Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to Not do a Superbowl Commercial

 Let me very clear, the only reason I watch the Superbowl is for the commercials and the halftime show, not actually to watch the game. Its not that I hate football, I just prefer college football. Anyways, I must say that I was very underwhelmed the halftime show with Katy Perry about to be attacked by dancing sharks…

Only to be saved by none other than Missy Elliott…

After Missy snapped me out of the twilight zone filled with dancing beach balls and surf boards, I was back to reality and more commercials. Out of all of the commercials, I did find one that intrigued me, and by intrigued I mean annoyed...I found one that annoyed me as a Dietitian. (Warning: I am about to step on my soapbox.)  What commercial you ask? That commercial would be this commercial from McDonald's called the Unapologetic Big Mac:

Now, I am no marketing whiz, but I am not sure what McDonald’s was trying to accomplish with this commercial besides shoot themselves in the foot. Yes, I believe that just about everybody and their grandma knows that McDonald’s does not offer the healthiest of foods, despite their feeble attempts at adding salads and apple slices to the menu.

Personally, as both a foodie and a vegetarian, I was slightly offended. Do I eat soy, quinoa, kale, and greek yogurt? Yes I occasionally do, but that doesn’t mean those are the only things I eat and no, I don’t feel cool just because I do eat those things. 

Setting my own personal dietary preferences aside, the reason this bothers me is because how it influences society and our food norms. This commercial feeds into the somewhat negative stereotypes that foodies and vegetarians are weird hipsters that only eat soy, quinoa, kale, etc. They are "health nuts."

We are a country that is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, which costs us somewhere in the ballpark of $192 BILLION a year, and you spend millions to in effect shame those who are trying to eat a little better. Really McDonald's really?!? Is McDonald’s solely to blame for obesity? Was the Superbowl halftime show good? No, but McDonald's can be a part of the solution.

Staying on this soapbox, this commercial also incites some level of food neophobia. Don’t act like you are not impressed with my use of the word neophobia J Anyways, food neophobia is the fear of trying new, unfamiliar foods. In the weird little world that is inside my head, this is how this commercial affects people. After seeing McDonald’s knock kale and quinoa, when people are offered kale and/or quinoa that have never had it before, they laugh and turn it down. I mean, kale and quinoa is obviously only for hippies. 

Now I am going to flip this situation and really just blow your mind. Let’s pretend we all live on a far away planet called, oh I don’t know, Utopia. Now on Utopia, everybody eats kale and quinoa, not many people eat burgers. One day a food company, McKale, advertises how great its kale and quinoa is, and bashes burgers and people who are burger eaters. People who eats kale and quinoa, would feel more justified and better about their food choices than those weird burger eaters. Burgers are definitely for weirdos.

So what is your point Beth?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that McDonald’s should start serving kale and quinoa, they are after all a burger joint. However, I don’t think they should stigmatize people who are trying to eat healthier. As a billion dollar company, they have the means to positively affect our dietary habits and food norms. We need to make eating healthy the cool, sexy thing to do, which we can do through advertising and marketing. I mean kale anyone?

Can I personally change McDonald’s or any other fast food place? Nope, but what I can do is “vote” with where I choose to spend my money when eating out. Not that I eat a ton of fast food, but when I do, I will gladly pay a little more for a better quality product and for a company whose practices I agree with. (Steps off soapbox)

Well I am off to start a petition to bring Beyonce back for next year’s Superbowl halftime…I mean home girl broke the Superdome and I bet that Beyonce eats kale. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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