I have to start by saying: I have friends and relatives that work in marketing. Not everyone that works in marketing is a lying scumbag, but some are. To start with, the goal of marketing is to get you to use or buy their product rather than another product or nothing at all. I’m not really a fan of anyone who is trying to convince me or my children to buy something that I don’t actually need.
I ask each and every person that works in marketing to take some time to reflect on their values and morals. Are you concerned about climate change? Do you care that rainforests in the Amazon, Indonesia and Malaysia are being destroyed to bring us shelf stable products and yummy store-bought food from companies like PepsiCo? The damage they are doing is so significant that on May 20, 2014 there is a world-wide day of action to raise PepsiCo’s awareness to the devastation they are causing called #InYourPalm. Do you care that people jaunting around on airplanes are directly increasing the effects of climate change? Marketing convinces people to buy food products that they don’t need and that aren’t good for them and to behave in ways that isn’t good for our environment.
Marketing has convinced almost every American that they must absolutely put chemicals on their clothes every time they wash them in the form of fabric softeners. For years the ad agencies working on Bounce have done their very best to convince us that we need their special scents on our sheets and clothing. Today the latest craze is “Outdoor scent”. Why don’t you just go outdoors? We don’t use fabric sheets, we put vinegar in the fabric softener space in our washing machine and voila, no static cling (because yes, static cling is annoying). Also, our clothing has the natural scent of nothing!
What about the marketing campaigns that actually just outright lie? Kellogg’s is being required to drop the terms “All Natural” and “100% Natural” from some of the products in their Kashi and Bear Naked product lines. Why? Because they are NOT all natural! If you’re a careful label reader you may have seen that they include ingredients like “pyridoxine hydrochloride,” “calcium pantothenate,” and “hexane-processed soy oil.” I didn’t.
What bothered me most about the case against Kellogg’s is the statement from the company spokeswoman Kris Charles. According to Reuters:
“We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices,” she said. “We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality and nutrition standards, while delivering the great taste people expect.”
I object to “delivering the great taste people expect.” We have been trained to expect these flavors because this is what mega-companies produce. If we want 100% natural products, perhaps we are willing to accept flavor changes in the interest of our health. I know that natural products taste differently from processed, chemical-laden food, but guess what? Some people prefer that! By the way, “evaporated cane juice crystals” is another way of saying “sugar”.
I’m sincerely concerned about the chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and GMOs that have been contaminating our foods over the past 60 years. I am genuinely concerned that they are directly contributing to the rise in illnesses, diseases and genetic conditions that we have been seeing over the past 60 years. Is there proof? Scientists are working on that. (Here is a scientific paper looking at the correlation.) But I am not willing to gamble the health of my children and myself while we wait for scientific proof to conclusively determine whether or not these things are hurting us. I am a VERY busy working mom, and I need to be able to depend on store-bought food. I HAVE to rely on the big labels to tell me if I am buying what I think I am buying. I envy the moms that have time to buy everything as basic ingredients and cook from scratch, that is just not going to happen any time soon in our home. Therefore, when I find out that a company that MARKETS food products to people who are trying to eat all natural, chemical-free food, and they LIE, preying on MY VALUES, I am very UPSET!
Kellogg’s is going to change the labeling on Kashi and Bear Naked products, but I’m not going to buy them anymore, at all. I hope that their marketing staff take a good, long hard look at their values and the worth of what they are doing. If you are in marketing, and you truly love what you do, I challenge you to find a product or cause that is worth using your skills and ability to promote. I could direct you to hundreds of non-profits and quality companies that the world would be better for knowing about.
Click here to sign the petition to the “Snack Food 20” asking them to source their palm oil without clear cutting rainforests.
Click here for a Sierra Club petition asking Kellog’s to take GMOs out of all of their products.
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