PSYC 123: The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food
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The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food
PSYC 123 - Lecture 16 - Everyone but Me: The Pervasive Reach and Powerful Influence of Food Marketing on Food Choices
Chapter 1. Food Marketing, Perception and Reality [00:00:00]
Professor Kelly Brownell: I’m very excited about today’s lecture. Well, you might ask why I’m not excited about every lecture, but I am. I’m especially excited about this one because there’s so much to say about the food marketing issue.
We’ll talk today about the food marketing landscape and then in a later class, we’ll talk about some of the fascinating issues that surround this topic: self regulatory pledges by the industry, what they’ve agreed to do to cut back in the face of rising public criticism of their marketing practices. We’ll talk about the First Amendment of the Constitution and how that protects the ability of marketers to market their products, and we’ll talk about the political landscape — about actions that people are considering taking, trying to do something about food marketing.
Before we get into that, I was asked to make two announcements. One is the Yale Sustainable Food Program is having a screening this evening of a movie called Hybrid that I haven’t seen, but it sounds pretty interesting. The details here are 212 York Street at 7:00 for this story of Milford Beagley, a farmer who was instrumental in the whole genetic modification of foods. If you’re interested in that, feel free to take part.
Then I was also asked by the Psi Chi group, the psychology group to announce a panel discussion that’s happening tonight in Kirtland Hall at 2 Hillhouse having to do with the psychology of elections and voting behavior. The names of the people here are the individuals from the faculty who are taking part in the discussion. I wish I didn’t have a commitment tonight, because that would actually be fun to go to. These people who are speaking come at this issue from a variety of different angles: political science, psychology, economics, and the like.
I’ll begin today given where we are in the season to wish you a Happy Halloween, and the Halloween theme will come through in the comedy clip that I’m going to show at the end. It’s probably the best comedy clip of the whole year, and it’s a Lewis Black comedy clip having to do with Halloween, so I urge you to stay for that. To show you how with it I am, in terms of the seasonal relevance of what we’re doing, I thought I would show this: food related themes for pets dressed up for Halloween.
Okay, so let’s talk about food marketing. I’m going to begin with showing you a clip. This is an advertisement that General Mills has put out that I believe is still running, having to do with their cereals. I’m going to show you the clip, and then I’d just like to get your reactions to this [video].
Okay, what are some thoughts about this particular clip? Does this make sense? Is it just them being straightforward and factual about their cereals? What does it imply? What’s embedded in this sort of a thing? Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, so the point, which is a good one, is that they took the healthy message and coupled it with cereals that might be high in sugar, things that people like, with Lucky Charms being one of the examples of that. Any other reactions to this? Any thoughts about it? Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, so it could be construed as misleading, because it implies that the cereal is actually healthier than it really is. Now that’s an interesting — you both hit very core points here, and so let’s follow up on those. If you take this advertisement there is the implication that the General Mills cereals got better when they went from not being all whole grain to being whole grain.
The question is how do consumers perceive this message, and how much healthier did those General Mills cereals get? What did they go to and from? If you look at the actual nutrition improvement, and compare that to the perception of improvement that gets created by a marketing endeavor like this, you have to wonder how the two line up.
In order to do this — in order to know the answer to this question we’d have to do a study to find out how much consumers believe the cereal is actually better than it used to be, and then we’d have to find out how much better it really is, and compare those two numbers. If there is a disconnect between those two, if the perceptions outrace the actual improvement in nutrition, then one could claim that an advertisement like this is misleading.
Now, we don’t know for a fact that that’s the case if we did that research, but that would be grounds for considering something like this potentially deceptive, misleading, unfair, unhelpful, damaging to public health or whatever; and maybe create the grounds for the public to get mad about it or for the government to do something about it.
Now again, the premise that there’s something misleading going on would have to be documented in research that we or others haven’t done. I use this as an example of the perceptions that created by marketing and the reality of the nutrition.
Here are the whole grain cereals, and as you can see, this is almost as large a font on these boxes as the size of the name of cereal itself. You see Golden Grahams, Trix, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Probably not cereals that a lot of nutritionists are prescribing to people for healthier diets. Yet, the implication here is that they’re somehow good. What you can’t see because it’s too small, is something called the goodness corner that General Mills uses. I’ll blow this up a little bit later and show you exactly what it means.
There’re interesting questions, and we deal with the issues of food marketing, but more or less, it comes down to what — how much of it is there, what impact is it having, who’s it having an impact on, and if the impact is bad, what can be done about it?
We’re going to play a little game to see how much you guys know about food marketing. What I’d like to do, is get three volunteers from this side of the room and three volunteers for this side of the room. I’m just going to show you icons from marketing and then have — see which group of three people can get it the quickest. It probably makes sense for people from the U.S. to do this, because this is more U.S. oriented than what people might see otherwise. How about three volunteers from here and three from here?
Just raise your hands. Okay come on up, okay come on up, you too, how about a third from over here? Come on okay, you got it, you come up. If we don’t get a volunteer I’m going to pick people. Okay, so we’ve got the all female team over here. Who can volunteer from this side? This is a fun thing to do. Okay, come on yes and you, and one more, okay come on up. Thank you guys for volunteering.
All right, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to show you a series of images on the slide and I want you to shout out, loudly so we can tell which team is doing it most quickly. Shout out what product or what company that image is from, okay? Like if I showed you the Marlboro Man then you would say Marlboro Cigarettes, something like that, okay that’s it. Then I’m going to intersperse this with some pictures of people, and I want you to tell me who the people are, okay?
All right and what I’d like you guys to do is — so you’ve got to shout it out loud, because these folks are going to have to tell who’s winning this contest, and so you guys can look at the images and see which of the teams shouts it out fastest.
Okay you ready? Here’s the first one, so be assertive and let us know. You don’t need to confer, you can just shout it out, here’s the first one.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, I think they got it over here, Honey Nut Cheerios, that’s number one, correct. Pretty fast response.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, well that’s who they are but —
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, vitamins is right but this is food, so the cereals we got right over here. You guys are ahead two to nothing from my — the way I count. Fruity Pebbles or Coco Pebbles are those things, okay.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Now that was pretty close, what do you think? Tie? You think they got it, okay two to one. Great, you guys are right. Now pay attention, if you will to how quickly they’re getting these things. Who’s this? Don’t give them the answer, we’ll ask you guys if they don’t know. Nobody knows? Does anybody know who this is?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Michael Chertoff, the Head of Homeland Security. Here’s the next image, get ready.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay who got it.
Professor Kelly Brownell: I’d say there, okay. You’re right, Pillsbury. Here’s the next one.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Yeah, you guys are doing great. It’s getting pretty close here, you’re right Count Chocula. You got that one fast.
Professor Kelly Brownell: No, it’s not Golden Grahams.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Yeah, there you got it. Golden Crisp. Somebody said it here and you guys got it right, so you’re pretty close on that one. Who’s this? Do you guys know? Anybody here now?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, excellent. Somebody in the audience got it, Secretary General of the United Nations. Next?
Professor Kelly Brownell: All right you guys nailed that one, Frosted Flakes. In a minute, I’m going to see who in the audience can do the best imitation of Tony the Tiger.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, very good Hamburglar, so that’s McDonald’s. I think you guys got that. I think you guys are ahead on this one, so you’re doing pretty well. Do you think you guys can catch up? Can you give 110%? Can you bring your A game? All right, can you step it up a notch?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Great, you did it, see you came through. All right, you just needed the Vince Lombardi talk. Kool-Aid was right on that, who is this? Anybody know?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, somebody in the audience got it. Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Notice how fast people are getting the food related images compared to these things. Okay —
Professor Kelly Brownell: Froot Loops, I think you guys got that one, excellent. Now we’ve just got a few more, but you’re doing great on these.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay that was a pretty close one, Rice Krispies.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, you guys got that one, Lucky Charms, excellent. I think I’ve got one more, see who can get this fastest.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Very good, you guys got Cap’n Crunch. I’ve got one more person, so tell me who this is? Do you guys know?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, you got President Levin, but not as fast as you got Cap’n Crunch. Just remember this when its time to have your degree handed to you by President Levin. I’m going to tell him that he got whooped by Cap’n Crunch.
What’s interesting about this of course, is how short the latency was between seeing the images and knowing what they’re exposed to. It’s remarkable how fast you guys got these, but of course you’re typical people from the United States who have been exposed to a barrage of this stuff over the life of the — your short lives so far already. Let’s have a hand for the contestants here.
One of the images that we showed was Tony the Tiger, and of course you know that they’re great. Would anybody like to take a shot at doing a Tony the Tiger imitation? Last class somebody nailed it unbelievably well? Anybody want to try? We’ve got a shy class this year. Okay, well if anybody wants to step forward and do this later we’ll do it, but let’s get moving along.
Chapter 2. How Does Food Marketing Affect Food Choices? [00:13:05]
One thing we did for the last time I taught this class in 2006 was give people a survey before the class on their knowledge and attitudes about food and related issues. One of the things we asked them in this survey, and unless there’s something remarkably different about the 2006 class from you guys, then I would expect the results to be pretty similar had we asked you the same question.
We asked them to what extent does food advertising affect others food choices? This will be as opposed to how much does it affect your food choices, of course. Here’s what people said in terms of their feelings about how much food advertising affects other people. 50% of people said very much, and 42% said it affects people somewhat. So that basically added up to about 100% and nobody — there was some other — there were some people who didn’t respond and things like that but you see there’s not even a slice of the pie for not at all.
People — the Yale students believe that food advertising affects others a lot. Of course why — how could it be otherwise? The food industry is spending billions and billions of dollars to do this. They’re not stupid. They wouldn’t be spending the money if it didn’t work, so this is probably pretty accurate, if you could really go in and find out how much advertising did affect people.
What was interesting was we asked, to what extent does food advertising affect your food choices? Here we get a little bit different background, a little bit different breakdown and it looks like this. Where you remember that 50% orange slice, in fact I’ll show you the two next to each other like this, and it’s really quite a bit different. Now this becomes — I don’t think there’s anything special about Yale students in this regard. I expect if we asked the general population we’d get a similar background. Maybe the numbers would be a little bit different, but the fact is, people believe that advertising works and it affects other people, but it doesn’t affect them. Most everybody believes that.
If that’s the case, it’s one very strong social impediment for taking action to do something about food marketing, if you believe it should be curtailed, restricted, regulated or whatever. Because if people have that attribution that I’m strong, I can resist it but everybody else can’t, then you can make the claim that well, everybody else should be strong like me and it’s their fault if they’re falling victim to advertising; so why should I do anything about it?
If you could calculate the number of people in the population that are affected by advertising, and then look from that to figure out how many people believe they’re affected by advertising, you’d get this sort of disjunction in all likelihood. That becomes very interesting, so marketing is a powerful, powerful force. It’s having a strong impact on people, but people don’t believe it’s affecting them in particular.
What’s at stake? A huge amount of money is at stake and a lot of the diet is at stake here. You can just look — now this is just advertising to children and these numbers are incredibly large. Of course we lose sight of — big numbers are big numbers and we don’t pay attention necessarily to what they mean, but let’s look at what this means for you as a typical person your age.
By the time you graduated from high school you will have 360,000 advertisements. 10,000 of those per year would have been for food; per hour of TV you would have seen 11 advertisement — 19 advertisements in total, 11 of them would be for food; and the percentage of those that would be unhealthy foods come out to be 95%: an absolutely remarkable imbalance between what should be marketed to people.
The most striking thing of all is that this is just television. This doesn’t take into account every time you walk past a soda machine, that big red Coca-Cola soda machine in schools. It ignores the billboards, it ignores everything you saw on the internet, it ignores the product placements in movies and televisions — all these other things that we’ll bring up in just a minute; so it’s really quite remarkable.
What’s changed a lot is the amount of advertising, but also the forms it comes in. When I was a boy, and I think I have mentioned this before, the only advertising I really saw were Saturday morning cartoon advertisements for sugared cereal. There really wasn’t much food advertising going on beyond that. There was some but not a lot, and that was mainly the exposure, but it was only television, there really wasn’t much else going on.
Now, the number of ways is really phenomenal. We’ll cruise through some of these ways today, and give you an overview of how much individuals are exposed to. What I would hope you would form from this a picture of what the typical American individual, let’s say an American child, and then somebody your age, and somebody who’s an adult, how much they’ve been exposed to; how many ways they’ve been exposed to it; and what impact this has on their lives, because a lot is at stake here. A lot is potentially at stake for public health if the marketing landscape changes, and a lot is at stake of course for the industry, because they are very heavy investors in marketing, as you saw.
Chapter 3. Icons, Mobile Advertising, Co-Branding, Character Licensing [00:18:23]
There’s marketing to new levels. There is traditional marketing like the television things that we’re all used too; but there’s a whole other generation of marketing that’s out there now that has been called these things: stealth, guerilla, and viral marketing. You’ve probably heard some of these terms. Now these are not terms that were developed by the nutrition advocacy communities who oppose marketing. These are terms generated by the industry itself, by the marketers, by the people who buy their services and things like that.
You can guess pretty much what the intent is from these words. Just stop to think for a moment about the morality of what these words mean. Do you want to be the kind — do you want to live in a culture and a society where people are marketing to you using gurrilla methods, using viral methods, using stealth methods? What is this?
Sure you guys are smart, you have some cognitive and intellectual resources to defend yourself against these things, although you’re probably much less immune to it than you believe you are, but nonetheless you have resources, but what about a child? What if you’re a parent? Do you want your children to be exposed to marketing techniques that the industry itself calls these things? It raises some very interesting moral, legal, ethical kind of questions.
Let’s talk about the various ways, and I’m going to make some parallels with an industry that’s well known to all of us, and look at how similar some of the marketing methods are between the food industry and this other industry too. There’s the development of original icons. So Tony the Tiger, all the ones that we showed you before, are original icons. You know Tony the Tiger doesn’t have any life outside of its association with that kind of a cereal, and Ronald McDonald, as you’ll see, is one of the widely recognized icons in the world, so these are very powerful.
Now the parallel industry that did this same sort of thing would be the tobacco industry, with things like the Marlboro Man. The Marlboro Man became, and still is, a worldwide symbol of that particular product, and so there is some similarities in the way these industries have marketed things. Of course, it’s not just food and tobacco; its lots of other things have original icons as well.
There are so many examples of how marketing gets about, and this isn’t a widely used form of marketing, but it’s interesting. You got the kind of mobile marketing where you get this thing happening and you see the Kiss mobile and then of course the — probably the most famous one of all — Oscar Meyer thing, so that’s another form of marketing, but it’s not a big fraction of the overall marketing exposure.
Here’s one that’s bigger and potentially more influential, because children are involved. Because children are involved they start developing brand loyalty, they start developing their image of what companies they should feel positive about, and what kind of products are okay to eat. Co-branding with toys happens a good bit. If you go to a Toys R Us these days or even a Wal-Mart and look through the toy section, it’s very interesting what you’ll see, and you’ll see a lot of these kinds of things.
I went two years ago when I was getting ready for this lecture in that previous class, and I was surprised by how many food related things there were. You got the McDonald’s drive-in in the little toy set here, where you can be the teller at the drive-in window, and then you can dispense all the foods and you’ve got your little walkie-talkie and everything.
So that would be an example, but there are lots of other examples. You have this one from McDonald’s, you have this one from McDonald’s would be an example, here’s one from Hostess where you buy the little snack oven and you can make your own Twinkies and cupcakes, so you can learn to bake and bake these sort of things. Here’s a Coca-Cola chess set that you can play and so there are just — I mean unbelievable number of examples of these sorts of things.
What they do presumably, because the industry continues to invest in this, is that they associate the food with fun, they give children a lot of exposure to the food images and the logos and things like that. In the case of the McDonald’s thing, you’re even training somebody to understand what goes inside — what goes on inside the restaurant.
Character licensing is a really big issue, and this is an important issue because the industry has been criticized soundly for doing this. A number of the players in the industry have made self-regulatory pledges. For example, they’ve said, well we’ll do — we’ll use — we won’t use our characters and associate them with unhealthy foods. There’s a lot of question about whether they’re actually following through, and things like that are now being tested; but at least there are pledges going on. We’ll talk in a later class about why industry makes changes on their own, when they’re not forced to do it.
There are a lot of discussions one can have about why an industry would be motivated to do that. Among the possible motivations is that they want to make the appearance that they’re able to police themselves, so they don’t stand in the line of fire from government, for government to crack down on the marketing practices.
So there are a lot of character licensing. We talked about the Flintstones before. As you know, Flintstones are on cereals like this, but they’re also on a lot of other things. Somebody mentioned the vitamins but you see the ice cream, you see two kinds of cereal, and you see the Pez containers. The Flintstones are really everywhere and they’re remarkably powerful and they’ve existed for years, and years, and years in this context.
Now, something you may not know is that the Flintstones have a long history of being licensed to other — to industries, to associate characters with products and this is not made up.
This is for real, so here is Fred Flintstone back at a time when the Flintstones were being used to sell cigarettes. These are similar images from that sort of thing. Now you look at this and it appears absolutely shocking, doesn’t it? I mean you’ve got this — these images that are embedded in the American psyche, images where kids are very highly influenced. Kids love the Flintstones, and they see something like this, what does it do to them? This is the sort of thing that would generate outrage and shock and wouldn’t be permitted, in fact isn’t permitted.
Will there be a day when we’ll have the similar view of the Flintstones associated with push-up ice cream, with sugared cereals and the like? Well, I can’t predict the future, but there are some signs of this sort of public outrage beginning to mount around this kind of thing, and the character licensing becomes an important feature of that.
Of course, there’s a lot more going on than just the Flintstones. Here you see Shrek, you see Dora the Explorer, and you see Scooby Doo, so let’s see. When I was writing the Food Fight book — you guys may remember this from the section in Food Fight — when I was writing that book I went with my daughter and a boy that she babysat for, and we became the surveillance and we went to a supermarket in Branford, the town where I lived. We went to the supermarket just to spot every instance of a licensed character for some food, and we just made a list of it and that’s what we put down in the book.
Well, our research team at The Rudd Center has gone back in subsequent years, two times separated by a few years each, to see whether the landscape has really changed. It hasn’t very much. There’s still approximately the same number of food products with licensed characters on them, and the food products are every bit as unhealthy as they were before.
The industry is saying that we can clean up our house and we can regulate on ourselves, is disputed by some people, and they’re critical of the self regulation and say that’s an argument for government being involved. The industry says, oh no we’re really making progress, it’s going to take some time and we have these long term contracts with the food vendors — between the food vendors and the people that own the copyrights for the licensed characters, and it’s going to take some time for those contracts to expire. That may be a legitimate argument; only time will tell whether the self-regulatory pledges matter.
Obviously, this is having an effect on food consumption. It’s one of things where you almost don’t have to test it, although researchers including us will, but you almost don’t have to because you just say, why would the industry spend the money doing this if it’s not working? Because they know, they’re pretty smart about the use of their money. But that doesn’t mean that we know exactly how much effect is has on people, and how strong the effect on their diet and their health would be.
Sponge Bob is interesting. I was talking to somebody from Nickelodeon, which owns Sponge Bob. This is several years back — I’m not sure if the number is still the same, but they said that they make a billion dollars a year just from Sponge Bob, the licensing on Sponge Bob. Forget the show and forget the advertising that happens during the show, this is just for the licensing of Sponge Bob for various products, and you can see some examples of them here.
There’s a lot of character licensing going on, and people come down in different places about this. Some people feel, well it’s sort of free enterprise, and the people who own — who developed these characters, a company like Nickelodeon or Disney, or Warner Bros., or whoever it is, has invested a lot. They’ve taken some risk in this, and they create a character that works and has some public visibility, that it’s their perfect right to cash in on that, and to use it whatever way is going to benefit the company and it’s shareholders.
Other people say, well companies profiting benefiting their shareholders is good, but only to the point where you’re not damaging the public health. When you get to that point we’re going to step in and do something about it.
People will come down in all places here. Some people say we shouldn’t get involved, other people say government should; some people say industry self regulation is enough, and other people say it doesn’t. There are a lot of opinions on this, but this is the landscape. You may like it, you may not, but that’s the landscape.
Chapter 4. “Learning” with Food, Product Placement [00:29:03]
Another interesting thing that the food industry does is associate foods with a lot of different things. Some of them have — are even educational in nature. How many of you at some point in your academic life, going back to the early years can remember something that you — that was associated with food, like a book jacket cover, umbrellas in your school that had food company logos on them, your computers that had something on them related — how many of you would say that something like that happened along the way? Not too many; some but the number seems to be declining which is good, because the schools’ landscapes are starting to change. But you see lots of examples of this thing.
Here are books, these I just checked out on Amazon, books available that — for young kids and so you’ve got M&M’s Math, Twizzlers Percentage Book, Froot Loops Counting Fun Book, and The Kisses Subtraction Book; and of course this is not the whole universe of these things, it’s just examples, but these have pretty interesting effects on kids.
Now if you’re a parent, does it make sense to buy a book like this for your child? Well, it depends on your aim. If your aim is to get them excited about math, or subtraction, or percentages, and of course they know these products and they like these products then it might make sense to do it. If you had the Hershey Kisses Subtraction Book maybe that would be better than the broccoli and cauliflower subtraction book, and it might actually get kids to do more of the math. We don’t know that to be the case, but a parent might think that.
But then, is there a nefarious down side here, because of the branding that goes on and the exposure to kids of — to making these products seem more legitimate and more good and associated with learning and things like that? These are all testable questions; these are things that one could do if you get it and do the research.
Some research has been done on these things and — but there are big gaps in our knowledge. Again, you can make up your mind about whether the overall impact of something like this is good or bad, and how the two countervailing forces might offset or not offset each other. Here’s another example, the M&M’s Christmas Gift Book. Again, there are many, many things like that out there.
A very prominent way to advertise these days — and you guys are savvy enough to understand at least some of it — are product placements. Product placements had — it’s an interesting history of this, and I learned a little bit actually about this last night when I was reading up on it and I learned a little bit more about the history that I knew. I thought that it was a pretty recent phenomenon and going back maybe thirty years, but in fact it goes back even further than that. There was only a little bit of it over the years and then it exploded and now it’s at an all time high, and product placements are occurring all over the place.
A little bit of the history looks this. The first one that people believe occurred was within a movie called Wings in 1927, and Hershey was the product that was placed. There were payments presumably took place at that point, and the product got placed in the movie. Then you see the other examples there, and then the one that people cite as the most modern — the modern start of this with food.
There were tobacco ones that occurred, in fact still do occur in movies where characters are paid or the producers are paid to depict people smoking in movies. It’s interesting when you watch a movie, for example, and you see somebody smoking cigarettes, to stop and pause and say, well is that something that they wrote into the script because it really needed to be there? Or is somebody being paid to do that? I don’t know what percentage fall under those two categories, but there certainly is a lot of payment going on for that kind of thing. ET has been cited as the first one to do food product placements in the modern era, and does anybody know what product that was?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Reese’s Pieces, that’s exactly right, so that’s a blurry picture there but it shows the ET character with the Reese’s Pieces. That turned out, from the industry’s point of view, to be a pretty good thing to do and then lots of other product placements have occurred over the years.
Most people don’t realize how much of it there is in various movies and things. Here’s an example, and just a few visual examples of this, this movie American Dreams has the character looking and you can see the soup can sitting there on the kitchen counter and I didn’t — don’t remember seeing this movie, and I just certainly wouldn’t remember this particular scene, so who knows whether these are part of the plot line going on. One would guess probably not, but they’re there as a visual image.
And so the cash register rings, the people who make American Dreams make money, the Campbell’s Soup people pay them, and then these sort of product placements are occurring.
Now this is an example of stealth marketing. If you’re watching television and a commercial comes on in the middle of a show, you know that the advertising has begun, that the show has now stopped, the advertising is now begun, and then that stops and the show resumes. There’s this cognitive awareness that advertising is occurring and people who want to protect themselves from it, or buffer themselves from it, are cued to when the advertising is occurring.
But more and more the marketers are finding that that’s not such an effective way to advertise. They still do plenty of it, believe me, as you know, they’re finding that it’s losing its impact. There are technological reasons that it’s losing its impact, people TiVo things, they record things, they fast forward through commercials, they get up and leave the room, they make phone calls, they go to their cell phone and do email, a lot of things distract people from those traditional messages.
What the marketers have found is to overcome that you have to do things where people can’t escape the marketing image. They just can’t get away from it if they’re going to be exposed to that form of media, plus the natural defense that some people have that kicks in when you start seeing an advertisement.
So you don’t process this of course each time you see an ad, but the basic cognitive script inside somebody’s head is, okay advertising has begun — let’s say you’re watching some documentary or something and you say, okay now at this moment I’m going to switch from watching this documentary which is more or less subjective information and nobody is trying to sell me anything; to the advertisement where somebody does have commercial intent, they’re trying to get me to buy their product, and I may listen to it, I may not, but at least you know that it’s going on.
In this case you don’t necessarily know that it’s going on, people are becoming a little more aware, but it’s happening a lot and you can’t escape it unless you just don’t watch the movie. People who are — who have less cognitive defense, children in particular, might be especially vulnerable to these kind of messages. Here you see the Tom Hanks movie with a Starbucks logo in the background, and so there are lots of examples of this kind of thing. There’s some very prominent ones.
Somebody did an analysis of this particular movie called The Forgotten. Down at the bottom are all the different product placements that occurred in this movie. If you happen to have gone this movie or you see a movie like this, you don’t go and you sit down and say, there are going to be thirty advertisements within this movie, and I’ve got to be alert to them, I’ve got to watch for them, I’ve got to present some defense against them. You don’t do that of course. You just watch the movie.
In fact, if you knew all this was going on it may hurt your enjoyment of the movie, but of all these different things that you see and hear — so the movie makers cash in, they’ve got the movie, they make money from the movie, but they make money from all these people who were paying to have their images embedded in the movie and then you can see the list of five food related things. Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: That’s a good question, how much compensation do they get? I don’t know. It would be interesting to find that out. What was the Coca-Cola exposure? It would be interesting to go through this movie and find out exactly where Coca-Cola is in it, what kind of imagery was used, and how much got paid for that and I just don’t know. What would be interesting to know and we will never know, but the industry does, but it’s all proprietary information, is for every dollar you spend how much of your product gets consumed? I mean, what’s the bang for the buck in other words? If you could list all these forms of marketing where does product placement fit in with television advertising, with kids games, with books, whatever it happens to be? I don’t know the answer to that, it would be very interesting to know. Here’s where that question has a special relevance and we’ll talk about this later in class.
There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s where a federal law got passed called The Fairness Doctrine. What it did was it demanded for the tobacco industry in particular, and for the television industry, that every time a tobacco ad was aired on television there had — or every — a certain amount of that there had to be equal time for anti-smoking messages, so the TV networks were required to air anti-smoking programs when they were doing tobacco advertisements.
In the beginning, what happened is that these anti-tobacco ones started — they were being shown during public service announcements at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and the other stuff of course was being shown on prime time, but they became more and more prominent with time. What the industry found is that for every dollar they were spending on marketing their products they were getting burned because of the anti-tobacco message, so they were losing money doing this in terms of overall sales.
What did the tobacco industry do? Now nobody knew this, the public health — I mean except them. The public health community didn’t know, government officials didn’t know, but the industry came in and made — did exactly what the food industry is doing now, saying we’ll police ourselves, we care about the health of our customers, I can show you some great quotes on that, we’re deeply concerned with the welfare and the health and the well being of our customers, and so we’re going to voluntarily withdraw advertising on television. What we need in return is a guarantee the government’s not going to take away other forms of advertising. What they yielded on was a form of marketing that the public health community didn’t know — and the government officials didn’t know — was cost ineffective, they were losing money doing this, and they gave it away as if it were a big public health maneuver.
People celebrated this, even prominent people in public health, because at that time people thought television is the medium, and if they give on that — give in on that that’s a really big advance. But it turned out to not be the case, because then every dollar they took away from that form of marketing that was losing them money, they put into forms of marketing that were getting more people to smoke.
The question is, is that same process being played out in food now? We don’t know, the history is being written right now, but it’s an interesting — this is — the product placements are not something that the industry is necessarily embarrassed about, because there are awards for who does it best, believe it or not, which is interesting.
Now I suspect this is going to change because people are becoming more aware of these kinds of things and are thinking it may not be the best thing for our well being. One of the more prominent examples of product placement would be this, the American Idol show where you see the Coca-Cola glasses in front of the three judges.
The question got asked about how much does this cost? Well, in this case we know, at least we know informally. I was at an event in California and met one of these judges and I was talking about these Coca-Cola glasses, well that judge said several things that were very interesting. It’s just — they reported that person to me so this is nothing official but what that person said is that this was $40 million dollar exchange between Coca-Cola and the show and also said that none of them drink Coca-Cola out of those glasses. Not that that matters so much because people aren’t attending to what’s in the glasses. It’s just the appearance of what’s in the glasses. $40 million dollars is a lot money but this is a very popular show, the exposure of kids to this is absolutely enormous, although it’s not programming just for kids. So what happens to your cognitive defenses here? What happens to cognitive defenses of children? They see this, and very few people pause and say, oh well this is bought and paid for, I’m now being advertised to. Kids especially then might see something like this and code it as — although not articulating it this way but this is what goes into the brain and gets coded — is that these are fabulously wealthy famous people, there are lots to admire about them, and they drink Coca-Cola.
This would be an example of product placement which is an example of stealth marketing. You don’t know you’re being marketed necessarily, you’re not being told, there’s no demarcation between the show and the advertisement, but it’s still happening.
Chapter 5. Schools, The Internet and Advergaming [00:42:37]
Let’s talk about schools for a moment, there’s a lot of marketing that goes on in schools. Yes it’s true that school systems are beginning to cut back on this. A lot from public pressure and a lot because school officials are starting to become alarmed at what’s actually happened to the school landscape, but there’s still a lot goes on and you can see examples of how these things are happening in schools.
How many of you remember being exposed to Channel 1 in school? Okay, it’s the TV news broadcast that you would have that would be shown for short times of the day, how many again? Fair amount of you okay — well of course what happens in that exchange is that the Channel 1 people give video equipment to schools. So it’s sort of a free gift for the schools, but what they agree to in exchange is showing those — that doing that programming, which is partly news and partly advertising for a certain amount of the school day, and then kids are exposed to advertising from some of the large food companies.
The most recent example of that is something called bus radio where some enterprising company has figured out a way to give radios — I mean give radio equipment to buses so they can pipe in stuff coming from radios. There’s usually music on it, music that would be appropriate to the demographics of that particular group that’s on the bus, but advertising is interspersed.
They’re selling it to the schools by saying that this helps calm kids down, it reduces discipline problems on buses and the like, and the school people won’t have to pay for. So it’s a free gift in one way, but is it really a gift after all if the advertising going on is hurting the health of the kids? Again, there’s another example of plus and minus. There’s some benefit potentially to it but there is some downside and how do these two things balance.
Well there’s an empirical test of this, one can do studies and really find out this, although they’re hard to do and they cost money, but then there’s also almost a philosophical test. How do you — where do you stand with this? Do you believe that that is inherently bad to be exploiting kids by doing this sort of thing? And the school systems that are really there to protect and enrich our kids is collaborating in the process, maybe that’s inherently or morally wrong, or is it just capitalism at work. It depends on your perspective but there’s an up and down side of most of these sort of things.
Now, the school landscape has changed entirely. Now when I was a kid this is what the school landscape looked like if there was anything like this in the schools at all. In my high school I don’t even remember if there was a soda machine. I sort of have this image of one machine somewhere in the school but I’m not sure I’m recollecting that correctly, but if there were any machines there would have just been one and it would have looked like something like this, and of course it would have been a 6.5 or 8 ounce bottle.
What the school landscapes these days are looking more and more like this. When my son Kevin was in the Branford High School and this was maybe eight, nine, ten years or something, he and I went to his school after school one day and we went through the school, and this was all written up in the Food Fight book, and there were thirteen machines in that school. I mean I had none or one, he had thirteen, and of course you know what’s being sold in those machines. This is the landscape, so schools have become a marketing opportunity.
Now, should a parent be mad about this? Should you be mad about it? Should the students be made about it? Well the defense against this is that schools make money and that these kids can walk right by those machines, there’s nothing making them put money in the machines and buy it, but the companies say, if you really talk to them, that they don’t make an awful lot of money from the sales of the things in the schools because they have to split the income with the school. They do make some, but they say it’s really not a big money maker for us, but think of the branding and think of the advertising. I mean these kids may sit in this lunch room everyday, and everyday they’re exposed to that. It’s brightly colored, it’s right there in their faces, and so you can’t deny probably that it has impact, or again, why would the industry do it?
Now the industry for many years, the soft drink industry, and their trade association that represents them has said, we’re doing the schools good, schools are profiting from this because it pays for the soccer uniforms, it pays for the band trip, it pays for the debate team and things like that and to some extent that’s true.
But the industry has dressed it up as if they’re helping support these things, like the Coca-Cola Company is writing a check to Branford High School for the band let’s say.
They’re not doing that, the soft drink companies aren’t putting the dollars into the machines. Those are the kids and the parents of the community who are paying money into the machines and the soft drink industry takes a cut of it.
So you could make the case that it’s just like a tax on the people in the community, a voluntary tax because people can choose whether to put money in the machine, but it’s the members of the community who are paying ultimately for the band uniforms, and the soccer trips, and all those sort of things, but some of the money gets siphoned off to go to the industry. So overall, it may not be a very effective way for the community to fund its education.
Here would be an example of the score board that was on the football field at Branford. This all looks good, Coca-Cola supports the Branford Hornets. Well, one could reverse that and say the Branford Hornets support Coca-Cola couldn’t you? So it’s interesting. My children were on swim teams and at one swim meet that we went to these were the chairs that they sat in, so you see these kinds of things around a good bit and it’s really true that the schools have become a commercial opportunity.
You see examples like this, Ronald McDonald in front of those enraptured children. Ronald’s probably not there saying you should eat chicken nuggets, may not ever say anything about McDonald’s products themselves, but there is a clear association going on here, and the association McDonald’s and education settings it happens a lot in the schools. In fact, almost every year the New Haven Register has a story about some school system where the teachers go and become counter clerks at McDonald’s for an evening. Then people from the community, from the school are told about this, they come in, they get to see their teachers working behind the counter, and the school gets some money from it.
What’s the overall impact? Here would be another example of that kind of thing. The schools have become a commercial opportunity. Should they be? Should a public school become a place where some company that has nothing to do with education profits, and especially if there’s negative impact on our kids, and of course everybody comes down on that.
One of the newest forms of marketing is you can only imagine, is the internet, and some people have documented the presence of something that’s called advergaming, which are games mainly for children, that are really advertisements. I’ll show you some examples of these.
Now again, the internet becomes interesting because there are question about how much the parent actually knows about what kids are seeing on the internet, and how much control they have over it. To the extent they’re getting a lot of negative messages about food, could have an effect.
Here’s an example of a website that I captured yesterday, so these are all current. This is a Burger King one, where kids go on and join the Club BK, and play all these engaging games and things. Then within the games there are products from the company of course, as you might imagine. Here’s an example of one called Postopia, you see that up here, that has all of these different games that kids can play, so it would be pretty hard to run out of imagination there and time to play all those games. Those are for Post Cereals, as you might imagine.
I don’t know if this is still current, but several years ago on the Post Cereal Postopia Website and some of the advertising, they were doing, was this thing for kids: eat cereal save the world, and it has all the characters there. It seems funny, and what’s the big harm here? Well, maybe there’s not much harm, who knows; but you could also say that this idea that these cereals — and you see them down here in the box, the Honeycomb, the Fruity Pebbles, Coco Pebbles, Golden Crisp, The Oreo O’s cereal — that kids are seeing each cereal save the world; here are the cereals that you should save the world with; you’ve got the superheroes, all this kind of stuff; what kind of impact does that have?
Here’s another example of the Skittles website, and if you want to go to these things and actually see them, in fact this might make an interesting project for somebody in the class if you don’t have a final project idea, is to go into some of these websites and actually analyze what’s there. The URLs are listed right at the top of each of these things, so there’s a Skittless one. Here’s a particularly colorful one with lots of different games, so you can go into the arcade with your mouse, you can pick one of these games and then play it.
Then of course within these are embedded the products, and so you earn points by capturing the product, or finding the product in hidden places. Again, I don’t know if this is current, but there was a time where kids would earn points by doing well with the games, and then they’d hit a certain barrier, and they would be told that you can get to the next barrier if you give us the email address of a friend.
And then of course the friend becomes a target of opportunity and so that’s the whole viral part of it spreading. Here’s an example of the Fruit Gushers one where you redo your room, so there are many, many examples of those things and again they’re current as of yesterday. There was a report written on this by The Kaiser Family Foundation that really is good. Again, if anybody needs an idea for a project, you can go get this report. It’s right on the web at the website I listed there. It talks about how much of it there is, and what effects it might be having on kids.
So it’s a very interesting phenomenon, it’s a new generation of marketing, and one of the issues really becomes: does a parent’s ability to regulate their child’s exposure to these things get eroded? When I was a kid, and then when my kids were kids, and when you guys were kids, is the parent’s role in this less than it used to be because they don’t know all the forms its coming in? And they’re not with their kids all the time so they just can’t regulate it?
Some people may think that doesn’t really matter because it’s not having much impact. Or they think, well that’s sort of real life, so what’s the big deal? Or somebody may feel that that’s not really not good, but the parents do have the authority, the responsibility for their kids, and if parents want to raise their kids in a commercial free environment, it’s becoming more and more difficult to do it.
Chapter 6. Endorsements, Sponsorships, Buying Up Space, Packaging [00:53:50]
Celebrity endorsements of course, are a big part of the picture. You can probably construct in your own mind a vast list of people who have endorsed food products. Can you just give me examples just from things you know off the top of your head?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Tiger Woods doing food?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Doing Nike and things like that, that’s true. What about food in particular? Go ahead.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, Michael Phelps and Frosted Flakes, current one from the Olympics.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, so teams with things like Nature Valley Bars, other examples? Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, David Beckham with Pepsi. Yes?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, Michael Jordan and McDonald’s.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, Michael Jordan and hot dogs. Yes?
Professor Kelly Brownell: Okay, the Got Milk has a long line of celebrities, that’s exactly right. Okay, so go ahead.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Campbell’s Chunky Soup with athletes, especially football players. Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: Kobe Bryant and Sprite. Okay so great. In just a short time, we came up with lots of examples of these sorts of things. My guess is that — I don’t know how much it costs to get Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, or David Beckham to endorse your product — but my guess is it’s probably not cheap or else they wouldn’t give their names away that way. It’s worth it to the companies of course because of the associations that people make, probably especially kids.
This has a long history as well. Here’s Ronald Reagan before he became President doing cigarettes. There are many examples of this. On the left, you have Mrs. Humphrey Bogart, that at the time was Lauren Bacall, and so she talks about how great it is for — to do this sort of tobacco. There you have doctors! More doctors smoke Camels then any other cigarettes.
These examples are interesting and you say, well that’s the old times, and we would never put up with that now. Well that’s right, but how different is it from the food endorsements that are going on? You can make up your own mind about that, but there are some people who say there are startling similarities between happened with tobacco and what happened with food.
Could it be, today, if some popular celebrity endorsed cigarettes — I mean let’s just say Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, David Beckham — whoever it was did a cigarette ad and they were shown smoking cigarettes and saying this is good for you, their public image would go down the toilet in a second. They would never do that, it would be huge public relations liability, and the public would be outraged. My guess is that the league that represents them might even step in and take action, because of the message it sends to kids.
But you see this sort of thing, so it’s really quite remarkable. Here are just some of the examples with food. Here’s a Pepsi one, and the Burger King with Shaquille O’Neal. Somebody mentioned Beckham so you see that, and here you have Venus and Serena Williams doing McDonald’s so there are many examples of that. Now, the sports sponsorships are very interesting as well. There’s a history that goes back with this. You’ve got the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, is an example of something that’s happened previously.
Does anybody remember the first time that an industry got involved with sponsorship of women’s sports? Okay, before your time. It was Virginia Slims Tennis Tour, women’s tennis tour. There are lots of quotes back at that time from prominent women’s tennis players saying, well this is a huge advance for women’s tennis players because it brought up the amount of income they could make at tournaments, it made them more visible, there was a lot of positive things that happened from the athletic point of view for women’s tennis, it really had a great impact on that from that point of view. But of course, it’s associated it with this particular brand of cigarettes.
There are lots of food examples now. This year the Fiesta Bowl was the National Championship Game, I forget who played and which year it was, but here you have a prominent sports sponsorship. You’ve got the racecar things, so NASCAR is involved and then this is the Pepsi Center in Denver where the basketball and I believe the hockey teams play. This is pretty prominent happening today too.
There’s another form of advertising that’s interesting about buying up space, I’ll call it, where the advertisers are advertising in interesting ways. Here would be an example of that kind of thing, where they have — people are paid to have this stuff put on their cars. Here would be another example, non-food related one, but somebody has the RV, a company can pay them potentially to have their RV becoming a mobile advertisement.
Then there are companies — I actually know this because there’s a person that I’m acquainted with who does this sort of thing, who’s in business to do this kind of thing — to sell the sides of trucks, to broker deals between a truck company and the company — in this case Pizza Hut — to use the side of the truck to become a mobile advertiser. You probably assume that if you see this truck on the highway, that there are Pizza Hut things inside the truck, that it has something to do with the company, but that’s not necessarily true.
What’s happened with marketing more or less, is that every moment of the day, every opportunity to expose you to messages is being exploited. Well, I mean, there are probably some that aren’t being exploited but will. There are people test marketing everything now. Test marketing advertisements on a little flash screen above the urinals in restrooms, and I’ll talk about some new frontiers as well, but there’s — you’re potentially at almost no time you’re safe from it, if you consider the exposure to be not good.
Packaging is interesting. Now here’s an example I promised you of Cookie Crisp cereal, a General Mills cereal. Part of the packaging here is what you see in the top right hand corner, this thing called the goodness corner, and I’ll blow that up for you. Here’s the goodness corner for Cookie Crisp cereal.
So what happens here is General Mills creates it own set of symbols. They say okay we’re going to define what’s good for you and what’s not. We’re going to set our own standards for what it means to be low in sugar, or low in fat, or low in salt, or whatever and then we’re going to take our own self designed symbols and apply them to our own products.
The consumer sees this kind of thing and what do they make of it? Well we don’t know, but the obvious intent here is to make something like Cookie Crisp cereal seem like a good thing. In this case, you have the twelve vitamins and minerals; well let’s break down each of these three symbols.
By the way, General Mills has a whole bunch of symbols, I don’t know how many, but it might be ten or twelve symbols that you can apply to cereal, and the definitions they use and the number of potential symbols one can apply, means that there’s probably no food ever made in the history of humankind that doesn’t qualify for at least some symbol. They even have one that says energy. It’s a symbol that says energy, well you may remember from earlier classes what energy means: it means calories. So it has calories, but it’s in the goodness corner! What does that mean?
Well okay, twelve vitamins and minerals, we’ll start with that. American children, for the most part, are not vitamin and mineral deficient. And if they were, is this the medium in which you’d like to see the vitamins and minerals delivered? Well probably not. Good source of calcium, well the calcium is from the milk, so you could pour milk on a rock and call it a good source of calcium.
Now think about the low fat. Well, sort of a basic reality of food is if you want people to really like it you have to put in either a lot of fat, a lot of sugar, or both. What the industry has found, for the most part, is that you can reduce one but you have to push up the other, or else people won’t like it as much.
That was the Snack Well Cookie phenomenon. Snack Well cookies came out with low fat cookies. Many people — the urban lore is that many people felt licensed to eat a lot of them because they were low in fat, but the company found, Nabisco I believe, found that when they reduced the fat in these cookies people didn’t like them as much so they had to jack up the sugar, so the Snack Wells were the same in calories after the fat was reduced as they were before — before the fat was taken out. If there even was a Snack Wells at that point but the calories are the same but they get marketed in a certain way: low in fat, but probably very high in sugar; and if it’s high in sugar it could be low in fat. So you can see how a self serving system of symbols like that could lead people to believe that something is healthier then it really is.
Now the just — on Monday, and I’ll talk about this in class next week — on Monday there was an announcement by a whole conglomeration of food companies that they’re going to start using a system of standard symbols that they call smart choices. We’ll walk through what that means and why the industry would do that. Is it good for nutrition or bad? We’ll talk through that.
Now interestingly, on the side of the Cookie Crisp cereal when I took this picture, was an endorsement by The American Heart Association that this is somehow good for you. Well yes, it meets The American Heart Association’s criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol, but what about the sugar in this thing? Isn’t The American Heart Association concerned with Diabetes, obesity, all kinds of things related to high sugar intake, high sodium intake, don’t they care about that stuff? Well of course they do, so you have to ask what would compel The American Heart Association to lend its credibility and its resources and things like that for the sale of Cookie Crisp cereal. Well I can’t read their minds, but certainly money changes hands in a transaction like that, so it’s interesting.
If you’re the food industry, it’s interesting who you can buy. You can buy Kobe Bryant, you can buy Michael Jordan, you can buy Beckham, you can buy the Williams’ sisters, you can but them. Maybe they’re not all for sale, but at least some of them are, and I don’t know if all those stars would still do it, but at least at one point they did. You can buy The American Heart Association. Now that might be critical of The American Heart Association and they may object to this characterization that you’re just being bought off, they might view it as well we’re trying to teach people what’s good to eat and stuff like that, but a lot of people would say this is not good.
My guess is, if you took all the nutritionists that are engaged with The American Heart Association one and another and said, should we be eating more or less of Cookie Crisp cereal, what do you think they’d say? Then you get this kind of thing going on, so it’s interesting.
Chapter 7. Names Changes, “Eat Like a Man,” New Frontiers [01:05:19]
The industry will change the name of things so Sugar Frosted Flakes changed its name to Frosted Flakes so the sugar gets lost. Super Sugar Crisp becomes Golden Crisp so they lose sugar in the name as well, not necessarily the products have changed just the name.
Here was an interesting one, Honey Bunches of Oats. There was a time many years ago when I agreed to serve on a one time expert committee for Post Cereals. I don’t do any of this stuff anymore, but it was pretty interesting at the time. We went to their headquarters, it was General Foods at that time, one of the biggest food company’s in the U.S., if not the biggest. This was in White Plains, New York.
So we went to their headquarters, they told us about all the things they were doing and they were eager for us to try a brand new cereal. We had to sign a form that said we wouldn’t tell anybody about this brand new cereal, we wouldn’t go Kellogg’s about this new cereal, and they had people in white coats bring in these bowls with some of the new cereal and they poured milk on them and they wanted us to try it.
Well it turned out to be Honey Bunches of Oats and it was — tasted pretty good. Then they showed us some of the marketing that they were going to do and I think the — as I recall the marketing was — were to prominent comedian type people. Harvey Korman and Tim Conway were going to be marketing this cereal, so we saw that.
Then they — because it was a bunch of nutrition people — I was the only non-certified nutritionist there — but I wondered what was in this cereal and so I started to ask because it looked to me, from my naked naïve eye, that there wasn’t a lot of oats in it. I said, what’s in it, so they — I said well what’s the first ingredient? They said what it was, corn or whatever. I said what’s the second most common ingredient? Well its wheat or rice or something, and I said are we going to get to oats here sometime? Oat was number four, and so the ingredient list is this corn, whole wheat, sugar, and rolled oats, so this is actually oats is the fourth ingredient, not the first.
One could call this more appropriately, Honey Bunches of Sugar, because there’s more sugar in it than there is oats according to the food label. Now I asked them, why do you call it Honey Bunches of Oats? Their response was consumers have told us that they like oats. Well, what’s the morality of that kind of thing?
There’s this interesting thing occurring. I don’t know if any of you have noticed this, but you may remember that in the very first class for those of you who were here. That Burger King ad that I showed you that was, we are man, it was for the Texas Double Whopper, and this is — they’re not the only example of this where this sort of idea that nobody should tell us what to do, we’re men, and we should eat a lot of food.
The Burger King one, I won’t show it to you again today because of time, because most of you probably remember it, but there was a very strong message in here: that no sissies are going to tell us what to do with our eating; we’re going to eat the Texas Double Whopper if we want it; and that’s what men deserve; and we can do whatever we want.
There are lots of other examples of that too. If I can reverse here, this Hungry Man breakfast here that I’ll talk about in a later class is an example of that, and then there is this Taco Bell one that I think is pretty recent that is the Big Bell Box, and if you look up on the left hand corner, packed with all your favorites, it’s the meal that’s made for men. Then notice the low cost only $4.99. Let’s look at the advertisement for this [video].
Eat like a man. Well, how should a man eat? Now let’s do a little nutrient breakdown of this particular meal. We’ll look at fat, sodium, and calories. Here’s the first item that’s in it, the Burrito Supreme, the Crunch Wrap Supreme, the Cinnamon Twist and the Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Here’s the amount of fat and calories, and let’s compare this to what the total — add up the total numbers that you see here, and the daily recommendation.
The government standards say that we should eat no more then 65 grams of fat a day. Here’s how much fat is in that single meal, not for the whole day just that meal, and then calories: 1,980 calories. The recommended total for the day is 2,000. Let’s look at the sodium numbers, now most people don’t know what recommended sodium levels are, but if you add all these things up is 4,210. Daily recommendation is 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, but eat like a man. Then there are some things that are really almost beyond imagining, so here’s a little quiz.
Here are two people whose names you probably wouldn’t recognize, but were in the news at one point. I’d like to see a show of hands about which of these things you think is true. Wanting to cash in as Jared did, they contacted Subway claiming that eating their subs had increased IQ by thirty points in the case of Fisher and landed a modeling contract in the case of Smith; set a world team record for eating Hostess Ding Dongs; were paid to have company logos tattooed on their faces; were married and had twins they named Twinkie and Dorito. How many of you believe (a) is the right answer? How many (b)? How many (c)? How many (d)? Interesting. (C) and (d) take the day. You too, can become an advertisement. Yes.
Professor Kelly Brownell: No, I don’t know how much they were paid. It might have been in the news accounts, but I just don’t remember. Here’s another example of something that really strains the imagination: functioning eight-ounce baby bottles with soft drink company logos on them.
There are new frontiers with marketing, so for example, one is the cell phone. It will soon be the case, because cell phones, most modern ones, have a GPS built into them that when you power up the cell phone there’s a computer somewhere that knows where you are in space. What the plan is is to start beaming people advertisements specific to their location. Tens of millions of kids every afternoon get off school and power up a cell phone. and a computer knows where they are, so how far away are we from your cell phone having something like this? Again, it affects parent’s ability to monitor these things.
The newest frontier of all is neuro-arketing: people doing research using brain imaging and other biological techniques to find out ways to more effectively market products. Does it work? Well common sense says, yes it works, otherwise why would the industry spend money? But you see data like this, the world’s top one-hundred recognized brands and Coca-Cola is number one, McDonald’s number nine on that, so it’s effective. Coca-Cola — Coke is the second most widely recognized word in the world next to okay. Ronald McDonald, and you can see some statistics here, the second most recognized icon in the whole world. It was introduced in 1963, and what little facts some people don’t know is that the first Ronald McDonald was weatherman Willard Scott inside the costume.
There are authoritative reports on food marketing and we can give you the resources for each of these, but we looked at these reports to see how many said that there was not awareness of intent of marketing for kids, that it affected food preferences beliefs, purchase requests and assumptions, and you basically see everything being filled in there. It is known from science now that food marketing has this kind of an impact. It really affects kids, and so in a later class we’ll talk about how all these things come together.
I mean if you add up all the scientific literature and I have to do it in eight seconds, it would be something like this that food marketing appears to be happening in very large amounts in ways that parents don’t have knowledge over control and is having a highly negative impact on kids. What can be done? This is what we’re going to be talking about in the politics class. Before you leave, our guest lecture on Monday, by the way, is an Associate Dean from New York University named Rogan Kersh who’s very good. You’ll enjoy hearing from him.
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