The PR and marketing strategies of the junk food and drink industries bring a whole new level of meaning to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.
If you were writing a farce, it would be hard to top these:
• McDonald’s, that well known friend of children’s health and wellbeing, plans to give away 15 million books in the UK with its “Happy Meals”. Or as The Guardian puts it : “A little portion of literacy is set to be served up alongside the cheeseburgers and fries.”
• Where else but in the US would you find something so absurd as the “Candwich”, a sandwich in a can? Not only that, the manufacturer, based in Salt Lake City, has seized on concerns about natural disasters as a marketing opportunity: “With an extended shelf-life, CandwichTM is ideal for emergency food storage needs in the event of a natural disaster. CandwichTM tastes great, and because of the specially formulated healthy recipe, the bread stays as soft and sweet after one-year in storage as it did the day it was made (If you can ever keep them around that long).”
• Also in the US, public health lawyer Michele Simon has documented the close ties between nutrition professionals and junk food and drink companies in an investigative report released this week, Now a Word from our Sponsors. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics lists Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, and PepsiCo among its approved continuing education providers, for example.
• And then of course there’s the latest attempt by Coca-Cola to sell itself as part of the solution to obesity, as previously reported here, and as described by Mark Bittman at the New York Times as “sheer manipulation, calculated to confuse, obscure and deny.” To which one might add “shameless”.
And now for some actual farce.
This is billed as The Honest Coca-Cola Obesity Commercial, uploaded by the late “John Pemberton”, who invented the stuff way back when.
And this clip, The Real Bears, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “tells the story of a family of polar bears who, even in their distant Arctic environment, are not immune from sunny marketing messages from Big Soda….”
Back in the real world, the Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and the National Heart Foundation recently launched the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign, whose goals include restricting kids’ exposure to sugary drinks marketing, reducing availability of these drinks in workplaces, healthcare settings and other public areas such as sporting grounds, and using taxation options to increase the price and reduce consumption. See the clip.
And more from the public health files marked Truth is Stranger than Fiction: 5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day.