Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grotesque and Gluttoness Gastro-Alchemy

Last week I posted a link to a site called This is Why You're Fat, a celebration of grotesque and gluttoness gastro-alchemy. The site features culinary submissions like "The Flapjack Fiasco" (layers from bottom to top: pancake; cookie dough; pancake; peanut butter and jelly; pancake; chocolate and bananas; pancake; caramel, oreo, marshmallow, sprinkles, M&M’s; pancake; caramel buttercream frosting granished with Trix cereal.)

It seems that there a few food advertisers that, in an effort to drive increased consumption of their products, are dusting off that age-old tactic of supplying recipes and preparation tips. It makes perfect sense for Campbell's to offer up a casserole recipe on the back of a can of cream of mushroom soup but suggesting novel ways to consume Pop-Tarts and Eggo Waffles seems off category. I always thought these products sold themselves and if anything, required effort and strategies to prevent over consumption. These are food products specifically designed for immediate, no-fuss consumption. For many consumers heating Pop-Tarts or bothering to spread anything on their Eggos is a needless expense of effort and time consuming, frilly fussiness.

Do children really need to be encouraged to crumble warmed Pop-Tarts over ice cream or to make a "sandwich" by spreading yogurt between 2 heated Pop-Tarts? This print ad, titled "Made for Summer" does exactly that. And more. What happened to concerns over childhood obesity and the new stricter guidelines for marking to children.

The new TV spots and the website for Eggos are a srubbed for mass consumption version of "This is Why You're Fat". The creations are more restrained, the photography better and instead of over-the-top titles the novel Eggo creations are presented as the personal expressions of child creators. Megan's Master Splatterpiece is "splattered with as many kinds of jam and syrup" as she can find.

This is the dietary equivalent of mixing dopamine-jacking drugs and sex. Once people bring ecstasy, meth or coke into the bedroom there's almost no going back. Missionary at the tail-end of a blockbuster night just doesn't stimulate arousal anymore. Do you really want to start an arms race of dietary overstimulation? No one wins in this war, least of all our children.

1 comment:

kathleen said...

And there's the reason the kid only watches PBS and Qubo. Qubo has commercials, but they're the late-night variety, which tends to add hilarity and not calories to our day. Periodically I'll hear Rowan holler out "Cash 4 Gold!" or "Bend-a-roos!" Pretty innocuous stuff, for now.

My in-laws thought I was out of my mind for not allowing Rowan to have cake, candy, or sweets until his second birthday, but to this day, you put a plate of blueberries and a cookie in front of him, he'll eat every last blueberry before touching the cookie. He's not a huge bread eater, but when he eats, he'll eat multigrain because that's all we've ever fed him. At grandma's, he leaves the white bread on the plate.

I'll build a tobacco company site before working on a children's site hosted by a commercial entity. HP's game sites for kids are purposefully designed to encourage children to use up printer ink, and you've just shown what food companies use their kids sites for.

But you're an advertising guy - it's only ever been about consumption.