The Power of Advertising?

With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Some people could sell snow to Eskimos and they are dearly loved by the advertising industry who, mercilessly exploiting their abilities, make sure that we crave things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Just do itIf I say “Just Do It”, what pops into your mind? A pair of Nike trainers by an chance? If yes then that’s the power of advertising and exactly why Nike make billions of dollars every year. Their trainers are great, I wear them, you wear them, hell everybody wears them; there are other brands out there but it’s just not the same is it? The slogan “Just Do It” is somehow inspirational; it’s almost telling you ‘You CAN do it; don’t be afraid, wear our trainers and you will get where you wan’t to be’. You WANT to get out there and exercise so you end up looking like the person in the ad. Amazing right?

McDonalds HealthyWell, yes and no. I’m just as much a sucker as the next person; if a new beauty product is launched and lauded with the promise that it will fight all the crap that’s been giving me wrinkles I’ll try it! Of course, deep down, I know that no such miracle exists but the only thing it’s cost me is cash (quite a lot of it in some cases but hey ho). However, when those marketing geniuses are snapped up by companies whose sole purpose is to sell junk food to an unsuspecting public it’s a different thing entirely. The sole purpose of advertising and marketing is to convince people to buy a product and, one of the best ways of doing it is to tell people what they want to hear. Unless people have been living in a cave for the last 10 years, they’ll know that fast food, eaten in quantity, is not healthy so what do the advertisers do? They word their ads in such a way that the customer thinks that they are getting a healthier version of the food that they want to eat but know if bad for them. The companies continue to sell their products and the consumers get to appease their guilty conscience, despite all the evidence that that their food choices are making them fat and unhealthy but, let’s face it, McDonalds and their ilk wouldn’t shift many burgers if their slogan was “Want to get Type 2 diabetes?  We’re lovin’ it”

If the marketing campaigns are targeted at adults, that’s one thing but, when they’re targeted at kids I do wonder if it’s entirely ethical. I would think that most parents find it pretty difficult to say no to their children and when they’re complaining of being hungry and a cheap meal with a free toy (!) is on offer just across the road what are they going to do? Yes, in an ideal world all parents would be aware of the dangers of consuming too much junk food and say no to the tears and the foot stamping but, also in an ideal world, advertisers would have a few scruples.

I don’t like the idea of banning anything really as I believe that we are all free to make our own choices in life but I am beginning to question whether Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is right in his calls to curb the junk food adverts that are targeted specifically at kids – what do you think?

Food. Unhealthy food
Join Millions of others on their journey towards heart disease and diabetes. You’ll never be alone with Junk Food!

In Pursuit of Beauty?

…beauty is in the eye of the media

It would seem these days that beauty is in the eye of the media; there are millions of images on the TV, in magazines, on the internet etc. all telling us what we should or shouldn’t look like. Unfortunately, as with all things, the media is not exactly consistent.

How many times do we see pictures like these? ‘So and so celebrity has really piled on the pounds!’ Then the next day ‘so and so celebrity is too skinny’; ironically it’s often the same celebrity who was lambasted for being overweight 6 months previously.

If you type ‘celebrities who’ve let themselves go’ into google it will bring up hundreds of people who have simply got older or lost/gained a little weight. So celebrities are human huh? Shocker! (This comes with rolling eyes and a slight feeling of exasperation).

The question is where does this leave the rest of us mere mortals? Well, we now have young people who become anorexic or bulimic because their onscreen role models are a size 6. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not said idol is happy being that size or whether their job (and the media) demands that they are slim and actually they’d really like to be able to have a dessert occasionally. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not they will be healthy as a size 6; if you’re naturally slim it’s one thing, if you’re naturally a size 14 and shrink yourself down to a size 6 is another thing altogether. They also don’t consider the fact that many stars have personal trainers and spend hours in the gym with them every day; to lose weight without exercise will mean a big and potentially dangerous reduction in calories.

On the flip side we now also have Fat Acceptance (or Body Acceptance) which is essentially people who are overweight, and know that they’re overweight, fighting back against Fat Shaming. fat shaming 2(This is the charming past-time of being unpleasant to people considered fat by ‘shamers’ on social media.) There is even a Fat Activist movement which addresses the issue of, what they see as, society’s ‘bias’ against obese people.

This means that, on the one hand we have young people desperate to be skinny and, on the other, we have those who are obese calling for fat-shaming to be considered a hate crime. It’s well known that both anorexia and obesity come with massive health risks and yet both are on the increase.

Part of the obesity problem can certainly be attributed to the fast and convenience food that has become a staple for many people. Sugar is believed to be more addictive than cocaine and yet these type of food are absolutely packed full of it. However, another part of the problem is our attitudes to ourselves and our bodies and the fact that open and honest discussions are few and far between. The Government is seen as ‘the Nanny State’ if it advises people on the health risks of obesity and anorexia, schools no longer teach classes on cookery and nutrition, children are happier in front of a computer screen rather than being outside running around and the internet provides a safe haven for advocates of over-eating and starvation and the bullies that follow them. If we could all see the damage that’s being done to our insides maybe we’d be less concerned with how we look on the outside……….

 

Are Those Real?

I bet your mouth is watering just thinking about them isn’t it?

Do you remember when we used to have to think about what to cook for dinner every night and give ourselves about an hour to get everything prepared and cooked but now we can just grab a box from the fridge, chuck it in the microwave and taddah!! It’s ready just like that. We don’t even have to worry about doing the washing up these days as there’s a machine that will do it for us. We really are lucky aren’t we!

Do you also remember the taste of the first strawberries or tomatoes of the season? They were so unbelievably sweet and full of flavour; I bet your mouth is watering just thinking about them isn’t it? Of course now, if we want them, we don’t have to wait until June every year, we can have strawberries and tomatoes pretty much any time but they don’t taste quite the same do they?……….

Of course, in order to get fresh strawberries and tomatoes all year round they either have to be packed up in a country where it is actually warm enough to grow them naturally and then kept cold until they arrive on the shelves of our local supermarket or the plants have to be tricked into think that it’s actually summer here.

Unfortunately no-one has yet figured out how to persuade Mother Nature that it’s summer when it isn’t so producers use special artificial lighting instead. It’s not a natural process so you can’t expect the taste to be the same as it would be had the fruit been grown naturally but it does mean you can have strawberries in January if you want them

Come to think of it, we are actually mucking about with quite a lot of the food that arrives on our plates and we are getting used to it too. Think about the last time you went on holiday to another country and you ate the local food, fresh food, how flavourful was it? Did your taste buds seem to wake up and have a little party? You can have that wonderful experience at home but most of us choose not to because life is easier that way and scientists are seeing to it that our lives will become easier and easier..

The World Health Organisation defines genetically modified foods as “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination”.

This means that we don’t really trust Mother Nature to do the best for us, we think that we know better, or at least we think we can do it cheaper! Scientists say that GM foods are perfectly safe and maybe they are; the companies that use additives in processed foods and the manufacturers of fast food probably all say exactly the same but, here’s a thing, obesity is now a massive problem in the USA and parts of Europe and incidences of cancer are steadily on the rise.

In the 21st century we have more convenience and more comfort than we have ever had before throughout the whole of history but it’s making us lazy in ways that are beginning to damage our health. Rather than walk, we drive so we exercise less and get less fresh air.

Rather than prepare and cook, we eat microwaved dinners and fast foods. Rather than spend more of our money on food and less on gadgets of one kind or another, we buy cheap packet food instead of fresh. Unfortunately this is becoming a way of life and the numbers of us who can remember the days of fresh wholesome food straight from the farm, the butcher or the greengrocer are getting less and less. Maybe one day all we’ll need to eat is a little blue pill and we’ll accept without question that it will give us all the goodness and nutrients that our bodies need.

Which would you prefer? Eating fresh natural food is a conscious decision and we all have freedom of choice but think back: if you ever went strawberry picking as a child and ate more than you boxed, you’ll know what I mean…