This Chocolate Ad Brings Arrow-Slinging Cupid to Vivid, Violent Life for Valentine’s Day

Galaxy aims for a moving target

You know the story of Cupid, flouncing around all cute and hitting would-be lovers with arrows. Think about it for a minute.

It’s kind of creepily violent, right?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Mars brand Galaxy Chocolate gives us “Galaxy Chase,” which follows an unwitting woman rushing through town as she avoids arrows shot by the desire god. Created by AMV BBDO for the U.K., this could have come off as a classically cheesy piece of work.

Instead, it has the slow, elegant tension of a hunt.

There’s something of the imprecise sniper here. The arrows are long and heavy, with beautifully gilded, sharp points. As the target hustles from one moment to the next, they dent bike tires and shatter the reinforced glass of a subway train, inches from the face of an unsuspecting woman (a reassuring reminder that the guy slinging them isn’t sharing our reality).

But they nonetheless feel like serious weapons of warfare, meant to knock you off your feet. One man literally is when he’s hit right in the chest, just behind our protagonist. As he collapses onto his back, the wind knocked out of him, his mind fills with her.

She walks on, undaunted.

Will Cupid ever get the girl?

The spot concludes in a park, bringing A Midsummer Night’s Dream to mind. The visual storytelling here is gorgeous and quietly calculating. For the first time, you see glimpses of the god as he prepares his final blow—a faun’s leg, tawny wings, a single sea-blue eye, contrasted with impassive local fauna and the leather of the heroine’s handbag as she finally slows, to reach for something inside.

It’s modern woman meets mythology, but it’s also tidy civilization clashing with the messy primordial. As she tips a Galaxy chocolate square into her mouth, we see the god almost in full, just for a second. He is less conventionally handsome than wild and alien, a reproach to control. He releases his arrow, leaving the bow trembling.

An intake of breath: She’s hit.

And there, before her, is the man from the city who fell. Cupid retreats as the copy appears: “Rush less, feel more.”

I don’t know if this is an ad that sells chocolate. There’s something frightening about it … but maybe that’s the point. On good days, we move through our rituals with cool efficiency, probably missing a great deal of beauty and possibility in the process. Emotion—even pleasure and desire—complicates plans, and are best set aside for when we have time.

But we aren’t machines. Pleasure—and sometimes the messiness that comes with it—is part of the experience of living. It brings us tension and poetry—a sense of stakes, dramatic arcs that can’t be tucked in between 4:30 and 5:00.

Here, Galaxy suggests a little chocolate break in solitude can slow you down just long enough to let the universe give you a taste of something bigger than your benchmarks. Yet something about it, maybe in the music, laments that this has to be the case at all.

Why have desire and spontaneity been reduced to recess for a chocolate square midway through the day? It’s a question that’s probably too big to answer before Feb. 14, but it’s worth considering next time we slip away from the many demands of our cultural machine and come up for air.

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