This is an image I took today, with my camera phone, in the library, in response to a massive sugar slump. Hence the awful quality and the blurriness.
But this image has been the cause for significant distress. And this distress has further been the cause of more distress. Possibly because I would never have imagined being this concerned (or even observant) about a piece of sponsorship on a candy-wrapper.
Therefore, I am going to analyze this to bits. Let’s begin.
What is it?
This is an image of a sponsorship deal by Cadbury on a wrapper of ‘Twirl’ chocolate.
Fairly straightforward, bluish/purple (I’m terrible with colors) and white version of the Olympic logo, with a caption ‘Official treat provider’. Small, about 3 centimeters squared.
Point of Acquisition?
Library vending machine in Oxford.
Reasons for Acquisition?
Sugar slump following study attempt. The choice of candy was aberrant, as I usually get Twix when at the library. The biscuit makes it crunchier and it gives the feeling that you are going actual work when eating. Twirl is more of an indulgence, since it just melts in your mouth. No idea yet why I betrayed Twix today.
Discovered exact change in coat pocket when cracked my jaw during a yawn. Made the epic journey down 2 flights of stairs, cold corridors and past studious students to the horror of the vending machine. Carried it back to acceptable area for eating. Noticed logo and took picture.
That was fairly straightforward. Analysed content, placing and location. Now I will follow protocols and guidelines of authors such as Banks, Pink, Rose and Helmers:
1. My initial reaction: sinking dismay that I noticed it. That is truly the very first reaction I had: ‘Really? THAT is what I am noticing?’
2. Place the image in context: The immediate context was my location, which I have mentioned. Greater context is naturally of the London Olympics and Cadbury. Fast facts:
- Cadbury, established in 1824, in Birmingham, confectionery king (personal opinion)
- Supporter (tier two) for the London Olympics for an estimated 20 million pounds
- Gained rights for using the marks on their items (including ice cream) and marketing rights for Games
- Got rights for ALL the confectionery and ice cream to be sold at the Games
- Were also sponsors for Sydney and Manchester Games
- Attracted controversy (naturally), because apparently promoting candy and sweet stuff went against the ethos of the Games.
- Argument countered with points on their Britishness and how this is a good way to celebrate things that are part of the material of British life
- Throw-back comments on Cadbury’s ‘Get Active!’ campaign
- Very strong publicity as can be seen here
Now while I didn’t get to experience the results of the sponsorship in London and during the Games, I am experiencing it nearly a year later, in another city. I wonder if these bars of chocolate are as old as the Games and if they had a surplus problem that was remedied with supplying vending machines across the country. I should be more concerned. Also, in hindsight, should have checked production and expiry dates.
3. Visual discrimination: Have already done above,
4. Identify symbolic elements: London Olympics logo (not the eye-burning blue and pink version, but tastefully incorporated into the wrapper’s dominant (Cadbury) colors. Second symbol that is of interest is the Twirl symbol. Could also consider the other logos on the wrapper, but again, will consider in detail the next time.
5. Distinguish absences: The most glaring one for me was the Olympic color. Look forward to comments on this!
6. Examination of me as a viewer of the images: Highly biased viewer, interested in the Games as an event, and everything even remotely visual about them. Interested in the geography of events like this as well. Have evolved from one who didn’t care at all, to someone who now notices tiny logos on candy
7. Effects of the image on the viewer: Initial dismay, then pride at having noticed (the effects of the research are insidious!), concern at what this means for consumers and if this was part of the communication strategy of the sponsors. Must see if I can find out.
I am conflicted on what was the main object here. Was the object the logo for marketing on the wrapper? The wrapper? The candy? Did the object change with time?
I would like to say that if the candy had been bought at a kiosk in the Games, the logo probably meant next to nothing, but that the true impact of it had been in the periods building up to the Games when people bought it in random areas, and now, just as a reminder about what Cadbury and country had accomplished.
Are the wrappers still being printed with the logo? When did it stop? These are very interesting points and I would like to chase them down. Note to self.
What does this mean for geography? This can be a great example of regional and human connectivity. I, a researcher and student from 8000 miles away encountered a piece of advertising nearly 9 months after an event, about 52 miles away from the event, while recognizing that the logo, wrapper and the candy had all been produced in very different locations.
Of course, it’s very likely that had I not had a vested interest (even in my subconscious) to notice something evenly remotely Olympic associated, I wouldn’t have noticed it and the purpose of the logo had gone to waste.
What are the wider implications of me having encountered this? I will probably go grocery shopping next and keep a peeled eye out for other sly and cunning advertisements like this by Cadbury. What is also interesting is that Chrome refuses to recognize ‘Cadbury’ as a legitimate word.
I wonder how and where people have encountered adverts like this. Please do let me know about your experience!
Is this a time to make a cliched comment on how small our world is getting?