The Language of Chocolate

by Tracey Rimell

My online handle is Milktray. I started using it for the cute word play (Milk-Tra-cey), and yes I did think I was clever. But then I also thought I was trendy for wearing a bum bag and double denim once upon a time. We can’t all be perfect.


Of the many ads that remain rattling around in my head, I thought it was interesting that the Milk Tray ad stuck. It was quite the campaign: a male hero archetype engages in one of several interchangeable death defying feats, en-route to deliver a box of chocolates as a calling card to a beautiful woman’s boudoir…‘and all because the lady loves Milk Tray’.

Wow. Be still my beating heart.

Let’s recreate that scenario for the 2015 female audience. A woman is home alone relaxing on the sofa in an alluring size 14 onesie, with dishevelled hair and sporting very little make up (because who lounges around fully coiffed?). She hears a noise upstairs and does what any independent woman does in this situation: grabs the nearest object to use as a weapon (probably the remote control then) and creeps upstairs to find a strange man in her bedroom.


In a blind panic (she might be in physical danger, and worse, he might have witnessed the pile of laundry on her floor and the fact that she owns a copy of 50 Shades of Grey despite claiming only to read books of literary value), she clubs him into unconsciousness with said ‘weapon’, before calling the police and regaling them with every minute detail of her trauma (after posting it all on Facebook because, priorities). She then eats the entire box of chocolates as a reward for surviving the ordeal…all because the lady loves Milk Tray.

It stands to reason that ad campaigns often rely on humour or indulgence to sell chocolate; it’s not an essential item and we all know it’s not good for us. You can’t even count chocolate orange as one of your five a day (no, really).

Whatever their tactics, chocolate brands are largely female focussed. There are a few other perpetrators that sometimes fall into this black hole of gender stereotyping in advertising, but I’m yet to spot a tin of sensuous sardines or bottle of silky milk.

Surely it is time to move on. Today, there are other more notable identity markers that would make for appealing advertising. Using gender specific language to sell gender non-specific products belongs with bum bags and double denim – in the past.

Now I’m off for a date with a bar of Galaxy, my most attractive pyjamas and the remote control. And no, I don’t need another hero.

Happy Easter everyone.