If you advertise it, I will eat it

Posted on August 19, 2008

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File this under, "poorly placed blame."  Recently, a BusinessWeek story about junk food marketing caught my eye.  In summary, there are a lot of people up in arms about how food and beverage companies that make unhealthy things (like Lucky Charms or Coke) market those foods to kids.  It's been said that those ads and marketing campaigns are fueling the obesity epidemic. 

Where to start with my rebuttal?   It may be sufficient to say that this is all just ridiculous and that I think the government has better things to do with their time than regulating KRAFT.   We're talking about children under the age of 12 here.  Raise your hand if you believe those kids are at the store on their own buying Lucky Charms with their allowance because they say a leprechaun in a commercial.  I didn't think so.  It's clear where this is going…

Let me qualify myself for this argument by saying I'm a proud aunt to 9 children under the age of 12.  That's 9 kids to 3 sets of parents, some that allow Lucky Charms and others that don't.  I see no unhealthy obsessions with leprechauns in any family, nor do I see any obese children.  Why?  Because whether or not they're allowed to eat sugary cereals and drink soda, to these kids a commerical is just a cartoon.

So, while you probably thought I was going to blame parents (no way, my brothers and sisters are bigger than me and I've learned not to pick fights ;)), what I'm really blaming is our society's collective unhealthy relationship with food and our quickness in placing blame on the wrong party.  Instead of wasting our time getting the government to regulate McDonald's billboards, we should be encouraging our children to resist the power of the "I WANTS" that advertising invokes.  Because you know what?  When those kids turn 12, they'll suddenly be on their own, with no one to regulate what appears on their favorite shows and Web sites. 

After 12, all bets are off – the same kids who couldn't resist Lucky and his charms are well on their way to being advertisers' most coveted demographic for years to come.  They'll be tweens, teens, college students… then young professionals and eventually parents themselves.

Do you have kids?  What do you think?

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