Tagged: advertising

Self-righteous foodies make mockery of actual poverty. News at 6.

I’ve got a real thing about “live below the line” challenges.  The key point is that taking a week out of your “normal” life to “experience poverty” can never even come close to the grinding, wearying shittiness of poverty.  And plenty of things are manageable when you know there’s a finish line.  Poor people don’t get a finish line.

Fuck, even American Dad! managed to do a half-assed job showing this.

But we’ve hit a new low.  And that low is Ella Rose and rEvolution of Waiheke Island’s particularly shitty, preachy, profiteering spin on the matter.

While highlighting the plight of the world’s poor is a top priority, Rose says the challenge for her is about much more than starving yourself for a charity.
“We live in a world where the numbers of obese people now are greater than the number of people starving, a world where over a billion people are barely surviving on less than NZ$2.25 a day, and where 70% of the extreme poor are women and children,” she said. “I see the challenge as an opportunity for me to make intelligent food choices and to reflect deeply on our relationship to health, nutrition, and our global food production and distribution systems.”

The point of this challenge, however flawed, is not to pat yourself on the fucking back for knowing people who will sell you fucking hipster organic juice for wholesale prices.  It is not about setting yourself up as an example to prove to the stupid poor people that their children will do just fine with kale chips which are totally affordable on a per-chip basis.

If only the Global Poverty Project team had bothered to explain this to Ella Rose before publishing her self-promoting bullshit for her.


s.e. smith has written a great post on the general topic of bullshit poverty challenges; The Little Pakeha beat me to the line posting about this specific example:

I can only imagine she’s making some very intelligent food choices to be able to afford any of what she listed. The juice bar she’s partnered with, rEvolution, sells a medium juice for $5.50 – making two medium juices her entire food supply for the week with 25c left over. Presumably she has access to their wholesale supplier’s prices, which will really help her to be empathic about the everyday struggles of poverty.

More on cigarette packaging

NRT continues to support the “plain packaging” of tobacco products, a subject on which he and I disagree.

To [the tobacco industry], packaging is simply a means of circumventing advertising restrictions and of marketing to people they shouldn’t be marketing to. And the only way to stop it is to require plain packaging.

As much as I hate to keep having those evil capitalist asshats’ backs on this, I’m just not seeing a lot of real, it’s-an-evil-conspiracy basis to some of these arguments.

“But the packaging is appealing to children!”

Unless you raise your child in a media-free vacuum, (and remove all brand labels from all products, tech, food, and clothing in the house, and homeschool them) they are going to be influenced by modern capitalist marketing techniques.  They are going to be trained, as all of us have been trained, towards desiring certain products, finding certain tropes or messages (“this is what cool people do, this is what rich people wear, if you can’t check your Twitter every five minutes you’ll never know anything”) compelling, and basically being another cog in the machine.

If we’re seriously going to start saying “OH MY GOD!  MARLBORO USES RED PACKAGING BECAUSE FERRARI DOES!!!” like there’s not some big cultural shit going on about red being a sexy, powerful, masculine colour, or “OH MY GOD!  IT’S PINK TO APPEAL TO LITTLE GIRLS!” like pink isn’t used to symbolize harmless feminine playfulness to adult women … well, I’m just going to continue being sceptical about the anti-smoking lobby being anything more than a modern-day DEMON DRINK!!!-screaming Temperance movement.

“We banned their advertising, so now they just use the packet as advertising!”

Welcome to the 21st century, where brand is a slightly-powerful concept.  Where packaging, especially when your product is going to end up in giant wall displays next to a hundred other identically-sized packets, where people do get really attached to their brand or type (talk to a menthol smoker about their ability to pick green packs out of a crowd), is kinda a key marketing strategy for every product.

One cheapish brand of bread has recently repackaged itself to look basically identical to Molenberg, a more expensive, fancy-pants brand.  I personally cannot wait for the carbs police to try cracking down on that on the basis that “Quality Bakers is just using its packaging for marketing purposes!  Kiwi mums won’t realise that the product inside is CHEAPER and LESS ELITIST-LY WHOLEGRAIN-Y!!!”

And frankly, welcome to the world of legal consumer goods, where when you take away a company’s ability to advertise their legal product through conventional means, they find something else to do.

Like I said in my previous post:  if you really want to stop people smoking (or at least stop being half-assed with your rhetoric, because we all know Prohibition makes things sexier, including Steve Buscemi) just ban it.

“This study shows that the tobacco companies are deliberately targeting children!”


Nope, it doesn’t.

At least, not from anything in the linked article.

It says kids find the packaging attractive (gosh, what was that first point I made again?).  That tobacco companies have acknowledged the, um, fairly obvious fact that their packaging is one of the few ways they can market.  It shows that enforced gender binaries are getting ’em good and early, with girls liking the “girly” smokes and boys liking the “manly” smokes (oh my gods, I bet you could even find a similar breakdown in adults legally permitted to purchase those products!)

But a shiny smoking gun of a memo saying “let’s get 10-year-olds hooked via the colour pink and cool flip-top heads!”?  No.  One has to at least hope the tobacco industry aren’t that stupid/arrogant these days.


Cigarettes are bad.

Marketing strategies which play on ingrained gender stereotypes and culturally-indoctrinated desires are also bad.

Philip Morris and BAT probably aren’t really crying themselves to sleep over kids getting hooked on their products.


Cigarettes are legal.  Packaging “being attractive to kids” could just as easily be a fun bonus (it’s not like they’re slapping Dora the Explorer on there, it might alienate the current adult market.)  And requiring plain packaging is not going to magically stop any kid ever from starting smoking, given:

  • They’ll just start giving the cigarettes names that sound cool or work with the plain packaging, like “Marlboro Whites” or “BORN TO KILL”
  • They’ll just start printing the brand on the damn cigarette papers
  • Sales in branded tins and cigarette cases will rise
  • Oh, and smoking will still be that thing your parents can’t stand, that thing all the other guys at the restaurant do on break, that thing which gets you out of the office for ten minutes.

And it’ll still just scream loud and clear that, to paraphrase a recently-viewed episode of The West Wing, “you just don’t like people who do smoke.”  And you want to feel all warm and smug about making their addictions more difficult to cope with.

Good for you.

Bugger our electoral laws

No blogs I read allowed political comments yesterday, because our electoral law is an outdated piece of crap which probably served us OK in the days when “political statements” were restricted to newspaper editorials and hoardings.

These days?  Sorry, everyone, I think it’s just bloody demeaning to everyone’s intelligence for the Electoral Commission to pretend that if I refrain from saying “VOTE LEFT YOU BASTARDS” on 26 November, you will somehow all not remember all the pro-left posts I have made in the lead-up to this election, or not know who DPF/lprent/Lew/Danyl are hoping will get the victory when they say “get the vote out”.

(They, like me, may very well truly believe that democracy is best served by a high turnout, no matter who that vote supports; but we all still have our obvious biases.)

It’s especially bullshit when our media, who cannot ask political questions of politicians on election day (and those politicians cannot make political statements themselves) still follow John Key to the polling booth (not in his own electorate, of course) asking questions like “what are your dinner plans” …

When everyone, left and right, who comments on politics knows full fucking well that John Key presenting himself as Nice Guy Who Has Pizza And Beer On A Saturday Night is a political statement, and is designed to influence people’s votes, and is probably a lot more effective than the scandalous idea that Phil Goff (special voting in his electorate which he doesn’t live in either) might say “Yeah, I voted Labour today.”

And yes, I very much appreciate the fact that people should be able to go and vote without getting spammed, harassed, having political advertising drilled into their heads.

But making social media users tweeting to their 20 friends “Just voted Mana/ACT/Greens/ALCP! Woo!” criminals while mainstream media with audiences of hundreds of thousands get off scot-free continuing to push political-advertising-via-personality-facades, just because our law wants to treat us like we don’t know when we’re being advertised to, or won’t be affected by an advertisement unless it includes the words “vote”, “choose”, or “tick”, pisses me off.

Newsflash: Food is delicious

So the nice Prime News anchorperson just popped up on the telly to let us know that tonight’s broadcast is going to include something described as “doctors call for graphic advertising to combat the obesity epidemic”.*

Initial disclaimer:  I have no intention of watching the broadcast involved because (a) I do not expect it to contain any original thought and (b) I choose not to subject myself voluntarily to baseless fat-hate and (c) I’m not allowed to throw the television out the window.

So.  “Graphic advertising” designed to “combat” the “obesity epidemic”.**

Let’s just leave aside the  eternal “no such animal” debate for the moment.  “Graphic advertising”.  Wonder what that could be based on?

Well, we have graphic advertising about speeding / driving while drunk.  Moral of the story?  Speeding/drunk driving = bad/gross.

And we have graphic advertising about smoking.  Morale of story?  Smoking = bad/gross.

So how do you reckon these “anti-obesity” ads are going to run? Oh right. Eating the [current] Bad Foods as judged by society and a massive industry premised on body-hating and failure = bad/gross.  It’s a totally new and creative riff on the good ol’ this is how the bad food looks when it’s in your stomach bogeyman.

Because a low-fat chicken Caesar salad would look so appetizing when blended into a smoothie.

And because of course the “being fat = gross” message isn’t already broadcast loud and clear on a daily basis (hence the panic when studies show that moderately-not-thin women “don’t realise” they’re “overweight”).***

But none of that is actually the point.


The point is that these ads are part of a bigger, wider problem: our complete fucking disconnect in the wonderful totes-secular West from the fact that we are biological beings and we’re all going to die some day.

This is something that’s a several-posts-long thing to unpack, but for now, let’s consider:  we do actually need food to live.  Eating is actually a good thing.  Consuming foods is not some lesser-of-two-evils moral conflict for which we must eternally self-flagellate.  We don’t have to feel bad for lacking the willpower just to starve to death instead of letting filthy biomatter pass our lips.

Given this, it’s not some kind of massive leap of faith to assume that eating food might be something we, as breathing bloody meaty entities, might find enjoyable.

It’s also a bit childish to act like you can tell what’s “bad” for you by how it physically appears after being chewed, mixed with saliva, and bathed in stomach acid for a while, and whether it looks “gross”.  (See Caesar salad note above.)  But it ties nicely into our fear of acknowledging that we’re made of meat and that once something comes off a beautifully-presented plate into our mouths it’s literally a fairly visceral process.  One which literally does not care whether the calories it’s burning are being pulled out of a crunchy fresh lettuce leaf or a buttery pie shell.

This proposed ad “campaign” can only be premised on us finding our very existences icky, and by association the food we nom on.  Diet culture tries to spin us the illusion that by limiting ourselves to Good Foods – and hating every mouthful for being a necessary evil in the continuance of our wretched mortal existences – we can ignore the “gross” bits, the meaty bits, the stomachy bits, the crapping bits.

Well, sorry, y’all, but we’re humans.  We eat food, we enjoy it, we crap it out when our bodies are done with it and that’s how we keep on living.  It all looks gross in the end.  Any ad which ignores that and is based on making us hate a vital part of our lives and will almost directly put money into the pockets of a global industry which exists to spread hatred and prejudice and low self-esteem?  Probably not actually working for the forces of good.  Or “health.”


*Complete with grossed-out looking guy drinking a “shake” apparently made of liquified pies.


***I swear I’m going to wear out my sarcasm-quotes on this one.

Just fuck you, ALAC. Fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on.

I don’t really have words, at this point. I can’t believe these things need to be said. I can’t believe multiple organisations are still trying to claim that this isn’t victim-blaming.

Background: ALAC, the Alcohol Advisory Council of NZ, have launched a campaign called “Had Enough?”

Two of their ads feature men getting drunk, acting like dicks, doing awful things and then feeling like shit afterwards.

Which makes total sense.

The third ad, on the other hand, features a woman getting drunk, acting drunk … and being dragged down a dark alleyway by a seedy-looking guy. As her increasingly panicked shrieks ring forth from the television, ALAC points out that THE DEMON DRINK IS BAD, Y’ALL.

All three can be viewed here.

Those of you used to discussing feminist and/or sexual assault issues in any forum will of course be utterly unsurprised just how much people are willing to say that there isn’t a qualitative difference between those advertisements.

Continue reading