Advertising, Food and What We Eat

There are countless advertisements on television, in magazines or on the radio that encourage people to eat a certain food, try a new restaurant or follow a new diet. The experience of dining and eating is more than a way to keep the body fueled and in motion, but is also a way to socialize, celebrate and otherwise make connections with others, just by picking up a fork. Advertising food, grocery stores, restaurants and political or industrial, nutritional organizations is a huge business that can influence people from a very young age. Thanks to the work of educated advertisers, children can recognize the logo of fast food restaurants as easily as they recognize shapes and letters, and the impact of advertising to this demographic can have a life-long health and wellness impact.

When Cookie Monster began eating fruit over cookies, parents began to take more notice of what types of foods were being advertised to children. With concerns over childhood obesity growing, parents turned to the advertising industry as a large scapegoat for their own food choices and what was being offered to children in kitchens across the country. The number of these ads certainly overshadows the push for vegetables and healthy cooking, but advertisers and food-related corporations are taking notice and beginning to not only offer healthier choices in restaurants but also steer ads toward the aspect of “choice” when it comes to eating.

The old story of the woman who sued McDonald's over a cup of coffee, and won, is not a story that promotes truth in advertising. Most people assume coffee will be hot, unless it is “frozen,” or “iced,” but a lawsuit entailed that had little to do with the advertising and more to do with actual policies of McDonald's and the responsibility of the customer. That is not the only lawsuit that has made news in light of advertising and its claims, or assumptions, that a customer will exercise common sense, as will a company. The company that makes Nutella is currently being sued for its claims of a healthier breakfast treat. The company may not actually be stating that their product is, indeed, healthy, but that it can disguise the taste, texture and overall aversion to healthier choices, like whole-grain bread. Advertising food, while a lucrative industry, certainly has its down side.

New and different methods of imparting a food product to the public will always evolve as technology, taste and trends emerge through the years. For the advertiser who takes responsibility for their product, healthy or not, and understands the busy lifestyles of people who may not have time to dissect nutrition labels or exercise caution in other methods of ingesting food, the industry can provide a creative and fun outlet that helps shape the lives of people for years to come.

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