We think multi-disciplinary approaches to health and wellness are key, and were glad to see the issue of Big Food advertising to children raised in this May 2013 Psychology Today article by Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, of the is Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.
The issue of concern? “Coca-Cola has donated $2.6 million to provide recycling bins for every house and small apartment building in Chicago, in return for images of Coke products on the bins. A win-win for Coca-Cola and Chicago’s short-term budget, but at what cost to Chicago’s children?”
In a way, this sort of advertising — also known as “causewashing” — is a new frontier for industry.
As Dr. Harris points out:
“The negative effects of TV advertising for high-sugar products with little or no nutritional value have been well documented. It is much more difficult for researchers to measure and assess the effects of non-traditional forms marketing, such as logo placement sponsorships, product placements in TV and other media, internet and mobile marketing, and social media. However, psychological models of persuasion, such as the Knowledge Persuasion Model and the Food Marketing Defense Model, predict that these subtle forms of marketing can be highly effective.”
More disturbingly, this type of covert advertising is condoned and encouraged:
“[Coca-Cola] was selected by Advertising Age as “Marketer of the Year” in 2011 for its use of “creative stunts and strategic partnerships to get a lot done on a smaller budget.” Mayor Emanuel of Chicago apparently doesn’t see the issue – he believes in “personal responsibility.” But what about corporations’ responsibility to refrain from unfairly targeting teenagers with disguised and unfair marketing messages for products that put their health at risk?”