Posted by: Hil | January 10, 2009

Food Ad Watch: New Year’s Nonsense

It is time for a new edition of Food Ad Watch, inspired by all of the ridiculous commercials that are attempting to capitalize on the myth that everyone has magically become HUGE over the holidays and must immediately go on a diet to remedy the situation.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m all for a return to healthy eating after the holidays.  And I certainly don’t object to an individual person resolving to lose weight in the coming year if that is what is healthy and right for him or her.  What I object to is this fear-mongering, mocking, overly-dramatic tone that the media seems to be adopting regarding holiday weight gain.  The message seems to be that everyone who ate cookies and candy canes and drank cocoa or champagne (i.e. all of us) should be mocked for their lack of self-control and must suffer through a new diet and grueling exercise regimen to atone for their excess.

I object to people using fear to sell their products.  I particularly object to people preying on people’s ambivalence toward food and weight. 

There are a lot of these commercials, so I’m just going to highlight a representative sample.  I really wanted to tear into a Subway commercial I saw the other day, which featured people literally exploding out of their clothes, with buttons flying and chairs collapsing everywhere, but I couldn’t find a copy of it on YouTube.   (If anyone gets a hold of it, let me know and I’ll put it up on this post.)  So a runner up, we will go with this Special K commercial, which is somewhat less melodramatic, but still serves to illustrate my point.

Let’s recap shall we?  This commercial opens with a rather sweet shot of a little girl and her mother playing in the snow together.  The moment is ruined when the little girl comments that her mother and the snowman are twins.  At this point in the ad, the Lemonator and I still didn’t know what was going on.  We both thought it might be some kind of clothing commercial along the lines of “get yourself a cute new coat on clearance.”  Alas, no such luck.

No, the point of the ad is that Mommy has put on a few pounds over the holidays.  She has been enjoying holiday treats.  The horror!  I confess that I fail to see how we are supposed to ascertain anything one way or the other about this woman’s figure when she is clad in a puffy, oversize winter coat that would make anyone look like a marshmallow, but apparently we are supposed to be deeply embarrassed on her behalf.  In the Special K world, if you resemble a snowman when you put on an oversized, puffy white coat and matching accessories, it’s time for a diet challenge. 

So what does this woman do to get back on track?  She stops playing in the snow, takes her daughter inside, sits down, and eats a bowl of cereal in the middle of the afternoon.  Huh?!  Regardless, the woman is revealed to be quite slim once she is clad in a formfitting sweater rather than a gigantic, puffy coat, so our commercial has its requisite happy ending.

This stuff makes no sense.  I hope you will all join me in rejecting this nonsense and eating whatever will make you feel happy and healthy in the upcoming weeks.  And if you find any other commercials that deserve to be praised or mocked, let me know!



  1. ~sigh~ it’s no wonder we have issues…

  2. As you know, I am over the New Year’s weightloss.

    Oh and once a little kindergartner at school asked me if I had a belly in my tummy. I immediately went home and ate nasty special k waffles with nasty fake sugar syrup.

    I will be on the lookout for more eye rolling ads for ya.

  3. Ugh, it’s not like she is an unhealthy weight either.

  4. It’s just like the Special K one last year where the girl called her mom “Santa!” from behind when she was wearing a red bathrobe. The mom is, of course, always thin to begin with. I wonder what they’ll come up with next year…

  5. ugh i am SO with you!! i saw the santa commercial that betsy mentioned and i was like OMG are u kidding me???

  6. HATE these Special K commercials. I saw the Santa one but haven’t seen this one. It’s terrible.

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