Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Food Advertising

On children and food marketing – note particular point #2:
  • Kids preferred the taste of the cereals with cartoons
  • They preferred boxes labeled “Healthy Bits” more than “Sugar Bits”
  • They most preferred “Healthy Bits” with a cartoon
  • They least preferred “Sugar Bits” without a cartoon
Adachi and Liu (2010) “Estimating Threshold Effects of U.S. Generic Fluid Milk Advertising” AJAE, 92(3) 727-739. They find two interesting thresholds: advertising below a certain level does nothing for sales and above another threshold the marginal effects rapidly decrease. Advertising also makes people’s milk purchases less price sensitive and change more with changes in income.

Cracked explains some of the problems with food advertising that doesn’t mean a thing. Winners include “Real” food, “Fat Free,” “All Natural” and “Less…” (warning: I wouldn’t say the language is strong … it’s on unnecessary steroids)
Some products don't even make it clear what they have less fat than. A York Peppermint Patty claims "As Always... 70% Less Fat!" Cool! I'll cancel my situps! But after searching the bag for actual context, I found that their 70% less fat is 70% less fat than "the average of the leading chocolate candy brands*." No [kidding], York Peppermint Patty. I kind of figured toothpaste had fewer calories than nougat.

Still curious, I searched for the other end of that asterisk and saw, "*3 grams of fat per 41 gram serving vs. 11 grams of fat in the average of the leading chocolate candy brands." I'm not a mathematician, but those leading candy brands are more than 25% pure fat. Do you want a medal for defeating that?

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