Oct 26th, 2015, 02:58 AM

The Trans Trend in Ice Cream

By Sigourney Woodfork
Model promoting ice cream and LGBTQ awareness
How Magnum is using transgender models to promote their ice cream.

Shapely legs balanced in elegant heels glide across a wooden floor. The camera pulls out to reveal more of the scene. At first, only the backs of lush manes of long hair are visible. A model gives the camera a coquettish smile.

Intrigued, I ignore the ad’s “skip” feature and let the video continue. Soon the models’ faces are entirely revealed. Strong jaw lines and lowbrow bones are thinly camouflaged with faux eyelashes and bangs. Suddenly, I realize that these models were men. This is a commercial for Magnum ice cream.

Offering flavors such as double peanut butter, chocolate infinity and gold, Magnum presents itself as a premium frozen treat. The brand’s philosophy is “a day without pleasure is a day lost". Magnum took inspiration from that motto when making the Be True to Your Pleasure video series featuring transgendered women and using decadence and sensuality to differentiate from competitors. The commercials premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. 

MAGNUM Be True To Your Pleasure

“I know I look like a woman, but I sound like a man,” states James, one of the models featured in the online commercial. “I was born this way. This is just who I am.” Although the product is scarcely featured in the advertisement, according to industry news source The Drum, the essence of the campaign is to encourage people to be true to their own version of pleasure, whatever form it takes.

While the commercial is inclusive of an often marginalized community, its is no surprise that marketers exploit buzz-worthy subjects in order to promote products. It seems Magnum is simply trying capitalizing on a marketing trend -- especially following the startling news of Caitlyn Jenner's permanent transition to his female persona, not to mention transgender actress Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black being named woman of the year by Glamour magazine and the release of Trans, a new memoir about a journalist’s transition from male to female.  

To me, it’s clear that Magnum is attempting to bring awareness to an LGBTQ issue as well as shamelessly promoting their products, which might not necessarily be an entirely negative side effect. Mick Van Ettinger, senior vice-president of Magnum’s holding company, Unilever, echoes the duality of the promotional video. “The campaign was risky, different and daring for the brand," he said. "It carries a message about self-expression that has value in our society and with purpose driven brands the results are inherently part of the marketing objective.”

There is no denying that Magnum’s products are gaining attention derived from their provocative online commercials. Their YouTube content has earned over 4 million views since its launch in the spring of 2015. This means millions are learning about the brand’s products but also sharing, liking, and discussing the redefinition of gender. As Willam Belli, the project's animated spokesperson states, “I get to work with a brand that is pushing the boundaries and is delicious.”

Social progress never tasted so sweet.

[Photos: Vanity Fair, Time Magazine, Magnum]