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Food Advertising Fails

WendysFail Food Advertising Fail

Did you know that the food industry spends MORE money each year than tobacco on advertising?  Yearly, over $30 billion is invested in both direct advertising and promotions to get people to eat more food (particularly food that is energy dense and full of additives, sugar, salt – all those things that we tend to find addicting!).

I’m sure you’ve all seen and heard advertisements that seem less than true.  From diet products to “healthy” fast food meals, advertisements can run the gambit from just stretching the truth to telling outright lies.

Today I wanted to highlight two of my “favorite” advertisements that are currently being run.  The first is a radio ad from coca-cola.  Their new “Open Happiness” campaign focuses on making coke “fun” again.  Basically, if you’re in need of a little happiness, open up a bottle of Coke for an instant smile.

You can watch the full Music Video here, but here is the chorus: (Not gonna lie, it’s a catchy tune! ;)).

C’mon lift me up (it’s a brand new day)
Open up a lil happiness today
So I can be someone new
C’mon and lift me up (to a better way)
Open up a smile on another face
So I can (feel something new)

Open up some happiness
Open up some happiness
Open up some happiness…

The radio advertisement (sorry I couldn’t find an mp3 of it online!) goes something like this.  The catchy “Open Happiness” song starts playing (ooo…is this a new song on the radio?? I like it….) and then after going through the chorus once, a woman’s voice breaks in to tell us that having family time can be hard.  But with the new coca-cola contour bottle, family time is easier than ever. So grab a bottle of coca cola, and enjoy some time with your family!

Seriously?  I’ll admit it’s a catchy tune but saying coke = happiness is a stretch enough.  Now coke = easy family time?  Yes, I’m sure it is quick to whip out a liter of coke and pass it around the dinner table, but how much longer does it take to pour everyone a glass of water??

As little sense as that commercial makes, at least Coke doesn’t try to pretend it’s actually good for the health of your family.  These next commercials imply just that.

I’m sure you’ve all seen them — the new high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercials that aim to make viewers feel like idiots for ever questioning the health benefits of this substance.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Corn syrup is everywhere (literally).  Because corn is a highly subsidized crop, using corn syrup in products in place of sugar is much cheaper.  Not only that, but it keeps your food nice and moist and we tend to like the way it tastes.  Will eating it in “moderation” kill you?  No.  But to suggest that pouring your kids a glass of the stuff is healthy is completely false.  Seriously — neither is pouring your kids a glass of sugar.

My aim here is not to make a case regarding why you shouldn’t eat corn syrup.  While I personally have been trying to cut it out as much as possible, I don’t get too bent out of shape if I consume it sometimes.  Case in point – the amount of jelly beans I’ve been eating these past few weeks. ;)

All I suggest is that you do your research – there are plenty of resources online.  Here are a few to get you started: a Wikipedia article about HFCS, an article from the Mayo Clinic, an interesting article on MSN Health that actually highlights the difference between sugar and HFCS, and concerns about HFCS for those with diabetes.  Of course (to be fair), you can read what the Corn Refiners Association (i.e. the people who developed the above commercials) has to say about it here.

The advertising industry is pretty powerful.  It can make us want to buy things we never thought we needed…or that  we secretly know aren’t very good for us.  And with so much conflicting information out there about what we should and shouldn’t eat, it can sometimes be hard to know what to believe.

On the Lighter Side

You can actually find a ton of HFCS-spoof commercials on YouTube.  Most are dripping with sarcasm.  The following satire is one of my favorites (spin off of commercial number 2):

And finally, here is an article from The Onion announcing Coca-Cola’s decision to introduce a new 30-Liter size bottle.

What other food advertisements have you seen/heard that are completely ridiculous, a little shady, or downright false?

4 Responses to Food Advertising Fails

  1. I love your point that we consumers need to do our research. Unfortunately, as you’ve effectively pointed out, companies are not afraid to make ridiculous claims in their advertising campaigns. The sad thing is that there are many, many people who believe what they see/hear in these ads, and don’t take the time to fact-check anything. We all have to remember that the bottom line for these companies is money, so they will tell us anything that they think will make us open our wallets.
    .-= Katie @ Health for the Whole Self´s last blog ..The Truth About Cereal! And Other Hot Links =-.

    • Exactly. You make a good point about that — these companies aren’t out for our “best interests.” In fact, most companies that have the money to run such huge ad campaigns are probably promoting stuff that you shouldn’t be eating…

  2. I LOVE THIS POST. the irony in that Wendy’s sign is too much to handle. and the onion is perhaps my favorite “news source.” it actually started in madison where i went to school!

  3. You made such great points in this post! I couldn’t agree more that the companies do not have our best interest in mind but instead are just trying to make a buck. I love that you prescribe that we all do our research, this is so important. Not only is it important that you know what you’re putting in your body, but the process of finding your own truth and researching it ends up meaning more than being told the same information.

    I really dislike the messages of these advertisements. I can’t think of another good example, but I always dislike the cereal aimed at kids and calling it part of a complete, balanced breakfast. It almost never is!
    .-= Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com´s last blog ..Apple Granola Pancakes and My Weight Loss Process =-.

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