— Karen Brennan, Attorney

Mars recently introduced a new candy bar, Fling, marketed exclusively to women, advertised as “an un-regrettably indulgent new product for women”.  The website is predominantly pink and is littered with very stereo-typical one-liners meant to be sexy such as “you never know when you’ll want to have a Fling” and “so tear it open and sneak in a quickie.”   The packaging is shiny pink and silver with the tag-line “Naughty, but not that naughty.”

The marketing campaign is nothing more than a concoction of cliches directed toward women simply because it is a low calorie candy bar, touted as under 85 calories per stick.  Interestingly, since there are two sticks in a package, Fling has about the same number of calories as other, gender neutral, candy bars such as Nestle’s Chunky Bar (190 calories; I don’t believe Nestle was thinking about marketing directly to women when it named this candy bar), Nestle’s 100 Grand Bar (190 calories), or Mar’s Milky Way (approximately 220 calories).

I can’t decide whether this marketing campaign is smart or insulting.  While the company claims it is for women, the target audience is obviously younger women (late teens – 20’s) who may not be as insulted as slightly older women (lets say 30’s).  In researching this blog, I did find numerous comments from women who were insulted, such as www.wonderbranding.com, (Fling blog) and Creative Skirts.  Mars is marketing this new product as a guiltless fling.  However, like any other fling, you don’t realize how bad it is for you until its too late.

  • This sexually suggestive marketing could easily flop with parents too (both gender varieties), it seems to me. On the Fling website there is a link entitled “Note to Parents” (http://www.mars.com/global/policies/privacy/np_english.asp), claiming among other things “[we] take special care with young children” (meaning children ages 13 or younger in the U.S.), yet at the same time, apparently acknowledging that girls 13 or younger are likely to be exposed to Mars’ sexually suggestive marketing. Given this, I’m not so sure the target audience is really women in their “late teens – 20’s).