April 13, 2009

Survey Results: Make Room For Spongebob

The latest Small Bites survey asked visitors if they supported the use of popular cartoon characters to advertise fruit and vegetable products like "baby carrots" and frozen spinach to children.

Sixty-three percent of respondents supported that form of advertising, eight percent did not, and the remaining twenty-seven percent did not have a strong opinion either way.

I strongly favor that sort of advertising.

Many nutrition advocates do not, claiming it confuses children to see Spongebob on baby carrots as well as a box of sugary fruit snacks.

My main concern with that argument is that it attempts to view the world through the eyes of a child who has the marketing awareness of an adult.

Six-year-olds are not aware of nutrition. They don't understand the difference in nutrients between a fruit snack and a real fruit. Seeing their favorite cartoon character on different products doesn't confuse them -- it simply draws their eyes and attention to them!

In my opinion, too many nutrition advocates make the crucial mistake of forgetting that they, too, can implement the same tactics used by food companies.

Getting children interested in eating healthier food by simply branding it with cartoon characters is certainly far from utopian, but it's a significant step forward we need to pursue.


christine said...

hi andy,

i just got my blood labs done to test for vitamin d deficiency. my doctor said that my recent depression symptoms and joint pain could be resulting from that. i knew about rickets and vitamin d deficiency in children...but what is this chronic pain/fatigue/depression stuff in adults? how does vitamin d deficiency play a role in that?

Lexi said...

I'm all for slapping Spongebob on a box of spinach. When they say it "confuses" children, what they mean is that they're associating "fun" characters with "crummy" food, and this throws them off.

Good, maybe that will be a semi-effective measure. If healthy things start looking "fun" too, then maybe the lure to get the sugar-coated gummy balls cereal simply because there's a smiling cartoon face on the box will be less powerful.