giving, chocolate companies recognized that self-consumption could generate even greater profits across a variety of social classes. In established markets in other countries, self-consumption accounts for approximately 90 percent of total sales (Allen 26). In China in the 90s however, gift giving accounted for more than 50 percent of total sales, thus highlighting enormous potential for expansion into the self-consumption market! China’s economy grew substantially in the 1990s and consumers subsequently started having more pocket money. In addition, young Chinese started familiarizing themselves with Western culture and food. These social and economic changes conveniently facilitated the introduction of chocolate to the mass market in China (Allen 27).

Mars’s Master Strategy

Today, the American company Mars is the leading chocolate business in China and a number of factors allowed Mars to get ahead of its competitors. First, Mars introduced the Dove chocolate bar, the earliest chocolate product aimed for self-consumption (Allen 200). This bar allowed Mars to establish legitimacy and build loyalty among young Chinese people (Allen 21). Moreover, Mars has embraced an aggressive expansion strategy of manufacturing in China along with aggressive media and marketing initiatives primarily to build up its Dove and Snickers brand (Lannes and Blasberg)

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.59.42 PM
Mars was the official sponsor and exclusive supplier of chocolate bars during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, representing one of many successful recent marketing initiatives.

In addition to recognizing the value of branding, Mars has also undergone some organizational changes that lowered distribution costs. The recent acquisition of the gum company Wrigley’s, resulted in the formation of the leading retail confectionary company and gave Mars extensive distribution and sales operations networks (Allen 211-212). This recent merger ultimately allowed Mars to strengthen the company’s position as the leading chocolate company in China.

This campaign, which encourages consumers to create a love art piece by using Dove’s boxes, went viral on social media, exemplifying the success of Mars’s marketing efforts.

Looking Ahead

Today, the Chinese chocolate market represents a relatively small share of global chocolate consumption. However, the country’s sales potential is huge, given that a larger proportion of the country’s population is becoming potential chocolate consumers (Allen 202; Cohen). During the last three decades, the “Big Five” companies have built brand awareness and it seems unlikely that other global chocolate companies will be able to break into the market (Allen 22). Although local Chinese competitors have lower operating costs and can thus set lower prices, it seems unlikely that these companies are an immense threat to the “Big Five” (Allen 213).

China’s market has enormous growth potential and there are two major strategies that chocolate companies can adopt to strengthen their position. First, chocolate companies should sustain business in first-tier cities and fine-tune sales and marketing efforts (Allen 202; Nelson). Secondly, chocolate companies should consider expanding to second-tier cities (Allen 202; Nelson). Supermarkets represent a new exciting distribution channel, but it will be imperative to address challenges in regards to infrastructure and product innovation to respond to the preferences and price-point of the new consumer base.

To wrap up, there is seemingly no simple recipe for success but companies that are sensitive to the varied demands of the Chinese consumers are more likely to unleash the full potential of the market.

HD16365-1.jpg

 

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. Print.

Cohen, Luc. “China Chocolate Market Seen Growing to $4.3bln by 2019-Hershey.” Reuters. 18 February 2015. Web. 11 March 2016.

Lannes, Bruno, and John Blasberg. “Gold Medal Brands.” Bain & Company Insights. July 1 2008. Web. 11 March. 2016.

Nelson, Christina. “Chocolate Fortunes.” China Business Review. July 1 2008. Web. 11 March 2016.

Media Sources

Chocolate candy hearts. Digital Image. http://torange.biz/16365.html. Web. 11 March. 2016

Chocolate Heart. Digital Image. http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=20869&picture=chocolate-heart. Web. 11 March. 2016.

Kestrel Lee. “Dove Chocolate’s Valentine’s Day Campaign”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 9 January 2012. Web. March 11. 2016.

Snickers hospitality Team. Digital Image. http://www.sportsworld.co.uk/clients/snickers-beijing-olympics-2008. Web. 11 March. 2016

 

Snickers Male Sexism

With the increasing prevalence of gender stereotypes in the marketing that is bombarded at us today, there is commonly a focus placed on the female side of the problem. Particularly in the realm of chocolate advertising, women are often portrayed as individuals highly influenced by chocolate’s seduction, as well as objects of desire acting to enhance the attraction of the chocolate itself. However, it is important and revealing to also acknowledge a parallel issue that lies on the opposite end of the gender stereotype spectrum. With a series of chocolate advertisements released by Snickers, a brand of chocolate made by Mars, there is ample evidence to show that men are stereotyped as loud, impolite, dumb, shallow brutes who overly care about satisfying their carnal desires, to name a few. A close analysis of these advertisements brings to light many of these negative and demeaning messages about men.

Figure 1
Figure 1.

In the following Snickers advertisement, a male construction worker wearing a yellow hardhat is shown with a statement above his head and a punchline below. The man appears to be quite rugged and burly with his facial hair and noticeable occupation. The brown background color caters more to a masculine audience and also conveniently matches well with the color of a chocolate Snickers Bar. By stating the underlying premise that “you’re not you when you are hungry” (Figure 1), this advertisement claims that men generally do not greet attractive women with polite silence. It is obviously not true that all men act this way towards women, but yet this advertisement negatively puts the male gender in this category, possibly targeting an audience that is proud to call this stereotype truth. Two similar ads released as part of the same campaign are no better.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 2. / Figure 3.

As seen above, men in these two instances seem to be depicted as shallow and highly sexually driven creatures. Whether it’s the emphasis on undressing a woman or engaging in multiple relationships, both likely for the sake of sexual endeavors, it is rather unfair to say that this is just “who we are”. Elizabeth Plank, a Policy Mic writer, describes a Snickers commercial that aired in Australia and again had this same theme. Construction workers are shown shouting empowering statements to women as a parody of what they would actually say were they not hungry. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the controversial video has been made private, but her criticism of it is telling, “On the other, the men are portrayed as presumably idiotic, disgusting and flat-out predatorial in their natural state” (Plank). David Gianatasio from AdWeek also lashed out at the ad, commenting, “By saying blue-collar guys ‘aren’t themselves’ when they’re being polite, it pretty clearly implies they’re otherwise a bunch of misogynistic boors” (Gianatasio).

Figure 4
Figure 4.

In an effort to combat this damaging stereotype of men rendered for the sake of selling a chocolate bar, my partner and I decided to redesign the first advertisement referenced in this post. Instead of using the existing face, we replaced it with an image of a more common and potentially more sophisticated looking man. The statement above his head has also been reversed, now implying that “rude cat calls” are not the default greetings for women, but rather the exact opposite. The new ad does not play on a degrading male stereotype and works to respect those that strive to treat women with respect.

In many ways, the problems found in this ad campaign done by Snickers are representative of a larger systemic trend plaguing chocolate advertising that crosses both gender and class boundaries. Emma Robertson describes the overall phenomena in her work Chocolate, Women and Empire, saying “Adverts offer ways of using commodities such as chocolate to say things about ourselves, our families, our social world. They also position us in relation to that product as gendered, classed, and raced beings” (Robertson 19). In the advertising for this particular product, we not only see a male stereotype at play, but other underlying themes as well. Milk chocolate, the type used in Snickers Bars, is commonly cited as favored among the working classes, as compared to dark chocolate being favored by higher classes (Robertson 29). The chocolate bar form is also often associated with consumers who are busy and on-the-go, implying a working and non-domestic lifestyle catered towards men (Robertson 24). Jane Dusselier points out in Candy, and the Construction of Gender,that “while women’s candy was seen as a dainty, sensual treat, men’s candy was marketing as having more of a purpose to its consumption” (Inness). For Snickers, the purpose of chocolate seems to be unleashing natural crude male qualities against women. Indeed, these problems are just two sides of the same sexist coin. Women on one end, men on the other. It will be nice to see the day when a bridge can begin to cross this chasm.

 

Multimedia:

Figure 1) http://www.arenakain.com/You-re-Not-You

Figure 2) http://www.arenakain.com/You-re-Not-You

Figure 3) http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/eat-a-snickers-unhook-a-bra/

Figure 4) User created content

 

References:

Dusselier, Jane. Bonbons, Lemon Drops, and Oh Henry! Bars: Candy, Consumer Culture, and the Construction of Gender, 1895 – 1920 (13-50), in Sherrie A. Inness (ed.) Kitchen Culture in America (2001) Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Gianatasio, David. “Construction Workers Yell Messages of Empowerment to Women in Snickers Stunt.” AdWeek. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Plank, Elizabeth. “This Offensive Snickers Ad Accidentally Shows Exactly How Sexism Hurts Men.” Mic. N.p., 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Robertson, E. (2009): Chocolate, women, and empire.  Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

Chocolate as a Luxury throughout the Ages

Today’s modern chocolate consumer revels in the extravagance of a society determined to have more than it can ever need, buy more than it can ever afford, and eat more than it can ever want, especially when it comes to chocolate. This newfound availability of a good once regarded as luxury, has now transformed chocolate to what many now consider mere candy. Gone are the nutrition, originality, and reverence once associated with the “food of the gods,” and what is left is nothing more than a sweet treat tainted with excessive amounts fat and cheap additives (Parkin, “What Are You Eating: Snickers”). And although many celebrate the “revolutionary” progression of chocolate from a food of the elite to one now accessible by all, the idea that chocolate is ubiquitous cannot be further from the truth. In fact, chocolate is still exclusive to the highest social classes, a luxury good through and through, and even with the worldwide rise in chocolate production, pure, high quality chocolate – that of which is now labeled as “artisan” or “craft” – is almost solely intended for elite consumption.

While the well-to-do savor their “bean-to-bars,” the general population must settle with the everyday “Hershey’s kisses” or “Milky ways,” poor substitutes that were created to satisfy the masses (Parkin, “What Are You Eating: Snickers”). Nevertheless, the degree to which this dichotomy extends is but a reflection of the past. The social arrangements observed today parallel that of previous societies throughout history, from the Aztec’s strict confinement of chocolate consumption within their social elite to the European’s emphasis on reserving the food for the upper class; the continuation of these previously observed patterns, as embodied by the range of products offered by vendors on either end of the social spectrum, indicates that chocolate still remains the luxury food it has always been, a source of indulgence for the rich and a commodity to strive towards for the poor (Coe, Coe 86-87, 159-160).

One does not need to venture very far into the chocolate industry to experience the glaring disparity between the quality of chocolate offered in the everyday convenience store and that of a gourmet, specialty shop. Here in Boston, the two are represented by the local CVS and South End’s very own Formaggio’s Kitchen, the first of which is a popular retailer across the US whereas the latter exists only in one other location – the elite community of New York City’s urban sprawl. Thus, before the chocolate itself is even considered, the sheer accessibility of these respective markets indicates the type of merchandise sold at each. It is no surprise then that the chocolate products offered at CVS differs not only in composition, but also in price and packaging from the luxury bars organized in neat rows at Formaggio’s.

CVS Display
The wide variety of brand name chocolate offered at a CVS Pharmacy

CVS Caremark is one of the largest pharmacy convenience stores in the country and because it caters to all of society, everywhere, the retailer must offer a wide range of commodities to satisfy their broad clientele. In other words, they must stock their shelves with every type of brand name chocolate produced here in the States; from “Snickers” bars produced by Mars to the iconic “Hershey’s” milk chocolate bar produced by Hershey itself, CVS has it all (Hess, “Most Popular Halloween Candy in the USA”). However, although the diversity offered at any one of these convenience stores is impressive, the majority of their chocolate shares a single commonality: they are all composed entirely of milk chocolate, often supplemented with a large proportion of butter, unwarranted amounts of sugar, extra flavoring like vanilla, and other fillings such as nougat for the popular “Milky Way” (“Candy and Chocolate Bars Compared: Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars Nutrition Facts”; Parkin, “What Are You Eating: Snickers”). Many would argue that the added contents are what make these products as well-known as they have become, and even more claim that they crave this type of chocolate specifically for the peanut-caramel insides. Unfortunately for these misguided individuals, the reality is that these very fillings are exactly what prevents the typical “Reese’s” peanut butter cup from serving as a healthy addition to one’s life, and instead makes them the cheap, fattening candy that the average consumer can afford (“Candy and Chocolate Bars Compared: Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars Nutrition Facts”). This practice of mixing inexpensive ingredients into chocolate to help make it more affordable is analogous to the origins of chocolate consumption in Mesoamerica, setting the precedent that impure chocolate is associated with lower quality food (Coe, Coe 86-87; Presilla 20). In fact, the Aztecs, in preparing cacao, recognized that “the inferior product…was mixed with nixtamalli and water” to form a “chocolate-with-maize gruel,” but if the mixture was “cheapened by too much corn or thinned with too much water,” then all of the “effort would be for naught” (Coe, Coe 86-87; Presilla 20). The same concept has returned in modern form, and even though society has moved past the practice of combining corn and chocolate, the artificial ingredients used now are both worse and in larger quantity. As such, the brand name chocolate that dominates the market today are not what they all claim to be – rather than serving as energy-boosting power bars, these candies are the epitome of second-rate scraps, the culmination of the industry’s sly advertising and deceit (Hess, “Most Popular Halloween Candy in the USA”).

Snickers Chocolate nutrition information includes many artificial ingredients
Snickers nutrition information includes many artificial ingredients

The goods offered at CVS can be identified for their lower quality merely by taking a look down the aisle; all of the chocolate is sold in bulk, the wrappings are colorful and meant to entice children, and the price tags that accompany any purchase fail to draw attention as well (Hess, “Most Popular Halloween Candy in the USA”). Indeed, everything chocolate at the convenience store is affordable and cheap, and it is fitting that the majority of these products are regarded as mere candy. This type of marketing in itself is suggestive of the type of goods advertised to the common shopper. Nowhere in the store will one find pure, gourmet chocolate like that from Formaggio’s Kitchen; instead, Halloween candy, sweets to be given out, and maybe a small treat on the go is all that is offered at CVS (Hess, “Most Popular Halloween Candy in the USA”). While there is nothing wrong with merchandise that serves these purposes, the chocolate here will never compare to the “craft” chocolate that should be enjoyed at leisure in the quiet luxury of one’s home.

"Craft" chocolate displayed on shelves at Formaggio's Kitchen in Boston
“Craft” chocolate displayed on shelves at Formaggio’s Kitchen in Boston

Walking into Formaggio’s Kitchen, one is immediately transported to the most charming little shop in rural France, the quaintest street market in Spain, and the most curious ingredient store in Italy. Everything offered here is exotic, from the slabs of cheese on the wall to the rows of extra virgin olive oil on display. It is every culinary enthusiast’s dream. To top it all off, Formaggio’s Kitchen also boasts an impressive shelf of chocolate, each bar made entirely “bean-to-bar” by some of the most skilled confectioners around. Thus, it goes with saying that these products provide the purest experience of how chocolate should be prepared: made from scratch with the most traditional methods using fresh, unroasted cocoa beans of the highest quality (Williams, Eber 168-170). The finished result consists primarily of cacao and a small amount of cane sugar, and as expected, is simply delicious – anyone missing out is really missing the point of chocolate altogether. By foregoing the daunting list of artificial ingredients that are usually included in commercial products, the “craft” chocolate only offered at Formaggio’s represents the other end of the social spectrum and the true meaning of the saying “less is more,” much like the “unadulterated chocolate fit for lords” in Aztec society (Coe, Coe 86-87; Presilla 20; Williams, Eber 168-170). For these reasons, “chocolate” as a general term applies most suitably to these higher quality foods, and since only the elite are able to enjoy them, chocolate is still very much a sign of wealth and opulence.

Patric Chocolate's (a brand of "craft" chocolate) short ingredient list
Patric Chocolate’s (a brand of “craft” chocolate) short ingredient list

With a noticeable increase in quality, there comes a noticeable increase in price as well. In order to pay for the more expensive cocoa beans and the longer, more meticulous method of preparing them for making bars, “craft” chocolate can cost from five times to ten times more than the generic products offered at the local CVS (Williams, Eber 168-170). Moreover, if only the wealthy elite are able to afford these chocolate products, then it must have adequate packaging to advertise to that particular social class; thus, the wrapping for these chocolate bars are ornate and artistically designed – not the cheap plastic bags that are used to attract consumers in the convenience store. Without a doubt, the sophistication of the packaging was far from subtle. From the specific fonts used to spell out each chocolate’s name to the thick paper the words were embossed in, the chocolate products have as much going for them inside as well as outside. This emphasis on serving the rich is a direct extension of the social customs in Europe in the 17th century wherein chocolate was reserved particularly for either royalty or the social elite, albeit the class differences were more publicly enforced back then than the more subtle inequalities today (Coe, Coe 159-160). Nevertheless, the disparity still exists and the steep costs, elaborate packaging, and the upscale district Formaggio’s is located all do their part to reinforce the degree to which this type of chocolate has historically and presently been advertised to the upper class, further distancing these products from their lesser, more generic counterparts.

Patric Chocolate's ornate and relatively sophisticated packaging
Patric Chocolate’s ornate and relatively sophisticated packaging

The drastic market differences within the chocolate industry are manifested in the contrasting qualities, prices, and advertisements of the merchandise offered at that these two distinct locales. Whereas CVS’s modern, “buy-in-bulk” approach appeals to the average consumer in the US, Formaggio’s kitchen’s rustic, almost exotic goods exploit the curiosity – and money – of the rich. However, the sad reality that lies beyond the extensive hierarchy separating the two social classes is the fact that only the wealthy who shop at Formaggio’s kitchen truly experiences chocolate for what the food can offer: its unique taste, clean ingredients, and undiminished health benefits. Everyone else forced to settle with brand name chocolate stuffed with nougat and other fillers are merely duped by the industry itself. And although no change will ever come about from this injustice, due to the immense labor costs intrinsic to cocoa production, it is important for the average consumer to at least recognize what he or she actually walks out with after their everyday trip to the local CVS – or rather, what they’re not walking out with.

 

 

 

Works Cited

“Candy & Chocolate Bars Compared: Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars Nutrition Facts.” A Calorie Counter. A Calorie Counter, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 6 May 2014. <http://www.acaloriecounter.com/candy-chocolate.php&gt;.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.

“Formaggio Kitchen: Cheese 101.” A Little Bit about a Lot of Things. WordPress.com, 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 5 May 2014. <http://dgrubs.com/2013/12/24/formasggio-kitchen-cheese-101/&gt;.

Hess, Alexander E. M. “Most Popular Halloween Candy in the USA.” USA Today 27 Oct. 2013: n. pag. USA Today: A Gannett Company. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/27/most-popular-halloween-candy-in-usa/3274967/&gt;.

Parkin, Johanna. “What Are You Eating: Snickers.” Men’s Health 2013: n. pag. Men’s Health. Web. 6 May 2014. <http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/ what-are-you-eating-snickers-536760>.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. 1st, Rev ed. New York: Ten Speed, 2009. Print.

Root, Lucas. “Weekend Food Commentary.” Urban Paleo Chef: Making Everyday Food Enjoyable and Satisfying. Urban Paleo Chef, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 May 2014. <http://urbanpaleochef.com/ 2013/01/28/weekend-food-commentary-2/>.

“The Spin on Carbs: Think You Are Eating Healthy?” Total Performance Sports: Gym and Athletic Training Center. Total Performance Sports, 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 6 May 2014. <http://totalperformancesports.com/nutrition-corner-december-2013-think-you-are-eating-healthy/&gt;.

Williams, Pam, and Jim Eber. Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate. Vancouver, BC: Wilmor, 2012. Print.

“YUM! Patric Chocolate.” Joy and Sunshine. Joy and Sunshine, 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 6 May 2014. <http://www.joyandsunshine.com/blog/2013/10/02/yum-patric-chocolate/&gt;.