Tag Archives: women

Empowering Women in Advertisments

I wanted to open this blog post with a witty sentence introducing my topic, why the era of sexualizing women in advertisements needs to end, and googled ‘sex sells’ for inspiration. The second hit had the following description:

Here is the cold hard truth, “Sex Sells.” Hate it or love it, sex attracts the eye more than any other type of advertisement (Ovsyannykov).

In lieu of this, here is my introduction, albeit angrier and less witty than I had originally intended:

Here is the cold hard truth, we live in a patriarchal society: women currently earn $0.79 to every dollar made by men and it will be another century before gender equality is achieved in top management positions if we continue at the current pace (Bloomberg). Hate it or love it, barriers and obstacles to gender parity are rampant in society, one of the most pervasive being the presentation of women in advertisement as sexual and trivial beings. “Sex sells,” it attracts the eye, capturing the attention of audiences, but it is not the only means of effective advertising. In fact, for products or services that have nothing to do with sex, sexual advertisements can be less effective than non-sexual advertisements (Lynn).

The chocolate industry is plagued by marketing campaigns that marginalize women, depicting them as sexual objects unable to resist the temptation of chocolate. By portraying women in this light, these advertisements are helping to maintain gender stereotypes and harming the mental health of young girls. The chocolate industry, particularly as a non-sexual industry, has a moral obligation to move away from using gendered stereotypes in advertisements.

Chocolate Advertisements: A Gendered Portrayal  

In “Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History,” Emma Robertson discusses the portrayal of women in the chocolate industry versus the reality of their position. She traces chocolate from the harvest of the cacao in Africa to production in factories to consumption, and offers that advertising “failed to represent the actual economic, political, and social conditions in which Rowntree and Cadbury products, and ultimately profits, were produced” (Robertson, 19). Women were fetishized as housewives and mothers, shown as irrational narcissistic consumers, and objective as “sexual objects to maintain male morale” (Robertson, 30). Prior to WWII, they were solely depicted in the workplace during wartime although they were responsible for the production of chocolate bars in factories during peace times.

For more examples of the sexualization of women in chocolate advertisements, check out this web page from Carla Martin’s “Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.”

The Sexualization of Women: Dramatic Effects

By depicting women in such a sexualized way, the chocolate industry is subliminally enforcing the antiquated stereotype that women are objects. This bolsters the current societal inequities and provides supporting evidence to stereotypes. This has a couple noteworthy implications for the workplace: it may make people less likely to inherently trust and support the rise of women in managerial positions, and also can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly bombarded by the idea that women are meant for the house not office, women can internalize this message and consequentially not try to rise the corporate ranks or stand up for themselves and demand an earned salary/position.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a study that found that the sexualization of women in the media has negative effects on young girls who are exposed to it, effecting cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development (Zurbriggen). Research finds a strong linkage between sexualization and eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression, three of the most commonly diagnosed mental problems in girls and women (Zurbriggen). This means that the take away for young girls viewing the sexy chocolate ads described above is not the product advertised but the characteristics of the oftentimes female model.

 Changing the Dialogue: Our Kit Kat Advertisement

In hopes of changing the focus of chocolate advertisements, we chose to recreate a Nestlé Kit-Kat advertisement from the “One-minute break” campaign created by Zoopa, an Italian agency in 2008. Inspired by the “One-Minute Sculptures” of Erwin Wurum, this ad campaign features various professionals in silly positions with a Kit Kat bar. Unlike the featured men who are shown in appropriate workplace clothing, the woman is shown in a revealing skirt with a high front slit even though skirt suits generally have a small slit in the back for the sole purpose of allowing for greater leg mobility when walking. While the painter is shown with brushes and a ladder, the doctor with a stethoscope, and the businessman with a laptop, the woman is shown solely with a rolling chair, an object that does not increase productivity whatsoever, particularly as standing desks become more and more popular in the workplace.

Our advertisement (below on the right; the original advertisement is below on the left) is empowering: we clothed our model in a pantsuit just like the other members of the campaign. The laptop she carries and the added tagline, “Two perfect presentations down, two to go. Have a break, you earned it”, not only stress her professionalism but also the role of Kit-Kats as an enjoyable midday energy-booster. With her head turned, the focus is on the Kit-Kat bar, not the model, with the red packaging standing out starkly against the light backdrop. These changes keep the main intended message from the original advertisement intact, “Have a break. Have a Kit Kat,” while dramatically improving the subliminal message – that women can be powerful agents in the workplace.

Moving Forward: A Moral Obligation

The portrayal of women in advertisements has not naturally followed nor kept pace with the changing social roles of women, and it is time chocolate companies, particularly the Big 5, transform their marketing practices. To encourage change, governments should follow the European Union, who in 2008 passed a resolution urging Member States to honor the ‘European Pact for Gender Equality’ by tackling marketing and advertising (Van Hellemont and Van den Bulck). Specifically, they called on Member States to ensure:

“by appropriate means that marketing and advertising guarantee respect for human dignity and integrity of the person, are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory nor contain any incitement to hatred based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

Although enforcing this type of legislation can be difficult, it can create incentives for change. The resolution suggested Member States create public awards for companies and campaigns that create advertisements emphasizing gender equality. This incentivizes companies by providing them with the opportunity to gain free media attention across a large population. The legislation also starts a dialogue, and public pressure can be the strongest catalyst for change.

Work Cited

“Cadbury’s Flake – Bath (1992, UK)”.YouTube. 2016. Web.
Colby, Laura. “Women’s C-Suite Equality is Only 100 Years Away.” Bloomberg. 2015. Web.
Lynn, Ann Louise. “The effects of female sexual images on persuasion.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (1995). Web.
Martin, Carla. “Valentine’s Day: Women Being Seduced by Chocolate.” Bittersweet Notes: Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. 2012. Web.
Nestlé S.A. Kit Kat. Ads of the World. Zooppa, June 2008. Web.
Ovsyannykov, Igor. “Sex Sells, 50 Creative Sexual Advertisements.” Inspiration Feed (2011). Web.
Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester University Press (2010). Print.
Van Hellemont, Corinne, and Hilde Van den Bulck. “Impacts of advertisements that are unfriendly to women and men.” International Journal of Advertising 31 (2012). Web.
Zurbriggen, Eileen L. et al. Report Of The APA Task Force On The Sexualization Of Girls. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Web.

The Nature of Women: The sexualization of women in chocolate advertising

“Do you know that when you get an urge to eat chocolate, you shouldn’t resist- there’s a deep physical reason for it?” “When you resist the urge to eat chocolate you are ignoring one of Nature’s most serious warnings” (Robertson 35). The following phrases are from 1930s Aero chocolate advertisements aimed at female consumers. 80 years later, a 2016 Dove’s Fruit and Nut advertisement appeals to customers with a remarkably similar message, portraying women in a highly sexualized manner in order to sell chocolate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1weV9ribio

Through the use of nature imagery, Dove implies that women naturally exhibit extreme sexual desire, but at the same time, expects women to control them, with the exception of consuming chocolate. This is similar to Rowntree’s ads in the early 20th century, where Emma Robertson’s analysis in Chocolate, Women and Empire deems chocolate a socially acceptable and “natural release” of such desires. (35) Dove’s modern advertisement speaks to the larger propensity to sexualize women, using their perceived exaggerated “natural” sexual desires as justification, while also condemning and shaming them for their sexuality. My advertisement, instead, aims to indicate that it is possible to appeal to what is considered natural without perpetuating problematic gendered views.

Chocolate has a long history as a supposed aphrodisiac, connected to sin, which the advertisement plays into by sexualizing a woman who is consuming chocolate. After consuming a piece of chocolate, the woman opens her eyes and we are allowed into her inner thoughts. In an alter ego form, she walks across a desert landscape, hitting a whip against the ground, while biting into the chocolate aggressively in the real world. And in this sexulization, the advertisement also objectifies her. At the beginning of the advertisement, the only shots of her include her eyes and mouth. She is reduced to these body parts- the mouth for consuming chocolate and the eyes to represent passage into her fantasy. We only see the rest of her through the lens of her sexuality. In the multiple scenes, she wears dresses of different colors- red and brown, corresponding to the fruit and nuts in the chocolate. In this way, she becomes almost conflated with the product. When chocolate pours slowly and sensuously over fruits and nuts, it almost becomes a proxy for her body. This is furthered by the fact that fruits collide and explode, splashing onto her skin.

The woman’s sophisticated clothing indicates this isn’t a depiction of day-to-day reality, but also speaks to the idea of chocolate being an indulgence, not just of money but also of desire. With a tagline like “revel in the pleasure,” the chocolate, along with sexual desire becomes a guilty pleasure. This indulgence is also represented in her body movements. She moves fluidly and several times appears to fall back. This can symbolize “letting go” in a sense- she no longer has control of her sexual desire. The use of natural imagery, like the desert and ocean, indicates that that she is guided instead by a natural tendency. While she floats in the water, the camera zooms out to show her floating in a crystal ball. In this way, she becomes someone else’s fantasy or object of desire. She becomes commodified. This external sexualizing of the woman seems to be justified in the advertisement due to her innate sexual nature.

The advertisement can also be analyzed from the perspective of race. The woman in the advertisement is white, and initially “normal” before she consumes chocolate, becoming aroused. Although vanilla is a complex spice, historically, a dichotomy has been set up between vanilla and chocolate, with vanilla being “bland” while chocolate “exotic.” As outlined in Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance, initially, when vanilla became widespread, it was as vanilla ice cream, which when eaten by itself, can be considered plain. Later, during the 1940s, vanilla was used to describe a simple airplane, console or circuit board. And later in the 1950s and 1960s, in fashion it was used to label a simple wardrobe before transitioning into its modern day usage as something standard (Rain 248-249). Additionally, vanilla has been used as a metaphor for whiteness and chocolate as a metaphor for blackness (Martin). In an interview in a NPR article, Harryette Mullen, poet and professor at UCLA, describes “the white versus colorful- “colored”- and the chocolate versus plain vanilla” metaphor, also saying “so it’s a way of reversing the kind of implied superiority of whiteness by saying that whiteness is the less interesting color… because it’s maintained as a norm. And we also having some ideas of how normal is desired but also boring” (Chow). The advertisement shows the white woman initially as “normal,” potentially bland before consuming chocolate and becoming sexualized. The depiction reifies these perceptions, which do not place evenly the shame of sexuality upon white and black women. In the advertisement, the white woman resorts back to normal life, without any negative perception in terms of her morality that is associated with eating chocolate and the implied sexual indulgence.

My advertisement is a response to this sexualization and objectification of women. In the current advertisement, Dove attempts to appeal to nature, linking chocolate as an aphrodisiac with an innate, natural desire in women. In many chocolate advertisements, chocolate is portrayed as a natural product, through a lens of sensuality (Robertson 1).

Chocolate advertisement

My advertisement seeks to maintain this appeal to nature without the problematic portrayal of women. In this case, the Dove product is bringing the element of nature to a supermarket aisle. In the advertisement, instead of the woman being placed in the natural context, and therefore becoming a proxy for the product in a sense, she remains external to the product, a consumer with authority. I chose to include color solely for the trees and the Dove product to differentiate it from the realm of everyday, supermarket shopping. In this way, the Dove product is presented as an alternative to the industrialization that is ubiquitous in our world (which would be represented by the lack of color and vibrancy). As this advertisement relates to the environment, potentially this would be a way to capture interest from those who are conscious about environmental sustainability. Another possibility could be to also include a man shopping in a similar fashion to push back on perceptions of women being the only consumers of chocolate. Since advertisements can often perpetuate problematic societal perceptions, creating positive images could help in altering those views.





Rain, Patricia. Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor And Fragrance. Penguin Group USA, 2008. Print.

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

Martin, Carla. Lecture 9, Slide 12

Chow, Kat. “When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White.” NPR. NPR. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/23/291525991/when-vanilla-was-brown-and-how-we-came-to-see-it-as-white&gt;.

The False Narrative of Chocolate & Female Sexuality, and the Importance of Promoting Chocolate to Women Without Degradation

Advertisement for Dove’s Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate bar from the “My Moment. My Dove.” campaign (2008).

Historically, chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac, associated with love and sex, and perceived in highly gendered ways, with evidence of this in the Aztec culture and Victorian Era, for example (Martin). Modern advertising narratives, such as the Cadbury Flake ad featuring a woman in a bath, continue these traditional themes associated with chocolate by selling the candy with highly sexualized, erotic images and messages. Chocolate advertisers frequently depict the experience of consuming chocolate as “identical to the pleasure of sex or redeemable for the pleasure of sex” (Anderson). I will examine the Dove ad for their Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate bar, pictured to the right, and consider how the image, and other chocolate ads, create a harmful narrative around chocolate and female sexuality. Too often, they promote a notion of women as weak objects, who, once exposed to the influence of chocolate, which serves as an alternative to men, are completely powerless.

The Dove ad is not true to the actual product: the cranberry almond bar is not a substitute for sex and it will not incapacitate the woman by providing her with irresistible physical satisfaction. By obscuring the reality of the product and depicting women as easily, irrationally entranced by chocolate, and by extension, as helpless, I contend that ads like this Dove ad are promoting an injurious characterization of women as objects without agency, and without interests beyond satisfying their own pleasure. It is important to consider the effects of these messages on female self-perception, and work to create ads that instead more accurately celebrate chocolate as a tasty sweet, rather than a “sexual surrogate” (Kawash), and women as real people with depth and personality.

This ad for Magnum Chocolate is one example of the preponderance of ads suggesting that women share sexual experience with chocolate.

Samira Kawash, author of Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, notes the “overt sexuality” of the Dove ad, which she describes as featuring a “lithe woman caressed by brown silk, writhing in pleasure” (Kawash). Upon first glance, the viewer notices a woman wrapped up in a silky brown material with an expression of pure bliss. Her eyes are closed, her features are soft, and her expression is one of peaceful ecstasy. She is certainly in rapture, but her face has been molded in a way so as to not create a dramatic appearance, so she does not appear too powerful. The ad focuses on the comprehensive sum of the different elements of the image: the woman’s euphoric expression, the silky folds of the fabric, the soft lighting, and the suggestive overlaying words.

Noticeably, the whole advertisement is tinted brown and it is difficult to discern sharp boundaries between the woman’s face, her hair, and the silky cloth that is wrapped around her. Dove has carefully crafted and edited the image so as to make the woman in bed resemble creamy chocolate in hue and texture. It is if chocolate is literally taking over the woman because of its overpowering effect on her. She is a remarkably flat figure and resembles a painted face, rather than an individual with a personality, sense of self, and means of influence.

The words at the bottom of the advertisement further reinforce the overt sexual connotations of the image and characterize the woman as easily seduced and without agency: “Now it can last longer than you can resist. Unwrap. Indulge. Repeat.”

My re-designed Dove ad, working to promote a more realistic characterization of chocolate and a positive depiction of women.

My re-designed ad celebrates women as strong, dynamic beings, and markets Dove chocolate for what it is — a sweet. The new ad focuses on the women’s actions, namely, their decision to go for a bike ride together, rather than their sexual satisfaction. It shows that women are strong and in control; they enjoy adventures, represented through biking, and sweets, presumably chocolate, and will not be manipulated or lulled into an euphoric slumber by a mere candy. Furthermore, I incorporated three women into the advertisement to suggest the social nature of chocolate as a food to be shared among friends, rather than an erotic object or substitute for sex that is enjoyed alone in one’s bed, as the initial advertisement suggests with the shrouded woman. The new slogan, “Now life can be full of adventures and sweets,” promotes chocolate as a delicious addition to an active life, rather than an instrument to prod female sexuality.

Considering that most chocolate, and certainly the “My Dove, My Moment” ad, is targeted at women, the implicit messages of female degradation have a negative effect on self-perception. The re-designed ad takes the opportunity to reach so many female consumers to convey a positive, uplifting message by featuring women who are engaged with the world around them and with one another. Dove chocolate will provide women with “sweet” support in their active lives.


Works Cited:

Anderson, L.V. “Cuckoo for Chocolate.” Slate Magazine. Slate.com, 13 Feb 2012. Web.

Cadbury’s Flake: Deliciously Terrifying. Video. YouTube. N.p., 2 Mar 2010. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM4rfqcHtNo&gt;.>.

Cranberry Almond Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate. Digital image. Calorie Count. N.p., 2016. Web. <https://www.caloriecount.com/calories-dove-cranberry-almond-silky-smooth-i132158&gt;.

Dove Ad. Digital image. The Society Pages. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/files/2010/11/dove.jpg&gt;.

Magnum Chocolate Ad in Beautiful HD. Digital image. YouTube. N.p., 9 May 2011. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM4rfqcHtNo&gt;.

Kawash, Samira. “Sex and Candy.” The New York Times. The New York Times Online,, 13 Feb 2014. Web.

Martin, Carla, PhD. “Chocolate expansion.” AFAM 199X. CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, Cambridge. 10 Feb. 2016. Lecture.

Better Than Sex

Advertising is rarely about a product itself. Usually, it is about convincing consumers that if they buy a product – be it perfume, a car, or chocolate – they will somehow gain something else they want. Advertisements sell ideas, more than actual products. An ad might sell the idea of a happy home, for example, or a good job, or a fun escape from worry. These are not things that can actually be guaranteed by purchasing a cleaning agent, or a new suit, or a specific brand of beer, but the job of good marketing is to manipulate the subconscious, not appeal to logic. Most often, now, advertisements sell sex. Print ads, television commercials, they all promote otherwise unrelated products in the same way. You can’t feel how soft your hair will be if you use a conditioner shown in a commercial any more than you can smell the cologne advertised on a billboard, but these ads will convince consumers that these are the things they want by being appealing on a more basic level.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.21.28 PM
Source: http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/


One of the easiest ways to sell sex in this day and age is to put an attractive woman in a compromising position – often in little to no clothing – and have her interact in some way with the product being advertised. It’s sexist and exploitative, but it’s effective, and chocolate is a prime candidate for selling sex. From its inception in Western culture, chocolate has been linked with sex. Its origins in the New World lent it a sense of exotic mystery, and it has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac. Women in particular are the focus of the seductive powers of chocolate, and they are used shamelessly to sell it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.21.44 PM
Source: http://media260chocolate.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2014/03/03/godiva-appeals-to-women-with-diva-campaign/

Godiva Chocolatier ran an ad campaign that fully embraced the sexiness inherent in chocolate. The vice president of marketing in North America stated that “Inside every female is a diva,” (Cho), and the ads used provocatively dressed models to display the company’s treats. “There is something aspirational about it that can appeal to a broad range of women,” (Cho) said the Harvest Communications founder and managing director, and that is what Godiva was going for, in an attempt to broaden the spectrum of core-buying women. The campaign appeals to women’s sense of self-indulgence, and the desire to feel sexy. They even used Victoria’s Secret models, like Frankie Rayder. But the ads themselves have very little to do with chocolate, they look more like Victoria’s Secret ads with the addition of small chocolate confections to remind buyers of what it is they are supposed to want. The idea this campaign is selling is that chocolate is a self-indulgence suited for a diva, and that divas, as well as chocolate, are sexy.

While various companies go through phases of marketing primarily towards women as mothers or wives, there’s always a tendency to swing back towards a more seductive track. This appeals to men as well as to women, both for purchasing power, but for other reasons as well. “Chocolate marketing can be seen… to follow the cultural trends of the Second World War, in objectifying women as sexual objects to maintain male morale,” (Robertson, 31). The exploitation of women was considered acceptable because it was for the good of men, and this particular trend, while not powered by the need to uplift the spirits of men in battle continues today. Even when aimed at female consumers, there is the drive for those consumers to appeal to men and their needs.

It seems odd that a product so clearly driven by female consumers primarily exploits women. While chocolate ads featuring men do exist, the idea is usually that these men will be purchasing chocolate as gifts for the women in their lives, selling a romantic idea. Why shouldn’t men enjoy chocolate themselves? And why shouldn’t female consumers be drawn in by attractive men the same way male consumers are so often drawn in by attractive women? The counter ad campaign here uses professional athletes – players from the National Hockey League – to sell Hershey’s chocolate, specifically Hershey’s Kisses. Titled “Better Than Sex: The Hustler Campaign” it uses men to appeal to women.

As with Godiva’s Diva Campaign, the Hustler Campaign doesn’t use chocolate to sell chocolate, it uses something entirely different. It uses hockey, and hockey players. Instead of using attractive female models, here are attractive men telling consumers this is a thing they should want. Whether they are fighting, winning games, or showing off their assets, the presence of chocolate keeps the idea alive that it – Hershey’s chocolate – is what is making it all possible. Not a particularly logical conclusion, but, after all, ads sell what the consumers want, whether or not the product can hold up to the promise.


Cho, Cynthia H. Godiva Appeals to the Diva Within: Chocolatier’s Upcoming Ads Target Younger Consumers; Dinner with Sarah Jessica? The Wall Street Journal, 2004.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, women and empire: a social and cultural history. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Hershey’s Kiss Image from https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/products/hersheys-kisses.html

Dove: Choose Pleasure. A critique on the fetishization of women in chocolate ads.


One of the ‘Big Five,’ Mars Chocolate, has once again set about marketing their latest creation: DOVE Fruit and Nut Blends. This particular campaign is being advertised in the U.S. market, however, the fetishization of women in connection to selling chocolate is not limited to North America, Mars, nor the chocolate industry. Robertson (2009) develops a narrative where the consumption of chocolate became feminized early on in the West. Robertson describes women as the household adult having purchasing power and (after seeing a commercial geared toward this power), wanting to do right by her children and husband and thus finding a way to satisfy their chocolate needs. However, Robertson, describes a shift in advertising post WWII (1940s and 1950s), where the housewife becomes a magical figure and both she and the product end up becoming fetishized. Fast forward to the current DOVE Chocolate commercial being played out today: A light-skinned woman of uncertain ethnic descent appears in the first second of the 30 second video, but the viewer does not get familiar with her face because it will become evident that the commercial is not about her, rather her expressions and the way her body seemingly responds to this new fruit and nut dark chocolate blend. It is well established that advertising firms should know their audience and market, however, the sensuality seen in recent chocolate commercials is a bit perplexing. If it is really about the chocolate, then the chocolate should be able to sell itself or not rely too heavily on the woman being featured.

See stills taken from the video below:

DOVE Chocolate

Dove advert_video stills

See commercial at this link (current user plan does not allow embedding video at this time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WwZa8qDTmY

Video credits and information: 
Length: 30 seconds
Released: March 2016, U.S.
BBND-NY Advertising Agency
Production Company: The Joinery
Directed by: Ozan Biron

In “Who’s winning China’s chocolate war?,” Mars has emerged as the victor, but by far, (34% of national consumption), their DOVE brand reigns supreme within the Chinese market. It is interesting to see Mars come out on top because Allen (2010), was emphatic about the Big Five finding their niche in the vast Chinese market. Specifically, Allen asserted that the chocolate company with the ability to make their brand stand out would win over the Chinese consumer. Allen pointed to the traditional gift-giving practice that chocolate could play-but this would mean focusing on the packaging. Where an American consumer might eat the whole chocolate bar in one sitting without paying much attention to the packaging, the Chinese consumer would be selective in choosing the chocolate bar or bag because it would be given as a gift.


Photo credit: Huffington Post

The U.S. market favors Mars DOVE brand as well. The Huffington Post looked at America’s favorite chocolates and DOVE performed quite well, going above other giants like Cadbury and Hershey’s.

But again, we have to question Mars motivation in featuring a woman in the throes of passion, writhing her way in and out of shot. The DOVE commercial does exhibit great visual effects to showcase the “stars” of the new chocolate blend being advertised, however, but even these are very sensual. The fruit has chocolate poured over it and then there are bursts as shot after shot capture the movement of fruit, nuts, and chocolate being melded as one.

Alternative Advertisement

Dove-fruit and nut advert

The alternate way of advertising DOVE’s Fruit and Nut Blends is simply by focusing on those very things. The fruit does take on a few characteristics that could be interpreted to be gender-specific, but it is all in the eye of the beholder. The nuts dance about as the dark chocolate rains from above.

Relevantly, Robertson (2009) writes that chocolate lends itself to fantasy-sometimes this illusion is one of sensuality and excess- but why must it always be women who go crazy and lose their minds? Advertisements can be witty and enticing without being sexual. DOVE Chocolate already enjoys a good share of the market and the chocolate should be able to sell itself on its own merits; in this case, whether it be for the American or Chinese consumer. The dominant query for this particular DOVE advertisement was actually about the music, not the chocolate. To sum, if DOVE wants conversation and buzz to swirl around their latest creation, it should be focused on what is different about this chocolate versus their last.


Allen, L.L. (2010). Chocolate fortunes: The battle for the hearts, minds, and wallets of China’s consumers. New York: AMACOM.

Doland, A. (2014, December 8). Who’s winning China’s chocolate war? Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/print-edition/winning-china-s-chocolate-war/296091/

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

Tepper, R. (2013, February 6). America’s most and least favorite chocolates. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/valentines-day-chocolate_n_2632330.html


Sexism, Racism, Colorism and Chocolate

Supermodel icon Naomi Campbell. photo: the gaurdian

Founded in 1824, Cadbury is no stranger to controversy and has created a legacy of producing stereotypical, racially insensitive advertisements. A few examples are the infamous Drumming Gorilla (2007); and the Mastication for the Nation (2009). Although these advertisements negatively impacted and offended consumers of color in a hurtful way, the Cadbury brand continued to ignore and exploit the offenses for financial gain. In this instance, Cadbury compared their Dairy Milk Bliss Bar to Naomi Campbell–an iconic supermodel of European nationality and Black ethnicity. Campbell, nationally known, recognized and worshipped for her striking features and beauty, signature runway walk, and flawless brown skin; also became known for having violent physical outbursts and tantrums. It is the latter of Campbell’s reputation that Cadbury used to both explain and defend the source of inspiration for the Bliss Bar advertisement. In my critical analysis, I consider Cadbury’s history of racially inappropriate ads; lack of sensitivity to people of color; and refusal to address and eliminate overarching racist themes in their advertisements. Finally, I create an alternative advertisement, which introduces the three new flavours of the Dairy Milk Bliss Bar, inviting diversity through inclusion.

Cadbury’s infamous Dairy Milk Bliss chocolate ad. photo: theguardian

In 2011, Cadbury ran a campaign to introduce its Dairy Milk Bliss Bar in three new flavors (Chocolate Truffle, Toffee Truffle & Hazelnut Truffle). The image is simple: the Dairy Milk Bliss Bar mounted atop a montage of diamonds. But it is the tagline that sucks the life from its debut launch: “Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town.” The lifeless ad drew immediate criticism and was hailed as racist among consumers, civil rights leaders/organizations, and most importantly–Campbell herself. Not only was Campbell “shocked and hurt to see her name next to the chocolate bar,” (Daily Reporter, 2011) but felt that being likened to a chocolate bar was in “poor taste on [many] levels” (TheGuardian). Campbell shamed the ad as an “insult to black women” (TheGuardian). Cadbury, who initially defended the ad, citing its creative inspiration with a “tongue-in-cheek play on her reputation for diva-style tantrums,” (TheGuardian) denied that Campbell’s skin color and ethnicity played any factor. Nevertheless, their explanation did not appease the public or civil rights organizations who called for an apology and boycott of Cadbury, which forced Cadbury (who initially refused) to issue an apology to Campbell, her family, and consumers–later pulling the ad.

Cadbury’s controversial ‘Drumming Gorilla’ ad (2007). photo: theguardian

As the old saying goes: ‘this ain’t their first rodeo!’ That said, I find Cadbury’s apology to be disingenuous. Even if their claim to “poke fun” at Campbell’s “diva” tantrums is true, the word diva itself is a sexist, misogynistic term, used to describe a woman who is demanding, hard to work with, temperamental and superior. Furthermore, was Campbell the only celebrity making headlines for bad behavior? According to FOX News, and US Weekly Magazine, the majority of 2010 and 2011’s biggest celebrity meltdowns were by white men. So why did Cadbury choose to target Campbell specifically? Furthermore, why was her behavior significant enough to warrant a national advertising campaign as opposed to other celebrities? Lastly, how did the connotation of the tagline connect with other sociohistorical themes and stereotypes?

Cadbury’s attempt to publicly apologize to Campbell in yet another ad.  photo: theguardian

Historically and in present day society, dark colored chocolate is associated with wickedness and impurity; whereas white chocolate is associated with goodness and purity. This is a historical perception that is deified in racism. In the Bliss Bar ad, the chocolate bar is surrounded by white diamonds and a bright-colored background. I believe the imagery was created to distract from the dark, wicked perception of chocolate in contrast with what is acceptable and desirable. In another equally racist and misogynistic chocolate advertisement which appeared in the British editions of women’s global magazines: African women with dark chocolate skin were pictured with a tagline themed “women with attitude,” (Leissle, p. 124) despite the fact that there was no “attitude” upon their countenance. In a world dominated by white men, women have historically been objectified to sell products. However, women of color are usually typecast with themes of negativity or aggression, while white women are cast as well-mannered, welcoming and desirable.

As women of color, there is also a deeper, complex issue that factors into racism: colorism. In colorism, people of color with lighter skin are perceived as more favorable and desirable; where people of darker skin are perceived as less favorable, undesirable and aggressive. These false stereotypes carry deep ancestral history. Although Campbell’s public persona may have contributed to the Bliss Bar ad, the narrative was intended to objectify her skin color and ethnicity in a way that was unfavorable and undesirable.


new ad
My version of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Bliss Bar advertisement. Inclusion.

In my advertisement, I create an invitation for the world to be introduced to the Bliss Bars new flavours. I intentionally excluded all references to race, sex and ethnicity for the purposes of objectifying our common love and desire for chocolate. By choosing to focus on our commonalities and shared love for chocolate, we all feel included. My wish for Cadbury is that they eliminate the racial undertones and narratives of their advertisements. Thereby, choosing to task themselves in becoming aware and sensitized to why people of color feel exploited, humiliated and dehumanized by their advertisements. Inasmuch, their most racially offensive ads have been created by an agency, Fallon, who clearly lacks sensitivity to racist connotations, imagery and historical context. Maybe therein lies an arrogant resistance to humility and responsibility. Perhaps Cadbury should allow Campbell to stay… and invite Fallon to ‘move over.’ Permanently.


Works cited

Daily Mail Reporter: Cadbury apologizes to Naomi Campbell over ‘racist’ advert that compared her to chocolate. June 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393982/Cadbury-apologises-Naomi-Campbell-racist-advert-compared-chocolate.html

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Cosmopolitan Journal of African Cultural Studies. 24.2, 121-139.

Mark Sweeney: Cadbury apologizes to Naomi Campbell over ‘racist’ ad.  TheGuardian. June 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/jun/03/cadbury-naomi-campbell-ad



Luxury and Female Sexual Pleasure in “Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate”

A day spent in the western world is a day filled with advertisements. Their ubiquity makes the messages that they convey very important. In chocolate advertising, the images used to convey these messages often include women and evoke luxuriousness. While these characteristics are not concerning in themselves, they are often used in a problematic manner in advertising campaigns. An excellent example of this is an advertisement for Dove’s “Cranberry Almond Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate” in 2008. The advertisement contains elements that induce consumers to associate chocolate with high-class and female sexual pleasure, while an alternative advertisement purposefully avoids these problematic themes.

Dove’s “Cranberry Almond Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate”

The image used in the advertisement (shown below) depicts the face of a Caucasian woman with her eyes closed, nestled among folds of silk or satin. The image has soft lighting that creates various hues of brown and gold and casts shadows on the face of the woman and on the folds of the material. She has a faint smile that gives the impression of relaxing pleasure rather than deep sleep.


Image 1 from Dove advertising campaign

This type of pleasure is portrayed to be sexual in nature by the words below the image that include the phrase “now it can last longer than you can resist.” The wording is clearly alluding to the time it takes a woman to climax and implying that the chocolate is so good and it lasts in your mouth so long that it will cause this intense pleasure. The dim, soft lighting also contributes to the sexualization of the woman in the advertisement by portraying a romantic, beautiful, sensual image. Again, the pleasure indicated by the woman’s smile also appears to indicate recent sexual satisfaction. Indeed, this advertisement not only contains connotations of sexual pleasure, but portrays the chocolate itself as inducing a pleasure that is orgasmic. I am not aware of any cases of chocolate consumption that have resulted in orgasms for males or females, so portraying it as such reduces and simplifies a woman’s sexuality. These images and themes appear to be intentional as another advertisement in the Dove campaign series contains many similar elements (see below).

dove ad 2
Image 2 from Dove advertising campaign

This link between chocolate and sex was especially pushed in advertisements for luxury chocolates (Robertson 2009). This tactic remained popular for about the first three-fourths of the twentieth century, and appears to be being used here (Robertson 2009). The rich folds of material in the image imply luxury and high-class or status. In the early 1900s, advertisements from British chocolatiers displayed elegantly dressed blindfolded females choosing the “best” chocolate – conveying chocolate as something luxurious and tying in female sexuality (Robertson 2009). These types of advertisements encouraged “other consumers to aspire to the social distinction afforded by drinking and serving the best cocoa” (Robertson 2009: 26). This pushed the idea that spending money on chocolate was important to show wealth and sophistication – an idea that could be harmful to individuals who didn’t have as much disposable income as the wealthy. Thus, the advertisement is targeting women who want the intense pleasure supposedly derived from consuming chocolate, and the luxuriousness that is associated with it.


An Alternative Ad

A more honest, yet still effective, advertisement that does not stereotype women as seeking pleasure and luxury in their chocolate, is shown below.

Cat and Chocolate 1
A Harvard student eating chocolate after an unpleasant meal in the dining hall

A woman is featured in this advertisement, but she is not in a sexual position, displays no form of sexual yearning, and is not surrounded by images of high-class and luxury (although the “Harvard” text does imply great privilege). This advertisement aims to target the Harvard community by using humor and identifying a common sentiment, all the while creating a more complex image surrounding the female consumer.

She is staring thoughtfully at the chocolate and has on a Harvard sweatshirt and Harvard ring. These images give the impression of competence, intelligence, and agency. She is making an informed choice in eating the chocolate. The text and setting also differentiate this advertisement from the Dove one. She is not wrapped in fabric, but sitting in the dining hall, where consumption of food is common. She is choosing to consume the chocolate as a solution to the foul taste of the food of Harvard University Dining Services, rather than as a solution to her desire for sexual pleasure.

Just as one advertising campaign of Divine Chocolate sought to present the women behind the chocolate as more complex and professional than stereotypes of African cacao workers allow (Leissle 2012), this advertisement attempts to present the female consumer as choosing chocolate for reasons other than a stereotyped sexual satisfaction. Chocolate companies often choose to portray luxury and female sexual pleasure in their advertising campaigns, but they would do well to consider other themes that go beyond stereotype.


Works Cited

Leissle, Kristy. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24.2 (2012): 121-139.

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




Reframing the Golden Moment: Analyzing Sexual Tone in Godiva Chocolate Ads

Luxury chocolate has historically been sold and advertised to wealthy, white, female consumers. The class connotations of chocolate advertisements from companies like Cadbury, Ferrero Rocher and Godiva use luxurious settings and beautiful well-dressed white women in ecstasy to capitalize on the implications of wealth as well as the association of chocolate and female pleasure. This Godiva Ad, featuring said beautiful white woman and a “golden moment”, plays into the ubiquitous advertising tropes discussed above. By using an innuendo for orgasm and a sophisticated model, the ad suggests that the woman consuming Godiva luxury chocolate is something to aspire to not just because of the trappings of her class but also because of the pleasure she’s able to attain. In pushing back on this ad, I suggest that every woman’s “Golden Moment” is not a sexual climax but rather any good feeling. The hope of this original ad is to dispel the notion that chocolate is pleasurable because it is like sex for women; the pleasure of chocolate does not need to be sexualized because of the subject’s gender.

The ad in question is one of many that feature women, often as “Godiva Divas” indulging in chocolate and basking in the afterglow of having consumed Godiva products. 

Any close reading of an ad for Godiva Chocolate would be required to start at the very branding of the luxury chocolate. In its very name the company draws on historical associations with female sexuality through Lady Godiva, the nude noblewoman on horseback. The small, stylized logo in the bottom left-hand corner evokes the lady in question but most prominently features the company name “Godiva”. This subtle inclusion of branding in an ad that features a mostly clothed woman, albeit in bed, strengthens the tie between the chocolate and female sexuality that is essential to the ad’s messaging.

godiva outline
An enlarged version of the stylized logo shows in more detail and underlines the importance of the Lady Godiva legend in the branding of their chocolate – just the outline of a nude breast is the subtle connection between Godiva Chocolate and female sexuality that runs through all of their branding. 

The next important feature of this ad is the subject—the woman lying in bed. While the setting of the ad will be discussed later, the woman herself is an important piece of understanding the intent and result of the ad. This woman, much like the white women historically featured in Rowntree Ads (Robertson 28), represents aspirational upper-class whiteness, suggesting that to consume luxury goods like she does is a right reserved for the wealthy. The styling of her clothes, face and hair reinforce this notion as she is in a form fitting, sophisticated black dress with glamorous eye makeup. Her hair is styled to make it look effortless and slightly tousled but beautiful, reflecting the ease of her elegant lifestyle. These aspects of her styling also are sexually suggestive—the dress is cut to frame her breasts with a sweetheart neckline and the same effortless and tousled look is evocative of post-coital bed head. The pose in the bed and also against the pillow strengthens again the association between this ad and female sexuality, placing the subject of the ad in a pose and place evocative of sex.

The discussion of setting is brief only because the major setting of the ad is in a well-appointed bedroom. As discussed above, the fact that this woman is in bed is evocative, almost purely, of sex. Settings like this are not unique, with ads featuring bedrooms, bathrooms, and bathtubs are almost ubiquitous in the luxury chocolate marketing world. The sexual implications of these places are clear and they endow each ad with a sensuality that chocolate companies have long exploited to sell chocolate. The additional implications of this setting are class related. The major feature of the furniture in the bedroom is the beautiful tufted headboard in the background. While the recognition of the design value of a headboard as such has certain class implications, the mere fact of a headboard when many don’t have them at all puts the wealth of the subject on display, creating in addition to sexual implications, class implications for the consumption of Godiva chocolate.

new ad
The new ad pushes on the boundaries of class and race with a black family set without the trappings of wealth. The family aspect additionally pushes back on the sexualization of eating chocolate. 

In pushing back on this ad I hoped to do two things. First, I wanted to create “The Golden Moment” that had to do with pleasure or accomplishment that was not inherently or implicitly sexual. In creating this ad I wanted to find a “moment” accessible to women regardless of class. I chose to celebrate sharing chocolate with family in an ad whose “Golden Moment” is a smile between a grandmother and a granddaughter. The setting was also explicitly chosen to not reflect upper-class sensibilities as the focus. Much lik other campaigns that try to feature “unconventional models” for selling chocolate, the family here is American Black, giving Black Americans the opportunity to see themselves as the target consumer of the product (Leissle 135). Finally, instead of using the female silhouette logo created by Godiva, I opted instead for the logo used on Godiva products that includes only the name. This ad eliminates the use of female sexuality by positioning its subjects in a completely non-sexual situation and setting. This creates a new Golden Moment associated neither with sex nor with upper-class whiteness.


Works Cited

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

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.
Elliott, Stuart. “Godiva Rides in a New Direction.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.

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.


Marketers, sell your product, not social norms

The aim of an advert is to promote a product and entice people to buy it. Marketing companies use people’s desires and emotions to promote products. However, in attempt to attract the largest audience, they often appeal to the general population and use social norms and stereotypes to advertise. For example, the vast majority of chocolate advertisements are targeted at women because women are stereotyped to consume vastly more chocolate than men, even though research has proven otherwise. Mintel found that females only consume 4% more chocolate than males (CNN; Mintel 2010; Mintel 2014). This is a surprising statistic. Many people expect a larger difference since advertisements have fostered the stereotype that women eat more chocolate than men. With advertisements present on televisions, billboards, the internet, magazines, newspapers, taxis, supermarkets, public transport, and many more places, it is estimated that each person is exposed to 3,000 advertisements per day (Johnson; Story). Therefore, problematic social beliefs are affirmed daily, as we are exposed to thousands of advertisements that perpetuate stereotypical representations of social norms. Therefore, even if an advert is based on a small idea, with daily exposure it becomes a stereotype, and the young next generation are fed these stereotypes and social norms such that they no longer see them as ideas but as truth. Thus, marketers have a huge influence and power on creating or affirming society’s beliefs. Therefore, marketers must be conscious of the message they send out as they advertise their products.


The Original Dove Advertisement

In 2007 the marketers of Dove were not careful with their advertising power and released the advert below. This advertisement is built on many troublingly social beliefs and is discriminative.


Firstly, Dove has completely sexualised men here. They centred and enlarged the abs to fill the entire advertisement, blurred out the sides and background, increased the shadow under each ab, and increased the light reflected off of each ab. This highlights and make us focus only on the muscle and its definition, as if that is the only thing that is important. The human body has many components: emotional, spiritual, mental, physical, and intellectual components. Even physically the human body has many parts and yet Dove chose to show only the male’s abdominal muscles. This promotes a superficial attitude towards men and degrades them to being an aesthetic pleasure, something of only physical worth.

Furthermore, Dove does not only degrade men to a physical body but even more so, their choice to use of a man of colour degrades black men to an object. Dove has used the racist social construct that as Caucasians are to vanilla, Hispanics are to caramel, and Asians are to butterscotch, blacks are to chocolate. Their use of a black model and dim enticing sexual lighting shows that Dove is fostering the idea that while whiteness symbolises ideas of cleanliness, purity, dullness, and blandness, blackness denotes themes of dirt, sin, extreme sexuality, and interest. Therefore, the lack of use of the model’s face and the use of the model’s skin colour to compare him as chocolate represents the disrespectful degradation of black men from a person to an object – a chocolate bar that is worth roughly one dollar.

From the small text at the bottom of the advertisement we see that the intended audience of this advert is a girl. The first issue is that Dove promotes heterosexual relationships and excludes homosexuals. Therefore Dove has tagged along and helped grow one of the biggest problems in chocolate advertising today – extremely frequently, only heterosexual relationships are used to sell chocolate. This Nestlé compilation video shows three examples of such exclusion towards those who are in the minority and are not heterosexually oriented.


Dove’s advert is not only sexist and discriminates against men, but their specific wording fosters common stereotypes that surround women too. The word “melts” plays on and encourages the idea that women are overly emotional and irrational over chocolate and muscles, so much so that their most vital organ will melt after one look at a six-pack and a taste of Dove’s chocolate. Additionally, the use of the word “girl’s” instead of “woman’s” is demeaning because it suggests that in this heterosexual relationship the male is superior and the female is inferior. All in all, Dove’s wording suggests that men are more dominant and in control, which promotes a patriarchal social construct and prevents us from moving towards a gender equal society.


The Recreated Advertisement

To show that it is possible to advertise chocolate without fostering disrespectful social norms, being racist, sexist, or excluding people, I have recreated Dove’s chocolate advert below.

final version

The primary goal of an advertisement is to promote the product that you are trying to sell. Unlike in Dove’s advertisement, chocolate is clearly the product here. It is at the centre. It is large. It is clear. In Dove’s advert “Dove chocolate” was finely printed at the bottom and the tiny chocolate bar and pieces were in the lower bottom right corner. Previously, only if you looked closely could you have been able to tell that it was an advertisement for chocolate.

Furthermore, the recreated advert has moved away from promoting social norms. Since a six-piece chocolate bar has replaced the previously racialised and sexualised six-pack, the advert no longer degrades a person to their physique, nor to an object. The recreated advert also includes numerous races and people of different ethnicities so that the advertisement is neither exclusive nor racist. The ideas of a patriarchal society, overly emotional and irrational woman, and the exclusion of non-heterosexuals have been removed. Instead, the audience has opened up to be all-inclusive as the recreated advertisement plays on the idea that chocolate is fundamentally social: The Maya word “chokola’j”, a potential source for our Spanish and English word for chocolate today, means “to drink chocolate together” (S. D. Coe and M. D. Coe 61).


Concluding thoughts

Marketing companies need to be more conscious about the methods they use to promote their products. There is no problem in promoting products to inform potential consumers what they might want to purchase; however, this should be done in a way that does not exclude, racialise, sexualise, discriminate, or degrade people or communities, or affirm or encourage the growth of disrespectful social norms. A safer way to ensure moral marketing is to keep the adverts focused on the product itself – what it can do, its purpose, and why it is worth purchasing. This will help prevent the fostering of disrespectful stereotypes and social norms and enable us to be a progressive society.


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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