Do you dream in chocolate? What’s wrong with the new Lindt advert.

// 22 December 2011

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This is a guest post by Noorulann Shahid, who currently studies economics at university. She is the politics editor of Manchester Metropolitan University’s student newspaper Pulp, and would best describe herself as an “accidental feminist”, as she discovered feminism through a BeyoncĂ© music video. She believes that Islam and feminism are compatible. She tweets @hijabihippie.

The other day, I was flicking in between TV channels. I was watching something, sorry to be so imprecise, but I can’t remember what, and something caught my eye. It was an advertisement. I generally loathe adverts. As a feminist, I am aware that advertising uses the gender stereotypes that exist and sell them back to us. Women are more commonly used to advertise cleaning, household, or food products, whilst men can be used to advertise other products.

Now, in this advert, a scene unfolded in which international acclaimed tennis player Roger Federer was going through security checks at an airport, and two attractive, young female airport security staff watched his bag as it went through the scanner. They don’t recognise who he is, but recognise he is a tennis player as his bag goes through the scanner and its contents are seen. They think the bag is full of tennis balls, but they open it to discover it’s actually full of Lindt chocolate truffles. Federer corrects them by adding “Swiss tennis player”.

Both of the women then begin eating his chocolate, and declare they’ll have to confiscate his chocolate as it is a “new policy”. One of them jokes, “I think we should do a strip search too”. In the extended version of this advert – the shorter version is the only one I’ve seen advertised – they then ask him to take off his pants and turn around. He turns around, and they both comment on his physique and say “you must work out a LOT.” When the checks are finished, she still won’t give him the chocolate back, to which he comments, “You ladies are crazy”.

At first I was surprised to see a man used to advertise chocolate. Pretty much all the adverts I’ve seen for chocolate, including the Galaxy one, use women. The previous “do you dream in chocolate?” (No, I do not!!) adverts show a male chocolatier making the chocolate, but a woman consuming it. This advert shows a male buying the chocolate, but the female airport staff consuming it and then confiscating it. This fits in to the fact that because it’s the women consuming the chocolate that the target market for chocolate is also women. Shouldn’t we aspire to more than shoes, handbags, and chocolates?

Also, this advert is one of the rare times, along with some perfume adverts, in which a male is objectified and sexualised. When Federer turns around, one of the staff comments “everything is in the right place” and the comments from the women imply to other men that his body cannot be obtained without working out lots in the gym. I wonder how men feel about this advert. If I was a man, I think it would make me feel inadequate for not having Federer’s body and consequently not being the subject to much female attention.

As feminists, we are essentially calling for equality, and a stop to the objectification and sexualisation of women, since we do not want to be seen as mere sex objects, but as humans with intellect. So shouldn’t we, as feminists, also call for a stop to the objectification of men? We can’t expect to not be objectified if we objectify men.

Comments From You

Coral // Posted 22 December 2011 at 9:53 pm

My problem with this advert was more the sexual assault.

Fantail // Posted 22 December 2011 at 10:11 pm

I think this is a tricky one. I feel that the context of the objectification of women — that it’s incredibly widespread, that it is often based upon pornographic values, that sexual violence against women is still so common and so rarely goes punished — means that the objectification of women is a more serious issue.

However, I would hate for the objectification of men to have similar consequences for them that it does for women. And I think the ad is tasteless, because what it depicts is sexual harassment, and it’s suggesting that this is humorous because it is two women harassing a man. The only humour in this situation seems to derive from the subversion of the common stereotypes that men are sexually active and women are sexually passive, thus supporting these harmful stereotypes. The fact that Federer smiles and seems amused throughout supports the notion that what the women are saying is not sexual harassment, and that a man could only be flattered by this kind of attention. I know that many of my male friends would only feel uncomfortable if they were treated in this way.

So, to conclude, I agree with you — I do not think that we, as feminists, should allow objectification of men to go unchallenged simply because the objectification of women is so common. If the genders in the advert were switched and it portrayed two men suggesting they strip search an attractive woman, it would cause an uproar. I think that’s an important thing to remember whenever we see or hear anything which objectifies men.

sianandcrookedrib // Posted 23 December 2011 at 1:19 pm

As a feminist, i totally agree, the objectification of men or ‘the stupidity myth’ (Holly’s description of ads that portray men as bumbling fools who can’t get along without a sensible woman showing them how/taking on all the cleaning etc) in advertising is a massive problem. We do not gain equality by ‘doing down’ men, or levelling down.

Shadow // Posted 23 December 2011 at 2:27 pm

One rare advertisement featuring a male removing all his clothes doth not make it ‘sexist!’ Consider the innumerable mainstream advertisements all depicting women as men’s disposable sexual service stations. One excellent example is the latest misogynistic Lynx advertisement. But as always ‘if it happens to men then it is real’ if it is women being depicted as dehumanised sexualised commodities it is not ‘real.’ I doubt Roger Federer’s lower body was shown naked because that would be ‘sexist’ would it not? However women are commonly shown in malestream advertisements totally naked and adopting sexually submissive poses. Note too there was no criticism of Federer’s body or dehumanisation of his body. Instead it was reinforcement of the supposed ‘ideal male body.’

Men will not be subjected to loss of self-esteem because they are not constantly bombarded with claims ‘you need to purchase this product because your body is faulty.’ Rather men are told via advertisements ‘purchase this item and you too can attract as many women as you wish. Lynx promotes that particular lie. So no men are not routinely subjected to negative advertising concerning their supposedly innately faulty bodies – rather they are constantly told if they purchase said product this will enhance their pseudo male sex right to women!

shatterboxx // Posted 23 December 2011 at 10:04 pm

It’s not that I don’t agree, if there are any campaigns to stop the objectification of men, I’ll get right behind them. It’s just usually it’s women who are expected to work to stop objectification on behalf of both women AND men, when really it should be men speaking up independently too. I don’t really feel able to speak on behalf of men, but I’m happy to help should the issue be brought forward.

Kim // Posted 24 December 2011 at 1:52 am

I agree that the man is being sexually harassed and objectified. I agree that objectifying men does not aid the elimination of female objectification. I also agree with shatterbox that it is mostly left to women to fight against being sexual objects, but even though men should independently speak up against this we should take care that if they do it does not look as if the authoritative white male hath spoken and thus we as a society should comply.

I also agree with Shadow that according to our societal perspectives on gender-appropriateness the commercial would not be considered sexist. It is all too true that the message of “buy this/do this/try this and you too can be the ideal man” is portrayed and devoured by many males in our society. Does that fact make it right to turn the tables and portray the male as the harassed sexual object? From a feminist and equality-minded point of view, I would say “No.”

I am sure many people did not cry out against the commercial; because women (and of course some men) may have not only found the tennis player to be truly sexy, but some people may have found the commercial humorous and to be a sort of revenge and minute victory for women who are typically objectified in the media.

Only when we as a global society recreate the definitions of what it is to be male and female will both men and women be treated and displayed in everyday life and in the media in an appropriate manner.

Laurel // Posted 24 December 2011 at 2:52 am

like many above, not too concerned about a bit of sexualisation the other way, but its implying sexual harassment of men is fine, and that makes me very uncomfortable.

lil1 // Posted 28 December 2011 at 2:44 pm

I don’t like that it suggests women ‘harassing’ a man is a joke – that women can never be as successful a threat as men because they obviously are inferior and futile and a man only need enjoy the attention and not be worried by it.

Also the lingering shots of the two young, conventionally attractive women eating the chocolate and making sounds of pleasure still suggests to me a woman’s enjoyment is for men – it wasn’t subtle and still smacked of female objectification there.

nick // Posted 30 December 2011 at 1:30 pm

I’m glad to see some of the comments. I have in the past complained to the ASA about

objectification and sexualisation of men in adverts . I even had a reply once, saying thanks for your letter but since we did not have 1000000000000 people complain we are not going to do anything about it. ( i may have exagerated on the number) .

Anyway …..I dont think feminists should complain on behlaf of men ….its very nice to do so, but we men can do that. Masculism in action. Men standing up for themselves and saying its wrong. Feminists do this for women , so masculinists should do the same for men.

Objectification of men in adverts have been around for sometime …..remember the diet coke ad ?????????? This particular ad is wrong and as one previous comment said , if it was two males saying about strip searching a female tennis player then all hell to pay.

in regard to chocolate in ads ……..men have advertised chocolate ….yorkie bars, mars bars, twix ….but certainley different way than women advertised it.

all in all its good to see feminists agreeing with masculinists on this subject.

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