Mars has just launched a new product–the company’s first new candy bar in fifty years–and, perusing their marketing material, I’m startled by how closely it resembles the Baked Lays/Good Earth/SmartFood “only in a woman’s world” debacle we discussed a few weeks ago.
The new treat, Fling, is being billed as “chocolate for women,” because it’s low-calorie but highly indulgent. Or, in the words of Fling’s tagline: “Naughty…but not that naughty.” How very clever.
In a promotional video detailing their New Zealand launch, Mars reveals its marketing strategy as one which relies heavily on the idea of guilt-free cheating (in both the adultery and the “cheating on one’s diet” sense). While a number of other products have used this sort of marketing (Jello’s “every diet needs some wiggle room” comes to mind), Mars seems to be very focused on drawing parallels between its product and some pointedly non-gastronomical pleasures of the flesh. For example, the now-defunct New Zealand launch site included virtual men with whom you could have “guiltless” virtual affairs:
Fling’s US launch website imagines the chocolate bar as a tribute to Womanhood in all its “shimmery” glory:
We created FLING™ Chocolate Fingers to celebrate the female spirit – the unapologetically feminine playful, naughty, flirtatious, and alluring nature that brings shimmer into the world.
FLING™ is a sweet, light truffle on a subtle crisp layer enrobed in shimmering chocolate that’s as glamorous as you are. At under 85 calories per finger, it’s slim, but not skinny. Indulgent but not greedy. Naughty but nice.
With Fling and its ad campaign, Mars is clearly trying to equate its new chocolate with sex, dieting, rebelliousness and indulgence, all at once–the thrill of being bad (cheating, on your diet or otherwise), without the guilt–which I’m sure they think is a winning combination. Me, I just think it’s predictable…more of the “Sex and the City”-ifying of marketing towards women.
Have a new product? Does it imply sex or seduction? Is it diet-friendly without seeming diet-friendly? Does it have a flirty, girlie name? Can you somehow make it suggest reckless independence without actually straying from society’s expectations? Boom, you’re done. After all, that’s what women want.
I can’t wait to see what Fling’s television spots will look like. Can you?