by The Chocolate Dictionary

A game played by chocolate anoraks which consists of matching chocolate ads with their corresponding category in the Master Formats of Advertising. The Master Formats were identified in the late 1970’s by Donald Gunn, then a creative director at Leo Burnett (the agency that came up with the Milk Tray Man). After several months studying the best and most creative TV ads, Gunn discovered certain patterns kept repeating, and from these patterns he found twelve distinct formats.

Today, these strategies are still very much alive. The game of chocolafit involves nothing more than watching television, identifying which Master Formats the chocolate ads fit into, and then crossing them off a chart, bingo style, with the winner being the person who finds all twelve categories first.

Gunn’s twelve formats are broadly summarised as follows:

  • The Demo – A visual demonstration of a product’s capabilities.
  • The “Show the Need or Problem” – The Classic “I’ve Fallen and I can’t get up!” strategy.
  • The Symbolise the Problem – Using symbols or exaggerated graphics to bring the problem to life.
  • The Symbolise the Benefit – The use of symbols to focus on a product’s benefit.
  • The Comparison – Pointing out how one product is superior to its rivals.
  • The Exemplary Story – When an ad uses a story or narrative to exemplify the product’s benefits.
  • The Benefit Causes a Story – When the use of product creates a unique story. An example is the Axe body spray commercial (named Lynx in the UK) in which a man turns into a chocolate version of himself and has women desperate to lick or bite chunks off him.
  • The Testimonial – Real people telling other real people about the product.
  • The Ongoing Character or Celebrity – A consistent character or celebrity keeps a brand in the public’s memory. An example of which is the Terry’s Chocolate Orange ads, featuring comedienne and roly-poly actress Dawn French.

Dawn French – identified with Terry’s Chocolate Orange for over a decade till 2102. (Image from: YouTube)

  • The Associated User Imagery – Ads that showcase the types of people brands want to associate with. For example, the way in which the chunky Yorkie chocolate bar was advertised by lorry drivers in a bid to make milk chocolate more appealing to a masculine audience.

Yorkie bar – advertised in the 1970’s as the “masculine” way to eat milk chocolate. (Image from: YouTube)

  • The Unique Personality Property – Highlighting a feature that makes the product stand out. Cadbury’s Flake ads are the probably the best known example, for the way they showed, in a very sensual way, how only the “crumbliest, flakiest chocolate tastes like chocolate never tasted before”.
  • The Parody or Borrowed Format – In this format, instantly recognizable themes from popular movies, music or television programmes are parodied to sell products in an entertaining way. The classic Milk Tray ads, parodying spy movies, being the most instantly recognisable examples.