Tag Archive | food marketing

spring cleaning and the NBA Finals

I recently decided to revisit some of my old posts, brush them off and bring them out for some fresh air–a kind of spring cleaning. I found a few that I have now fluffed up or polished, but this one is screaming for immediate attention.

As I write, I am sitting and watching Game 5 of the NBA finals–Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors. The postseason with the advance of Cleveland and LeBron James has necessitated this postscript to “dominique et moi”. There, I wrote about my meeting with NBA legend and diabetes ambassador Dominique Wilkins on his visit to the health center where I worked. (Yes, really! Did you miss that one?)Curry Powder in India, Chronic Kidney Disease

In that meeting, I asked Dominique how he felt about famous athletes using their celebrity to market unhealthy products–making reference to LeBron’s Pepsi ads which were running at that time. Though not to single out LeBron, I do find certain celebrity endorsements particularly troubling. During this year’s final rounds, LeBron has been featured in an ad for Kia automobiles. The spot starts out with him sitting alone in his kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal with a box of Fruity Pebbles prominently displayed. The milk is in a plain, round, unmarked glass bottle. Just as he raises the spoon to his mouth, his zen moment is interrupted by a maintenance worker outside the window wielding a noisy leaf blower. LeBron leaves the table, miffed that his quiet moment has been disturbed–but not before five camera shots feature the Fruity Pebbles. A few more distractions pursue him until he finally finds solace in the quiet, obviously roomy and reclining back seat of his Kia.

I have been catching up on recent seasons of Mad Men so I know how these pitches are made by ad companies. But, please can someone please tell me what marketing seduction was intended here? Does Kia own Post Foods or are they just sleeping together?  What demographic is eating kids’ cereals and buying fancy-ish cars–long legged adolescents saving their lawn mowing money? And, why is LeBron party to it all?

Ironically, recently as I watched LeBron on the court, I noticed he seemed more lean and lithe than I remembered. I turned to Pete, my source for all things sport and nutrition related. Concerned he may have missed something, I implored him to get me some scoop on LeBron’s diet. Thirty seconds later he was back to me with a report that sure enough, this incredible sport’s phenomenon was adhering to a lower carbohydrate diet and was playing minus fifteen to twenty pounds this season. I was not surprised. I knew it! No Fruity Pebbles for King James. And, I am also going to venture that he’s likely lactose intolerant and not much of a milk drinker.

Well, I do hope that these athletes heed some warning from Dominique. Not even the creme de la creme are immune from negative dietary impacts and diabetic consequences. Well, except maybe LeBron–because the way he plays, he likely is immortal. And, they should be mindful of the messages they embody through their endorsements. But, hey, what food is that his nemesis is hawking on his jersey? Curry? You mean that the anti-inflammatory spice blend that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and that contributes to some spectacular shooting?  I wonder who is marketing that.

For a look at what LeBron is really fueling on, and what he actually drives, see here.

For a look at what Steph Curry is doing to promote healthy eating, see here.

For a look at a 4-time NBA Champion’s thoughts on nutrition, see here.

In health, Elyn

OH, DEAR ME. After writing this whole thing, I went to look up the ingredients of Fruity Pebbles for a link, only to find out that Fruity Pebbles is also a LeBron James endorsed Nike Air Foamposite One sneaker!! Wow. Your thoughts?

photo (2)dominique et moi

November was Diabetes Awareness month. Or, so I am told. For me, every month is diabetes month and every day is diabetes day, as nary an hour goes by without my sharing sacred space with someone who has diabetes. Sometimes this is the shell-shocked newly diagnosed, other times, it is the weary veteran of the disease. Read more.

Advertisements

brought to tears

I actually found it in a garbage can at the health department where I now work. I’d been trying to get my little fingers on one of these for a while, so I was not totally put off by its lowly circumstances. It really should have been in the recycling bin at least, but there it lay, abandoned, thankfully right on top. I gingerly lifted it from its resting place of refuse and walked it right over to a nearby sink.sunset-288531_1280

I unscrewed the cap which I was about to discard until I noticed that it too was an artifact of interest to me– but that was secondary to the bottle, at least for starters. The bottle was still half full or half empty, so my next quasi-distasteful act was to pour the hazardous saliva-mixed remains down the drain despite my uncertainty regarding proper disposal procedures for what might be considered a toxic substance.

A few months back I had become aware of some new Coca-Cola campaign entitled Share A Coke. Cans and bottles of the ubiquitous beverage now have one of about 250 first names, like Debbie, along with other emotionally tinged monikers like Bestie, Grillmaster, Wingman, Mom and Dad prominently displayed on the label under the directive to Share a Coke with the dearly imprinted. Just hearing about this manipulation of the human psyche triggered my shivers down the spinal reflex. But, when I began to see the bottles for sale in my local convenience store and in the cafeteria in my office building it was downright spooky. But, here I was now, up close and personal with one.

Things must have been getting pretty bad over there at Coca-Cola. Previous promises of perpetual happiness associated with imbibing the sugar-laden, highly acidic, caffeine-laced, teeth-rotting, gut-deteriorating, illness-promoting fizzy elixir must have begun to go flat. Were sales lagging? Was the logo no longer recognizable the world over? What else could have initiated a marketing blitz that reeks of malevolence as it strives to ensnare our fragile egos and enslave our purchasing behaviors?

I remember being excited when those little mini license plates with names on them that you could attach to your bike seat first came out. But, I also recall the immediate chagrin when you could not find your own name hanging from the metal display rack. Suddenly you felt second-rate, not worthy of a plate. I am not certain of all of the psychological underpinnings that are attached to this probably billion dollar campaign, but I am sure they are many. Does seeing our name emblazoned in such a public way make us feel validated, loved, powerful and more connected in this alienated world?

I don’t really get the campaign. I am sure, most of the time, you have to buy a bottle with someone else’s name on it. How much can you bother to search for a bottle that idolizes yourself or a loved one? Must you settle for John when you are really seeking Mario? And then, what if you don’t have a person to share it with? That is probably what happened to my bottle, Nicole. Half finished and tossed aside, unshared and hopes dashed. Even the reward points offered on the cap were left unclaimed and discarded. Reward points? Really?

I don’t want to go any further on this except to say that this unbridled assault on our health through such methods of aggressive advertising can and does bring me to tears. I’ve written about this before. One does not have to look too hard to see the real rewards of such consumption, but you have to care to be looking and looking to care. I am too verklempt even thinking about needing to reiterate the effects of these substances anymore. Originally, the reason I wanted to get a bottle without purchase was to be able to include it as a photo for this post–but now I don’t even wish to give it any publicity or visibility. We are clearly easy targets for seduction even when clearly it is not in our best interest. So, Nicole will now go directly into my recycling bin and I am posting instead a beautiful photo of a sunset. My only hope is that an unexpected outcome of the campaign will be that with all that sharing of cans and bottles, per capita consumption will actually shrink by at least half.

Anyway, while there are sad tears there are also happy ones. I specialize in both. Recently, while also at work–it may have even been the same day that I retrieved the Coke bottle, I received an email from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It included a video that spotlighted healthy and healing practices being undertaken at the West Side High School for at-risk students in New York City through a powerful investment in a gardening program, real food, and intensive physical activity– by a dedicated and devoted principal and staff.

Thirty-six seconds in and there I was bawling (yes) in my little, oh not so private cubicle. In my last post, I wrote about my reservations about the bulk of nutrition and health activities being directed at obesity prevention efforts whereas I believe the implications and consequences of our cultural dietary and health insults are so much greater. I did not get much response on that so I would still be interested in hearing your thoughts. But, in this video, simply and beautifully, a young woman named Tenia expresses why eating proper foods is important for both emotional and physical well-being–aside from weight-based associations.

This glimpse of transformation that occurs when the birthright of health is granted, when it is given priority and nurtured, and not compromised by those so willing to sacrifice our young in endless pursuit of profit is worth viewing. I highly recommend it. Here is the link. Note, don’t forget the tissues.

Just a mention that my own recent favorite brew has been matcha, a fine green tea powder. I enjoy it as a tea or mixed in smoothies. It is fuller or richer than regular green tea and it gently provides a touch of focus and energy. I was initiated with a gift of a package of Matcha from Kiss Me Organics that was exceptionally pleasant and which has become a welcomed part of my day and my diet. There are many benefits of matcha to explore and it can be incorporated into many recipes. Give it a peek.

Na area da saude, Elyn

Related Posts: Private Health, So-Duh

Nirinjan's Plate

Nirinjan’s Plate

My Plate Haiku

It is easier

To reprimand the sinner

Than change the system.  by Julie

Magic Doughnuts–The Nutritionist’s Nemesis

A photo of 12 Original Glazed doughnuts from K...

Image via Wikipedia

It is time to raise my rates. The stakes are higher, the work is harder–Krispy Kreme is coming to town.

Looking back I can see that the signs were there, the portents. A few weeks ago, the lab technicians in the medical office where I work, hid a photo behind a cabinet door. The photo portrayed four very naked women standing in chorus line formation, clad only in sashes emblazoned with the words Krispy Kreme Donuts. The jolly foursome cumulatively weighed about twelve hundred pounds. The lab techs led me to their surreptitious closet and awaited my reaction. Oh, did we guffaw. But then I went back to my desk and stared out the window, contemplating the meaning of my life as a nutritionist.

It was only a matter of time then until my husband, aware of my prurient interest in all things fatty and sugary, sidled up next to me on the couch to announce the upcoming opening of the area’s first Krispy Kreme franchise.

I shouldn’t panic yet. The new store is to be located a good twenty miles from where I practice. Certainly, none of my client base would be able to procure any of these scrumptuous confections. But, what was that? Local gas stations will also be carrying them? The story got worse. As my husband read to me from the article in the business section of the newspaper, the words and images were almost surreal.

According to the article, a “typical Krispy Kreme store opening will draw hundreds of customers who will wait several hours to buy hot doughnuts. In South Bend, Indiana, a customer camped outside of the store for seventeen days awaiting a store’s opening.” The statistics are baffling. Get this. Weekly sales for a Krispy Kreme franchise average about $58,000. This is up from $28,000 a mere four years ago. North American Krispy Kreme stores produce five million doughnuts daily. Daily! The little devils are even making their way into wedding receptions. Probably as invited guests-dear friends of the family.

Apparently, business experts credit this boom to “one of the most effective marketing strategies in the history of the restaurant industry.” However, “both franchisers and company officials say the enthusiasm is the result of the quality of their product-it has such a magical quality about it.” Was it the same combination of commerce and magic that had enticed four very large women to stand in their own doughy glory singing the praises of Krispy Kreme?

I could stand no more. I have been rather accustomed to waging a pathetic fight against the big guys and their Madison Avenue associates, but now they were playing with magic and using stainless steel cauldrons. I have not a chance. In the match-up between the company’s ‘Hot Original Glazed’ and me, I have as much pull as a stale biscuit. As if they knew I’d be reading this, they threw one more punch–right to the gut. In response to concerns about the low-carbohydrate trend, a company official is quoted in the article as saying; “even people trying to avoid sugary baked goods will make an exception for a Krispy Kreme.”

The following day I headed back to my office. I dreamed that there would be lines of devotees waiting to see me. That people would now realize that they were being seduced by an evil pudgy ball of dough, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and would come in droves seeking my aid to protect them. I would be Super Nutritionist.  But no one was there. Disheartened, I settled into my desk. I might just as well tell my clients to take two doughnuts and call me in the morning.

I guess I should just be patient. Eventually, the hoopla will have to die down and the magic will have to fade. The masses, those mere mortals, will be sorry then. Even the company officials and franchisers will have had one Krispy Kreme too many, and they will regret it. That is when they will come knocking on my door (or pulling up to my drive-thru window.) But, I don’t have any magic spells to undo the ravages of that enchanted edible. They will just have to work harder to lose that big doughnut they are now carrying around their middles and I will charge them more to do so, for I will have already raised my rates. I may even become the national spokesperson for Hole H.O.G. (Hot Original Glaze) – a doughnut victim compensation program. Well, we’ll see. They haven’t opened yet.

*Source-Sweet Smell of Success, Jeremy Boyer, Albany Times Union, Nov. 30, 2003