Fling: Chocolate for women?

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?

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    The new treat, Fling, is being billed as “chocolate for women,”

    Yeah, right.

    This reminds me of a “female” (in the sense of being marketed at a shallow view of women) version of Burger King’s polygameat ad *. Both have the effect of making me doubt the product, because if it was really that good, they could just say so without tying it up in the idea of illicit, fringy sex. For example, the Magnum Equador Dark ad *, which finds a stylish way to say “this is superior chocolate.”

    Also, simply referring to the user of the site as “Woman” got on my nerves.

    * Sorry for the self-promotion.

  2. sbg says

    Ugh.

    Why can’t a candy bar just be a frigging candy bar? Personally, I know when I have a chocolate craving, I go get some chocolate and do not feel guilty about it. I’VE EVEN EATEN CHOCOLATE IN PUBLIC.

    I really get tired of chocolate “for women” marketed as this kind of illicit and/or sensual experience. I get why it’s marketed that way, but jeez.

    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.

    You’ve summed it up so well here I don’t have much to add! :)

  3. Robin says

    “I can’t wait to see what Fling’s television spots will look like. Can you?”

    I can, actually, because I have a feeling they’ll make me want to fling my television across the room. I’m not sure where this whole “stuff for women” trend is coming from, but it can stop now. There are very few products that are truly gender-specific. Can’t they just market things to, y’know, people?

    “…Jello’s “every diet needs some wiggle room” comes to mind…”

    Those ads don’t bother me, though, because they target both men and women, and equate their product with fun rather than guilt or sex. (Plus, I’m intrigued by the acrobatics of making those human letters and wiggling while they’re at it. They must have muscle control like nobody’s business.)

  4. Pocket Nerd says

    “Chocolate for women”? Gee, and all this time I bet you’ve been eating the regular kind, not knowing it was secretly for men!

    Seriously, though, this sounds like a marketing campaign aimed at men, not women; it’s calculated to appeal not to what women want, but shallow male stereotypes of what women want. These commercials may not make a woman want to run out and buy the stuff, but they might make a man think that by giving Fling (complete with suggestive name) to a woman, he’s giving a thoughtful, highly erotic gift that practically guarantees thank-you sex. ‘Cause chicks like chocolate, right? And all that sensumal stuff!

    (Or maybe the marketing directors behind Fling are so out of touch they really believe that’s how women think.)

  5. Angry Brazillian Lass says

    If I may add, not only those are shallow male stereotypes, but kind of racist, too.
    In case you’re wondering:
    Latin Americans do not work that way!
    Plus, how hypocrite is a message that tells women to break rules, as long as they keep their disciplines on watching their weights?
    That’s a few kinds of messed up.

  6. says

    I am confused. This product is not pink, but they say it’s for women. How does that work??? /sarcasm

    I’VE EVEN EATEN CHOCOLATE IN PUBLIC.

    LOL, thank you! I’m concerned their target audience might be so guilt-ridden, they won’t even be able to purchase these bars themselves without wearing a disguise. That could hurt sales. ;)

    If I may add, not only those are shallow male stereotypes, but kind of racist, too.
    In case you’re wondering:
    Latin Americans do not work that way!

    No kidding!

  7. sbg says

    Plus, how hypocrite is a message that tells women to break rules, as long as they keep their disciplines on watching their weights?

    It’s okay to break the rules, as long as you don’t get FAT in the process, apparently. ;)

  8. sbg says

    I am confused. This product is not pink, but they say it’s for women. How does that work??? /sarcasm

    The website looks like someone vomited pink all over it, and I think the packaging also has a ton of vibrant pink. That base has been covered. ;)

    Oh, and rats – I didn’t even consider that I should be using a disguise while making my chocolate purchases! Opportunity lost.

    I did have one cashier once comment about my items du jour – a frozen pizza, a pint of ice cream and a brownie. I mentally decapitated him, went home and ate the brownie as I’d originally intended. The other two things were for later. ;)

  9. Robin says

    “Now, if they made a chocolate penis-shaped implement, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game (heh).”

    They do. Many were given as gag gifts for birthdays among my friends in college.

  10. says

    Marketing towards women in this way seems to only be getting worse. Perhaps we should take bets as to how far companies will go to appeal to the millions and millions of women that apparently a) feel a desperate need to be on a diet but b) still want chocolate and c) want to feel like eating chocolate is sort of like the extramarital sex their not having. WTF?

    Robin, I actually like the Jello ads, too; I was just using that as an example of diet advertising’s relationship to the concept of cheating. I think the “every diet needs some wiggle room” campaign is actually a good example of how a diet (low-cal) product can be marketed, and even marketed towards women, without crossing the line into inappropriate, obnoxious and potentially offensive.

    The website looks like someone vomited pink all over it, and I think the packaging also has a ton of vibrant pink.

    Oooh, sbg, did I mention that the bars shimmer, too? They’re SPARKLY! Apparently Fling’s producers thought it would be fun (and girlie, I’m sure) to include a “FDA approved mineral called Mica, that shimmers and is used occasionally by specialty chocolatiers to add a unique and attractive sparkle to gourmet chocolate. [...] The Milk Chocolate flavor has a pink shimmer, the Dark Chocolate has a gold shimmer, and the Hazelnut has an orange shimmer.” Shimmery minerals? I can’t wait.

  11. says

    Then Robin, I obviously didn’t have the right friends in college!

    I suspected there were chocolate penises out there: after all, real-life dicks are models/molds for sale.

  12. Jaime says

    Do you have the Mars Delight in the US? http://www.marsdelight.com/

    As soon as I saw it I sighed and thought ”that’s obviously for women” and the ubiqiutous ads featuring Girls Aloud and womens magazine promotions dutifully followed. In comparison to ‘Fling’ though I’m starting to think the ‘Delight’ is rather less patronising.

  13. says

    Jaime, as far as I know, Mars Delight isn’t available in the US. At least, I’ve never seen it.

    And, yeah, the website does have the whiff of “marketing for women” about it, but I’d far rather have a product marketed towards me in a semi-subtle way than have the product thrown in my face as something that’s just for me because I’m a woman (and we’re all the same)!

  14. says

    Shimmery minerals? I can’t wait.

    *gobsmacked* I so totally thought you were kidding when you started talking about mica, then I realized you weren’t, and now I can’t find my jaw. I think it rolled under the furniture.

  15. A Very Bad Girl says

    For example, the now-defunct New Zealand launch site included virtual men with whom you could have “guiltless” virtual affairs

    heh That sounds about like something that would be up my alley, right Jen? ;)

    Anyhow, I’ll try anything once. Somebody throw a Fling at me. LOLOLOL

  16. DHS says

    Uhm… that’s not a chocolate bar… That looks totally revolting. I don’t think something should be called “chocolate” if it isn’t solid chocolate… :P

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