My son started giggling when he saw the pink candy bar in the checkout line at Vons. “Mom, that looks like something you would like,” he chuckled, as he pointed to the new “Fling” chocolate bar, a hot pink-drenched confection that looks so girly it could have stepped right off the shelf of Barbie’s Dream House.
When I told him we needed to try it, he giggled even harder, and turned a little red in the face. This candy bar screams “girl cooties” even louder than the tampons my husband thinks he deserves a medal for buying.
I don’t know when Mars began using five-year-old girls as graphic designers-I’m surprised its shiny pink and silver packaging isn’t wrapped with a feather boa. And I don’t know when Mars started using frat boys in its marketing department- they must have been working round the clock to come up with the tag line “Naughty, but not that naughty” as the motto for this 85-calorie trifle. It’s positioned as a simple pleasure you can guiltlessly enjoy in the middle of a workday, with ads that winkingly allude to a different kind of simple pleasure you can guiltlessly enjoy in the middle of the workday.
The television commercials seem to depict strangers having sex in a dressing room (they’re actually in adjacent dressing rooms and the woman is only eating chocolate), while the print ads urge you to “Pleasure yourself” with “Fling’s slender fingers.”
So much for slyly winking innuendo-they want you to pleasure yourself with slender chocolate fingers! You don’t have to have a dirty mind to go THERE with that one.
Other “Fling” ads urge you to: “Have a ‘Fling’ in private, or wave it all around town; in the office, the bedroom, or the great outdoors.” Nothing ambiguous there.
Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Sexual euphemisms are now available at the grocery store-at least in California where the product is being test marketed-in convenient chocolate form.
Not only is this candy sexy, it shimmers. According to the website (www.flingchocolate.com, not www.fling.com, which is a risque dating site which I accidentally went to in the course of writing this column, and which forced me to figure out how to erase my browser history so my son and husband wouldn’t freak out when they next went on-line): “You are not seeing things. The Milk Chocolate flavor has a pink shimmer, the Dark Chocolate has a gold shimmer, and the Hazelnut has an orange shimmer. We like variety.”
Clearly this candy bar from Mars is aiming for women from Venus. What I don’t really understand is why. Maybe the fact that “Fling” is the first new chocolate bar Mars has introduced in 20 years is the real explanation for the stereotypical “Marketing to Women 101” campaign. They’ve covered all of the cliched bases: skinny, sparkly, naughty but nice and most of all, pink.
Surely M & M’s and Snickers’ new little sister is looking for trouble with her flirty little wrapper, not-so-subtle wordplay, and marketing of herself to just half of the population. I personally shoulder (or should I say “thigh”) more than my fair share of the chocolate bar economy. As such, I’ve always thought the woman in the Dove commercial who’s satisfied with just one piece of chocolate was faking it. But even I can’t eat enough “Flings” to keep this new product on the shelves.