Thursday, November 3, 2011

Corporate "Encouragement" of Healthy Food: Disney's new strategy

I was just reading a blog post about advertisements and noticed she mentioned Disney's practice of branding fruit. I decided to investigate and found the Posts' report about the good business sense Disney is making by distancing itself from branding junk food.
This was several years ago, but I just became aware of it. Not having children, I've never noticed cartoons on my apples.
Like it or not, the concept is totally genius. Disney is nothing if not savvy. You can find now a wholesome page on their website that explains their commitment to the nutrition of children. Of course, we all know it's because they saw market trends shifting away from sugar cereal and french fries and jumped on the prosperous grocery industry. But for a change of pace, a corporation is making a popular decision that makes everyone happy and it is increasing their profits, but overall feeding something to children that will most likely help them be healthier.
The argument against this behavior is the unsettling feeling that someone is making money off of manipulating your children. However, Disney is a huge machine and will find a way to make money or not, and too much back lash could lead to Disney candy bars, where there moral fiber of the industry is not as high. 
Disney seems to even be avoiding the issue of contributing to monoculture by offering over 250 products and partnering with already existing growers.  Of course, corporation touching growing is never ideal, but until everyone is willing to live on dried and canned food that was grown locally all winter, it's a losing battle.
Baby steps.
The biggest relief I find in this is the corporate response to consumer sentiments. We are wanting better, healthier, fresher food. They are not responding the way I would like them to, but it is a response. It's a small shift. Slowly, perhaps, we can all learn to wean ourselves from corporations altogether, but that is a paradise I cannot hope for anytime soon. Overall, I am pleased by the influence that the natural movement is currently having, and hope the momentum continues, however slowly.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Some thoughts to chew on there:

    "Of course, corporation touching growing is never ideal, but until everyone is willing to live on dried and canned food that was grown locally all winter, it's a losing battle."

    That was my favorite line. I get a little sick and tired, to say the least, of the anti corporation sentiments I hear from Bastyr students. Um you want to eat canned and dried locally food grown all winter or do you prefer that fresh salad with avocados? Yeah, that's what I thought.

    Thank you for providing the link to the Post article. This comment from it was very interesting to me as well:

    "'If we think about children's well-being, the best thing we could do is to stop marketing any food to them and let parents make choices about what their children eat without being undermined by advertising,' says Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood."

    While I appreciate that sentiment too in my heart of hearts and it resonates deeply with my values, it's like saying, "Wouldn't it be great if tomorrow everyone woke up and decided to be enlightened, responsible, and educated consumers? And threw away their televisions too?" That statement also implies that if media and marketing disappeared parents would somehow KNOW what they should purchase for their children to eat. In my experience this is absolutely not the case. For the time being people watch lots of TV, and more importantly their children do too. Unless the kids live under a rock they are exposed to plenty of media. Using Disney images that kids know and love to boost sales of real food sounds good to me. It's about time a kid was begging his mom for the Buzz Light Year eggs as opposed to whatever sugary crap he would have otherwise been licensed to. As a nutrition major I enthusiastically support Disney's endeavor. Now if only they can put a Tinkerbell stamp on organic and humanely raised animal products....