Natural Cheetos, Sunny D, and Other Marketing Hoaxes

In a past life, The Health Junction worked at a large media conglomerate.  While my role as a Marketing Project Manager was to manage the resources and timelines of each campaign, it was necessary to work very closely with the clients and educate myself on their product.  Often, I was provided with PowerPoint presentations on their brand DNA – key points on what makes Brand ABC different from Brand XYZ.

Branding 101

It was interesting to watch the writing/production team come up with a script that was allowed by Advertising Standards Council (check this post for issues surrounding ASC) but still grabbed the viewer’s attention.  I sat in on many script review meetings where we brainstormed ways to convey messaging that was deemed “unfit” by ASC.  In essence, how to say something without actually “saying” it.

What I learned from my time in the media industry is that messaging is VERY creative and can be quite deceptive.  Here are a few claims and related products to watch out for:

1.) All Natural.  This isn’t a regulated or clearly defined terms.  As previously mentioned, I worked on a jam commercial where the tagline was all natural but it had 11 grams of sugar in one tablespoon.  There are  lots of “natural” products on the market that have added colour, flavour, and contain high-fructose corn syrup.  Natural Cheetos exists by the way – complete with disodium phosphate and maltodextrin.  The best way to get all natural is to go with organic food in its rawest form.

2.) Multi-Grain.  A bread can be multigrain and still quite low in nutritional quality.  For example, a bread containing more than one type of grain is classified as multigrain but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy because it could still be totally refined.  An interesting example of this is the Multigrain Tostitos which have only 2 grams of fiber compared to regular Tostitos which contain 1 gram.  Furthermore, the Multigrain version actually has 8 grams of fat compared to 7 grams in the regular.  Both versions contain the same amount Iron (2% of the DV) and Vitamin C (0 %).  For a grain to have the most bang for your buck it should be WHOLE GRAIN.  This means the bread will have the germ, the bran, and the endosperm – these three components will ensure you are getting the optimal amount of fiber, protein, and vitamins.

3.) Vitamin & Mineral Claims.  Products may contain a good amount of one specific nutrient and still be totally and utterly full of garbage.  A great example of this is Sunny D which is in marketing gong show of its own.   Sunny D will give you 100% of your daily Vitamin C but it also contains CANOLA OIL, artificial colours, sweeteners, and sodium hexametaphosphate (a food additive that can cause swelling of the kidney’s when consumed in excess).  Another example of this is Glaceau VitaminWater which is owned by Coca Cola – each bottle contains 33 grams of sugar which is almost as much as a can of pop.

 Check back tomorrow for a post on different types of sweeteners – find out which ones are a hit and which are a miss.


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