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Truth or fiction

Outside of marketing/advertising industry award ceremonies, many advertisements aired garner little attention outside of delivering the message. Some however stand out above informing an audience. One such campaign is the A & W’s hamburger promotion (see Will Verbovens column for a unique angle on this campaign, page 6). This campaign was financially successful but beyond that, it was more than just selling their burgers. It appealed to the perceived health benefit and to the social conscience, both that exist in spades today. Sure it’s a fairy tale story absent of pixie dust but, it worked its magic. Somewhat different in nature but equally relevant in this context  is an advertisement from the makers of Cherios, called diet-tainment. The advertisement shows different girls (tweens) in different situations, all being exposed to messages as to what a female body should look like. Ergo, if you don’t look like the images portrayed, diet. What Cherios is doing is simply trying to bring shame to the Canadian media industry to stop unhealthy messaging about dieting which is veiled as entertainment  (Dove soap did the same in denouncing beauty stereotypes).  Cheerios  also have a petition of their web site. As Jason Doolan marketing director for General Mills said, “Threats to our children’s well being are hidden in plain sight.” Social conscience again. 

My point is, too many people believe what they read, see, hear and don’t question how much truth is involved. This materializes in spades with general information spun out as news. As the saying goes, don’t let truth get in the way of a good story. Campaigns today are becoming a lot more then selling a product or service. I suspect because they are targeting the Millennials (largest consumer group today), who are a more socially and politically correct group then their predecessors, boomers. They are very health conscious, no second hand smoke for them, they have a sense of entitlement and are narcissistic. Did someone say, selfies? So A & W nailed it with their hamburger campaign –  anything perceived organic is cool, it’s healthy and good for the environment . They (millennials) are entitled to the best after all and they have photos of themselves to prove it.  With all these more emotionally charged messages being funneled through the many channels of media and devices to a very fragmented cultural demographic, is it any wonder our beef industry is having trouble navigating these waters? I say trouble because here at home per capita beef consumption has essentially been dropping over the last decade. Notwithstanding what the higher prices of late will do to consumption stats and boomers eating less as they age. It’s a landscape that brings to the forefront the importance of our export markets expanding and yes, more money to compete will always be an issue on this file. Unless of course as an industry we do an about face. That is, change our raising of beef to a 100% organic product. We could and would charge more money, increase our industries carbon foot print, clear more trees and utilize more land, water and produce more methane gas…and feed less people. All in the name of pixie dust beliefs (fad) that organic is better. Now how easy is that message to spin? Of course we couldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

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