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Thread: Fast Food Advertising

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Fast Food Advertising

    Did everyone see where Burger King decided recently to drop its' 'creepy' King ad campaign? Guess they'll have to resort to their old marketing methods once again to draw customers back into the fold.

    I for one will miss the creepy king. It's a shame it didnt generate more sales for them, but you have to admit that seldom in advertising does a logo lend itself so well to meme generation.

    Remember when McDonalds came under fire (has it been 20 years already?) for the McDonald-land characters (Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Grimace, etc.) they created in the 1970's to appeal to children. The GenX'ers/late Boomers that remember those ads are probably about their most important market segment right now. But McDonalds, it seems, exists almost on the same plane as tobacco companies nowadays. I think I'm going to call my lawyer today about possibly suing them for the emotional pain and suffering and lost wages resulting from the damages their product inflicted on my career as a male model. My middle age spread was caused by the Hamburglar's appeals to order supersize fries 35 years ago.

    Do you think McDonalds or Burger King should share any blame for the health crisis this country currently faces for marketing their product to children, or were they simply raising public awareness that they offered a product that children were clamoring for already?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Did everyone see where Burger King decided recently to drop its' 'creepy' King ad campaign? Guess they'll have to resort to their old marketing methods once again to draw customers back into the fold.

    I for one will miss the creepy king. It's a shame it didnt generate more sales for them, but you have to admit that seldom in advertising does a logo lend itself so well to meme generation.

    Remember when McDonalds came under fire (has it been 20 years already?) for the McDonald-land characters (Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Grimace, etc.) they created in the 1970's to appeal to children. The GenX'ers/late Boomers that remember those ads are probably about their most important market segment right now. But McDonalds, it seems, exists almost on the same plane as tobacco companies nowadays. I think I'm going to call my lawyer today about possibly suing them for the emotional pain and suffering and lost wages resulting from the damages their product inflicted on my career as a male model. My middle age spread was caused by the Hamburglar's appeals to order supersize fries 35 years ago.

    Do you think McDonalds or Burger King should share any blame for the health crisis this country currently faces for marketing their product to children, or were they simply raising public awareness that they offered a product that children were clamoring for already?
    Yes and no. I think in general marketing to children should be quite limited in nature, everything from toys to food. I think that there should be healthier options available on all menus, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the parents.

    Having worked in the fast food industry for nearly 15 years I can't tell you the number of people that eat there 3+ times a week and this isn't just limited to single, young guys. There are so many families that bring their kids to McD's several times a week. Anything in excess isn't good for you.

    The way that I look at it is that nobody made you get in a car, drive to McDonald's, sit in line inside or in the drive thru, and order a super sized meal topping out at 1000 calories or order your kids a fried food extravaganza to get a freaking toy. Usually it's the parent that's the most obsessed about the dang toy in the first place.

    We as a nation have forgotten how to cook at home or lost the will to do so. When I was growing up we ate out maybe once a month and it was a special treat, not a daily habit. I for the most part eat at home because it's one of the only ways I can control what goes into the food and know what its nutritional composition is. There are a few places that I will eat out at but only after having checked out their menu and nutritional information online beforehand.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Do you think McDonalds or Burger King should share any blame for the health crisis this country currently faces for marketing their product to children..........?
    No more than the Keebler Elves and Chester Cheetah should be. Bottom line, it's up to the parents to buy this stuff so they need to bear the responsibility of how/what their children eat.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    Yes and no. I think in general marketing to children should be quite limited in nature, everything from toys to food. I think that there should be healthier options available on all menus, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the parents.
    ditto on that. Policies from the top that try to limit unhealthy foods, etc. are valid in my book, but it isn't going to do much good until the market no longer demands a McDonald's every 4 blocks. That means people will have to (gasp ) get off the couch and do something about their health, or maybe try cooking their own food?
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I can count on one hand the number of times my family ate fast food growing up. Now that I'm married my wife and I probably eat fast food/pizza at least 5 times a week. I don't buy the argument that advertising is the problem - it's convenience more than anything. Now that gas stations sell hot food we go there just as often and they don't do any advertising. It's really in the hands of the parents.

    After working all day and then doing something after work, be it working out, mowing the lawn, or whatever, I don't feel like cooking. It so much easier to pick up some food that's already made. Also, for two people it is often cheaper than buying ingredients and making it at home. We can a Little Caesar's pizza for 5 bucks and it tastes okay.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I love the King (not the food, the creepy king guy). best fast food commercials ever.

    I rarely ever eat fast food. If traveling i try to stop in a grocery store or a deli or something as opposed to a fast food joint. Fast food is nasty.

    I think 10 years ago these companies shared much of the blame for some of the health crisis, but nowadays with mandatory nutritional reporting, health outreach and other available food options, there really is no excuse to gorge yourself on fast food and then complain about being unhealthy. Nowadays anyone who continues to have health issues that can be traced to unhealthy eating and fast food has only themselves to blame (or in the case of children their parents).
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    I wouldn't argue that advertising is completely ineffective. It is a multi-billion dollar business for good reason. However, I don't think it need be blamed for turning kids into unhealthy, obese, zombies either.

    Maybe I'm just lucky in my experience. My son gets exposed to plenty of advertising. We typically pass two McDonalds, one BK, and a Dunkin Donuts on our daily commute. The Disney Channel (tv's a different animal, but he's allowed to watch some) advertises McDonalds and Chuck E Cheese frequently. And yet he's never once asked to go there.

    We don't eat organic as a rule, we are not vegetarian, we order pizza fairly regularly, and I could stand to lose a few pounds. But I can count on one hand the number of times my 6 yo has been in a fast food burger joint. Simply, none of us enjoy the taste. Advertising or not. If I'm going to get fat from a burger, its going to come off my own grill.

  8. #8
    Advertising directed to children is designed to get the children hopped up and annoy the parents until they buy x item. It's the same idea as as putting the cady, etc and kids eye level at the store.

    As ofr the merits-meh. I think banning or limiting it would be problematic at best, tho it should happen.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The food at fast food restaurants is really no less healthy than that of many full-service restaurants that are not targeted by the health vigilantes. You can find just as many (or more) unhealthy options at your local grocery store or Walmart Supercenter. So yes, it is a matter of personal choice and parental oversight. Rather than marketing aimed to children, I object to the deliberate attempts to mislead in so many advertisements, whether on television, in print, or on the box.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    That means people will have to (gasp ) get off the couch and do something about their health, or maybe try cooking their own food?
    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Nowadays anyone who continues to have health issues that can be traced to unhealthy eating and fast food has only themselves to blame (or in the case of children their parents).

    I agree to an extent. But when you look at the location/density of restaurants or access to healthy foods, often these restaurants are located in/near low-income neighborhoods where residents have little or no access to healthy foods. So when it comes time to eat it is easier and more convenient to purchase from a fast-food restaurant and in some cases the only option. There is a food desert in a low-income minority neighborhood in My Fair City. The resident's only access to food that doesn't involve a bus ride or taxi ride is at a Big K or CVS. Kind of insensitive to blame people in this situation when we "tell" them they need to eat more healthfully but don't provide them options or access to fresh healthy foods.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Bring Back the McNuggets!!!

    No blame to be shared... I mean how is the past any different than the garbage they are throwing up now?

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    Parental responsibility here. It's like smoking today. You know its bad, you know it can kill you, but really, how is Joe Camel really selling you more cigs? Really?
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    The food at fast food restaurants is really no less healthy than that of many full-service restaurants that are not targeted by the health vigilantes. You can find just as many (or more) unhealthy options at your local grocery store or Walmart Supercenter. So yes, it is a matter of personal choice and parental oversight. Rather than marketing aimed to children, I object to the deliberate attempts to mislead in so many advertisements, whether on television, in print, or on the box.
    I think there is truth to these comments and certainly no revolution in healthier eating is going to come from one single issue like doing away with fast food. Still, I have two points I think are worth factoring into the discussion.

    The first is this issue of urban food deserts. Its true that you can find plenty of unhealthy food at the supermarket, but you can also find raw and unprocessed food, along with other healthy options. As many studies, investigative reports and documentaries have noted, even the "healthiest" of options at many fast food establishments are usually loaded with calories, fats and sugar. The healthy options are very limited.

    And what happens (as has been the case in two places I have lived - in a Philadelphia neighborhood and in a part of Albuquerque) when there are ONLY fast food restaurants close by? In Philly, the closest supermarket was two bus rides away. It was a poor neighborhood and I was lucky enough to have a car, but so many people did not. This is a situation where, as the Food Trust has demonstrated unequivocably, poverty, poor nutrition, nutritionally related disease and limited access to whole and raw food sources combine to form a perfect storm of bad health.

    The second point is really an analogy to cigarette smoking. In the run up to all the banning of smoking in public places, government buildings, no advertising on TV, etc., many people argued that no one was really at fault for smoking and its illnesses beyond the smokers themselves. They've had surgeon generals' warnings since, what, the 1970s? And yet people continue to smoke. Isn't it their fault and not the manufacturers who are, afterall, providing a product people want?

    Well, the courts obviously didn't see it that way and I might say that the fast food industry is in a similar situation. There are many cases where they have not been honest or forthcoming in their advertising about the health content of their products, just as the cigarette companies downplayed illnesses and then later even sought ways to enhance their adictive properties. As far as I know, fast food comanies strive to do the same thing.

    So, while the unhealthiest of options at the grocery store might be on par with the unhealthiest of options at a fast food restaurant, I would argue that the converse is not true. The healthiest item at the fast food outlet is not even close to the healthiest item you can access at a supermarket.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I agree to an extent. But when you look at the location/density of restaurants or access to healthy foods, often these restaurants are located in/near low-income neighborhoods where residents have little or no access to healthy foods. So when it comes time to eat it is easier and more convenient to purchase from a fast-food restaurant and in some cases the only option. There is a food desert in a low-income minority neighborhood in My Fair City. The resident's only access to food that doesn't involve a bus ride or taxi ride is at a Big K or CVS. Kind of insensitive to blame people in this situation when we "tell" them they need to eat more healthfully but don't provide them options or access to fresh healthy foods.

    I think you're absolutely correct so I'll apologize if my original comment came off as insensitive to this situation. The big Catch-22 here though is, healthier food is usually more expensive, and therefore cheap low quality fast food is much more the norm in low income neighborhoods.How do you fix that? Well I suppose a good first step is maintaining portion sizes that aren't out of control (which I think came about with Supersize Me). But still, any way you look at it McDonalds and co. are pretty unhealthy.

    I would guess that back in the day people put a lot more thought and effort into the food they ate. Fast food is uber convenient and you don't even have to leave your car. I think the point I'm trying to make here (I'm rambling I know) is that consumers have to actively reject eating at these chains and put more time and effort into the food they eat rather than take the convenient choice. People still choose McDonalds all the time, so I don't think any policies will change that.

    I'll cast the first stone at myself. I tell people all the time how I never eat McDonalds.... unless I'm on the road and can't cook anything..... or I'm super busy and don't have any time...... or I'm reeeaaalllly craving a Big Mac . I bet if I had some way of actually tallying up the # of times I've had fast food, I'd be pretty shocked (and embarrased ). But, I think this is true for a lot of people.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Sounds like it's time for a Cyburbia unscientific poll. Let's keep track of how many times our family (or family members) eat a meal from A) fast food restaurant, B) take out/order in pizza, and C) other meals designed to be fast (hot gas station food, kitchen from the grocery store, etc).

    Next Thursday we can report back and see where we stand, knowing full well our results are skewed based on the fact that we're all planners!
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Kids can eat just as poorly by eating a kid-size pizza and a chocolate shake at Olive Garden as they can at McDonald's. It's not just the fast-food places. Look at the kid menu at most sit-down places: hot dogs, chicken fingers, pizza, etc. Always with fries. Granted, these places don't advertise their kids menus on t.v. so the kids may not be clamoring to go there (unless they've eaten there once and loved it). And since they are generally more expensive options for dining and don't have drive-thrus, some folks may be more inclined to hit a fast-food place for the convenience or prices.

    Anyone ever seen a kid-sized plate to the salad bar offered? Baked chicken and asparagus in kid-sized servings? Probably not. Every restaurant that doesn't have healthy options on the kids menu should change their offerings.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    I think you're absolutely correct so I'll apologize if my original comment came off as insensitive to this situation. The big Catch-22 here though is, healthier food is usually more expensive, and therefore cheap low quality fast food is much more the norm in low income neighborhoods.How do you fix that? Well I suppose a good first step is maintaining portion sizes that aren't out of control (which I think came about with Supersize Me). But still, any way you look at it McDonalds and co. are pretty unhealthy.
    I'm not sure I buy the argument that poor people eat fast food just because its cheap (and maybe that's not really what you are saying. But plenty of people do feel that way). I think its also (or maybe even mainly) because of access. Many supermarkets will not locate in poor urban areas because the profit margin is smaller. By contrast, fast food restaurants often cluster in low income areas, perhaps because of the lack of alternative access to food. Everyone's a winner!

    There was a recent study that said it will be more expensive for folks to meet the new national nutritional guidelines, but outside of eating organic, I suspect (and I have no hard evidence to back this up) that at least buying and preparing whole, fresh foods is still cheaper than buying fast food over the long haul. There are other factors to consider as well. Not all calories are created equal, afterall, and a diet of saturated fats, for example, is likely to create health problems like diabetes that are extremely costly to manage. If the person with the affliction isn't paying for the disease (they are with their soul no matter what) then taxpayers are paying for it. We all foot the bill when someone on medicaid is chronically ill.

    There was a great Fontline episode about immigration and health and they noted that first generation immigrants tend to be far healthier than the average American because the nature of diet and activity in the home country was very different than here. And they tend to retain much of those behaviors as part of maintaining cultural identity even after arriving here. But the next generation often leaps headlong into the fast food, nutritionally-related disease cycle. Its part of the Americanization process, evidently.

    I'm not sure what I think the answer is. You can't MAKE people eat better. But maybe one can make access to low quality food more difficult, or provide incentives to make healthier food more affordable. At least you can't use WIC or Food Stamps at McDonald's. But here at least, you CAN use them at the growers markets.

    Its worth looking at the Food Trust in Philadelphia which has done some pretty amazing things to address HomerJ's question "how do you fix that?" http://thefoodtrust.org/

    They have a large endowment to provide incentives for supermarkets to locate in urban food deserts. They have nutritional programs in the schools that use a color coded system to talk about food and nutrition, not just for what's available in the cafeteria, but in their regular classrooms as well. They got the soda machines out of the school system in Philly. And they have a Corner Store porgram where they work with bodega-type markets to offer better, more nutritional snack options, particularly for teens (who they discovered get some insane percentage of calries from each day) and which use the same color coded system that are part of the schools. Its pretty amazing. And their research is stellar.
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    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    It's fused!

    Where's the beef?
    Now that was a commercial!
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I agree with the analogies between fast food and cigarettes to an extent. They are both killers, but one is extremely addictive and the health of nonusers as well.
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  19. #19
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    Advertising is all bogus. There is a wrong way to eat a Reese's. Don't make me prove it to you...
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    What is ridiculous is that, absent a decent supermarket center in some urban areas, a family will spend more on one meal at a fast-food place than they would spend for several days worth of healthy groceries. But.... even if decent grocery stores are in place, people have to know how to cook healthfully. If someone is raised on fast food or frozen meals, can they cook?; probably not. There are probably kids out there who have never seen a salad or a bunch of grapes at home.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    I agree with the analogies between fast food and cigarettes to an extent. They are both killers, but one is extremely addictive and the health of nonusers as well.
    OT - I actually saw candy cigarettes in a store in Wyoming a few weeks ago. I so wanted to pick up a couple packs for my niece/nephew. I have such fond memories of them from when I was a kid in the 70's. Puffing on one of them, I could be just like the Marlboro Man.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    All this talk about fast food made me go out and get a big greasy, delicious cheeseburger and a large cheese fry from local Chicago-area favorite Portillo's at lunch today. So now I'm going to sue all of you for bringing it up and making me make unhealthy choices!

    But seriously... People need to calm down and learn to think for themselves. And learn to tell their kids no! There's a lot of people out there telling you what to do and what to buy. I say it's better that kids are bombarded with crap early on and the parents tell them no, as it's never too early to practice self-discipline. People are bombarded with advertising and subliminal messages all throughout life, and it's only going to get worse if the kids don't learn early on.

    That's not to say that people should avoid taking their kids to McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Burger King, or wherever. But they should be more disciplined about it. You know, once every couple weeks, taking the kids out for a special treat or something like that. As long as people practice some discipline by not going as often, eating in moderation, and having variety in their diet, that's all that matters.
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    OT - I actually saw candy cigarettes in a store in Wyoming a few weeks ago. I so wanted to pick up a couple packs for my niece/nephew. I have such fond memories of them from when I was a kid in the 70's. Puffing on one of them, I could be just like the Marlboro Man.
    Remember the ones that looked like they had an ember on the end? And didn't some of them even "smoke"? Ahhh the good old day!
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  24. #24
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    This is one of the places I think libertarian thoughts. I have a hard time though with the fact that I support the smoking ban in all public places, but don't support this. I think they are really similar except that smoke can kill people you don't know and food can only kill those in your family.

    Either way it is about the kids. Should we be dictating what stupid parents can and can't do with their kids. Or should we let natural selection occur? The problem is that obese children cost all of us in healthcare costs.

    Just as lots of other things in the U.S. there are better ways to attempt to "fix" the obesity problem instead of banning food.

    I don't blame McDonald's - nothing made you eat their tasty fries. I blame the fact that we don't have longer recess in schools, we don't have winners in kids sports, and we don't put a premium on exercise.
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  25. #25
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sisterceleste View post
    Where's the beef?
    Now that was a commercial!
    I don't think there's anybody in there.

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